The 49th State Golden Anniversary Project
In 2008 and 2009 Alaska will celebrate the golden anniversary of the achievement of Alaska Statehood. Congress passed the Statehood Act in June 1958 and President Eisenhower signed the Statehood Proclamation in January 1959. To commemorate and celebrate this momentous anniversary, the University of Alaska is spearheading Eight Stars of Gold, a multi-faceted educational project targeting school children, community groups and the general public.
Alaskans Welcome Statehood
When Alaskans first welcomed the coming of statehood fifty years ago, they did so with fireworks, parades and an enormous sense of responsibility. Concerned citizens realized their new status as residents of the 49th State required that more--not less--would be demanded of them in order to make the state a viable concern.
Eight Stars of Gold
By any standard, the new state born in 1959 faced enormous political, economic and social challenges as it made the transition from being a territory, a protected ward of the federal government, to a fully-functioning sovereign member of the United States, with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities of self-government. The precarious conditions that faced Alaskans in 1959 are not generally known by Alaskans today. Eight Stars of Gold was created with the hope that an informed citizenry, able to understand and appreciate the struggles of our predecessors, will be better equipped to face the challenges of today and tomorrow. The project is organized around two major questions:
- What are the differences that statehood has made as we look to the past?
- What are the choices that lie ahead as we look to the future?