The Big Dipper
The eight golden stars on the Alaska Flag - designed in 1927 by Benny Benson, a 13-year-old orphan of Aleut, Russian and Swedish heritage - include the seven points of the Big Dipper (or part of Ursa Major, the Great Bear), and solitary Polaris, the North Star, at the center of the sky. These eight stars on a field of blue provide the inspiration for the University of Alaska's "Eight Stars of Gold" Statehood Anniversary Project.
In order to more fully appreciate what the State of Alaska has accomplished during its half-century, and also to recognize what remains to be done, the eight components of the project will each explore one facet of Alaska life. Through this coordinated program of education, informed discussion and public outreach, the University of Alaska is committed to helping residents better understand the blessings, duties and responsibilities of being an Alaska citizen.
Just as Benson chose the color blue to represent the "Forget-Me-Not," Ursa Major as a symbol of strength, and the Pole Star as the future, "Eight Stars of Gold" is about the power of remembrance and the courage it takes to face the unknown frontier of tomorrow. Eight Stars is dedicated to the proposition that the genuine strength and humility that comes from a greater knowledge of the past, will help Alaskans to create a brighter future.