Legislature(1999 - 2000)
04/27/1999 05:05 PM WTR
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HJR 14-NATIONAL MUSEUM WOMEN'S HISTORY AK COUNCIL CHAIR BARNES announced that the first item of business would be Sponsor Substitute for House Joint Resolution No. 14, Relating to the National Museum of Women's History and the National Museum of Women's History Alaska Council. Number 0122 KAREN STASER, President, National Museum of Women's History [NMWH], testified via teleconference from Washington, D.C. She stated that she would like to discuss the federal perspective. She indicated that Katelyn Markley would discuss why the National Museum of Women's History is so important to women. Ms. Staser said, Here in Washington [District of Columbia], there is an increasing awareness of the role women are playing and will play in the upcoming presidential election. Issues involving women will be brought into sharp focus over the next two years. The museum has been overwhelmingly embraced by women throughout the country who are hungry to see their past and their experiences reflected with respect. In response, to date, the museum has created state councils in Alaska, Phoenix, Los Angeles, New York City, Washington D.C., Texas and North Carolina. And you can be sure that women will look favorably upon those leaders who support the National Museum of Women's History. Number 0248 To put into perspective why women are so committed to NMWH, let me emphasize that there is a huge historical void concerning women. As Katelyn will discuss, did you know that still less than two percent of modern history texts cover the contributions and experiences of women? Or that less than five percent of our national historic sites interpret women's roles? Or that in the U.S. capital, of the 451 works of art honoring individuals, only 12 depict women? And that is why the National Museum of Women's History is so important. Our mission is to fill this historical void by preserving and celebrating the unique contributions and experiences of women and to restore this heritage to mainstream culture. NMWH has put together a powerful team. We enjoy the support of 44 members of Congress and over 200 prominent citizens nationwide. From Al Newhart, for example, the founder of USA Today, and Gloria Steinhem (ph) to renowned historian Doris Kerns-Goodwin (ph) and Steve Forbes, who, incidentally, asked me to introduce him at the Forbes Executive Women's Summit this year, and, furthermore, Forbes Magazine will feature a 16-page section on the museum in next month's issue, which we're very proud that Alaskan businesswoman, Eleanor Andrews (ph), will be highlighted. The last point I'd like to make is that the museum is privately funded. What we're asking of the federal government is an arrangement similar to that that they have provided the National Building Museum and Ford Theater, and that is the long-term loan of federal land, preferably on the mall. The federal government will provide the site while operating costs will be privately funded. I urge you to pass this resolution in support of the National Museum of Women's History and continue in the tradition of Alaska, the pioneer state. In doing so, you will take the lead and make history by becoming the first state legislature to formally endorse this important institution. Number 0465 REPRESENTATIVE PHILLIPS asked for clarification on the location of the museum. MS. STASER replied that a federal site has been requested in Washington, D.C. She said they are interested in a site as close to the capitol mall as possible. She indicated that there has been discussion with the Alaska delegation about a possible site; a federal building called the Sidney R. Yates (ph) Federal Building. REPRESENTATIVE PHILLIPS referred to the United States Capitol Rotunda, in which there are statues of historical figures who helped shape America, and asked if the statue of Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony would be moved into the new building. MS. STASER indicated that that is a decision that would be made by Congress. She stated that the original legislation called for the statue to be in the rotunda for one year. However, the statue remains there, and there has been no indication that it would be moved. She said this statue or another statue honoring these three American leaders does deserve to be in the rotunda. REPRESENTATIVE PHILLIPS stated that Senator Ted Stevens was very anxious to get the statue moved to the rotunda. MS. STASER agreed and stated that it was Senator Stevens who introduced the legislation and spear-headed the whole initiative to move these leaders to the rotunda. She said without him it would not have happened. Number 0662 KATELYN MARKLEY, Founder, Alaska Council of the National Museum of Women's History, testified via teleconference from Anchorage. She read the following testimony: I am delighted to be hear today to testify on a project I am personally committed to. The project will add important facts to the history of this nation, acknowledge women for their many achievements and help young women realize that they can be whatever they dream of being. This project is the National Museum of Women's History. In the story of American success, the chapter on women's contribution was largely cut from an early draft. Women and their accomplishments as mothers, political leaders, teachers, astronauts, inventors and so on, have been left out of our history books. As an example, prior to becoming involved in the National Museum of Women's History, if I was asked, "Who was the first member of the territorial legislature of Alaska?", I would not have known, but now I know that it was Representative Nell Scott (ph), a Democrat from Seldovia. At school, studying the history of the United States, I learned of the struggle to settle the western frontier, and later of the discovery of gold in Alaska, a struggle that matched man against his environment. I learned that with courage and rugged individualism man won the West. Similarly, I learned in Alaska history, that cheechakos came to Alaska, during the rugged Chilkoot Trail, making their way north to pan for gold in the great land. All these facts are part of the amazing history of the United States and of Alaska, but there are important facts missing. The