JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Hundreds of Alaska residents gathered to celebrate one of the state’s civil rights icons, whose image will soon appear on a U.S. gold dollar.
The Alaska Native Brotherhood and Alaska Native Sisterhood sponsored the event in Juneau Sunday to honor Elizabeth Peratrovich, The Juneau Empire reported.
The U.S. Mint announced in October that the member of Tlingit Nation will become the first Alaska Native to appear on U.S. currency. The collectible coin is scheduled to go on sale this year as part of the mint’s Native American $1 Coin program.
The Elizabeth Peratrovich Day event at the Juneau Tlingit and Haida Community Council marked the 75th anniversary of a famed speech by Peratrovich before the territorial legislature of Alaska.
Elizabeth Peratrovich Day, established in February 1988, celebrates her 1945 speech in support of the Anti-Discrimination Act, which was designed to outlaw discriminatory practices against Alaska Natives across much of the territory.
“I would not have expected that I, who am barely out of savagery, would have to remind gentlemen with 5,000 years of recorded civilization behind them of our Bill of Rights,” Peratrovich said, firing back at a senator who had wondered aloud why Alaska Natives should be afforded equal rights.
Alicia Maryott of the Alaska Native Sisterhood exhorted the crowd in Juneau to follow Peratrovich’s example in standing up to injustice, especially considering the state’s large number of missing and murdered indigenous people.
“Ms. Peratrovich made it clear that asking for equal rights implies that they’re someone else’s to give,” Maryott said. “As we honor her today, let’s remember her resilience.”