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Alaska's 50th23:54
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High school student Amy Bartholemew leads a parade of 200 delegates toward the 50th Anniverary statehood cauldron lighting ceremony in Anchorage, Alaska, on Saturday, Jan. 3, 2009. (AP)
High school student Amy Bartholemew leads a parade of 200 delegates toward the 50th Anniverary statehood cauldron lighting ceremony in Anchorage, Alaska, on Saturday, Jan. 3, 2009. (AP)

The big news: Alaska, the biggest state in the Union, is celebrating fifty years of statehood.

January 3rd, 1959, Alaska came in from the cold, sort of, almost a century after the United States bought the land of tundra, bear, fish, and glacier from the Russians.

Then came oil and pipeline, cruise ships and oil spills, global warming and Sarah Palin.

This hour, On Point: We’re looking back on fifty years of Alaskan statehood.

You can join the conversation. What do you know about America’s “last frontier”? Has the past year changed your take on the state of Alaska?Guests:

From Fairbanks, we're joined by Dermot Cole, a longtime columnist for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner and author of "North to the Future: The Alaska Story, 1959-2009."

From Anchorage, we're joined by Willie Hensley, a longtime activist for Native Alaskans, a former Alaska state legislator, and an Inupiat tribal elder. He founded the Northwest Alaska Native Association in 1966, and spent ten years as a representative and senator in the Alaska state legislature. He just retired last year from a ten-year stint as manager of federal relations for the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company.Author of "Fifty Miles from Tomorrow: A Memoir of Alaska and the Real People."

From Washington, DC, we're joined by Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, now the senior U.S. senator from Alaska.

This program aired on January 6, 2009.

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