truth is that families conquered the West. Without all family members working together, the settling of the frontier would have been impossible. Number 0794 When history tells us about the enormous human cost for this epic adventure, we should remember that women and children bore more than their share of those costs of work, disease and death. Not only did women do their daily chores and keep their families together, but they worked alongside the men, and, without question, women are civilizers. On the western frontier, they were expected to bring civilization and culture to soften the harshness of the frontier male society. Women lived up to those expectations. In town after town, women moved in and saw to the building of churches and schools, and probably brought law and order with them, in addition to being mothers, businesswomen and political leaders. Historians overlook these facts in history. Number 0839 I grew up in what I thought was a fairly progressive family in Southeast Alaska. My parents both owned their own businesses and they encouraged their five children to study and work hard. Each of us went on to get college degrees in education, business and in the medical field. We were also told that my brother would inherit the family seafood business. You see, it was a man's world and only men could do certain things. The four girls in the family were told to marry well. Most of you know my husband, Larry Markley. I think I respected my dad's wishes. All kidding aside, in part because of my lack of knowledge and (indisc.) of past accomplishments of women, I did not develop a personal and collected sense of confidence and potential, and I truly limited myself in what I thought I could do. HJR 14 supports legislation that was introduced in Congress to create an advisory committee that will identify a site for the National Museum of Women's History in Washington [D.C.], develop a business plan for the museum using solely private contributions and assist with a collection and program for the museum. HJR 14 also encourages Alaska congressional delegation to help assign an existing building on the mall for this effort. Number 0933 The concept for the National Museum of Women's History began in Alaska many years ago by Karen Staser and became a dream in 1996, when Karen and her husband, Jeff, moved to Washington, D.C. where Jeff took a job with Senator Stevens. Since that time, the board of directors, led by Karen, has worked tirelessly to build support and interest for this project, raising more than $10.5 dollars. Perhaps we should get her to help out with Alaska's budget situation. Lending their support to moving the suffragette statue from the crypt of the rotunda, which Representative Phillips spoke of, and they actually raised $85,000 for this effort. Number 0968 Now, you might ask, "Why do we need a women's museum when we have the Smithsonian?". Edith Mayo, a curator with the Smithsonian, an active member of the National Museum of Women's History, can answer this question. Since 1963, only two exhibits, just two, were dedicated to the role of women in history. I do find it interesting to see the fancy dresses that the first ladies of the United States wore to the inaugural balls, but many other important accomplishments of women are not showcased, and, in essence, have been deleted from history. They deserve to be in a museum. Whatever period of history you choose, women played a role. Sybil Lunington (ph), a 16-year old, rode through parts of New York and Connecticut in April of 1777 to warn that the Red Coats were coming. Sacajawea, the Shoshone Indian guide, helped escort Lewis and Clark on their 8,000 mile expedition. Rosa Park, Joanne Robinson (ph) and many others played important roles in the civil rights movement of the 50's and 60's. And as we move into the 21st century, the role of women, who now make up 52 percent of the population, will continue to be integral in the future success of this country. I urge you to pass this resolution and I thank you very much for hearing our testimony. Number 1063 REPRESENTATIVE PHILLIPS wondered, since Alaska is going to be the first state to consider this, if other states were going to look at this also. MS. MARKLEY indicated that she has only been involved on the Alaska side of the issue and thought that Ms. Staser could answer the question. MS. STASER stated that all the states she mentioned previously are critically involved in the development of the museum, but we enjoy, as Alaskans, the enviable position of having congressional members chairing the three important committees that will make the decision on Alaska's side. Alaska has been the first state and the most important state in this process. REPRESENTATIVE PHILLIPS asked Ms. Markley how many members are in the Alaska Council of National Museum of Women's History, and she wondered how to join. MS. MARKLEY replied that she would send information. She indicated that the council is in the formation stage right. She said there are approximately ten people that have been actively working with her. Groups, such as the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce Athena Group, are interested in making the National Museum of Women's History a project that they will focus on. REPRESENTATIVE PHILLIPS wondered if it would be possible for Alaska to have somebody involved in the advisory committee as far as the selection of the location. Number 1195 MS. STASER said she would welcome that. She stated that the museum has control over at least nine of the twenty-one positions on the commission. REPRESENTATIVE PHILLIPS asked if a synopsis of the Forbes article on Eleanor Andrews (ph) could be sent. MS. STASER said she would and stated that the article will be coming out the second week in May. CHAIR BARNES asked Ms. Markley if she could send, prior to the release of the magazine article, a brief piece on what she knows about Eleanor Andrews (ph). MS. MARKLEY said she would. Number 1275 CHAIR BARNES called an at-ease at 5:24 p.m. She called the meeting back to order at 5:25 p.m. Number 1367 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN made a motion to move SSHJR 14 from the committee. There being no objection, SSHJR 14 moved out of the House Special Committee on World Trade and State/Federal Relations.