Free, public event to be held in recognition of Indigenous Peoples Day
Oct. 4, 2019
Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) will sponsor a celebration of the national civil rights hero Elizabeth Peratrovich (Kaaxgal.aat) at a public event in honor of Indigenous Peoples Day.
Peratrovich, who was Raven of the Tlingit Lukaax.ádi clan, was a major force behind the passage of Alaska’s Anti Discrimination Bill in 1945, which preceded the nation’s Civil Rights Act of 1964 by nearly 20 years.
Although acclaimed in Alaska through a day celebrated each February in her honor, Peratrovich is not widely known across the country, though that is changing. The United States Mint will release a $1 coin to nationally commemorate her work on civil rights in 2020.
“The country is just beginning to recognize the singular achievements of Elizabeth Peratrovich and her leadership in the area of civil rights,” said SHI President Rosita Worl. “She was ahead of her time, and we are honoring her through Indigenous Peoples Day because she was one of our brightest stars whose voice helped pave the way for equal treatment of Alaska Natives and others.”
Peratrovich was one of a number of civil rights warriors who worked largely through the Alaska Native Brotherhood and Alaska Native Sisterhood to champion the 1964 act.
The celebration will feature a talk by the American civil rights leader and human rights activist Karen K. Narasaki, a national authority on civil rights, census, media diversity, immigrant rights and race relations. She is a consultant to the Bauman Foundation on the census and to the Redistricting Project of the New Venture Fund. In 2014, President Barack Obama appointed her to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
“Karen is one of the country’s foremost experts on civil rights issues and has championed social justice for many years and through some of the nation’s premier civil rights organizations. We are excited to have a guest speaker of her caliber,” said event organizer Jackie Pata, CEO of Tlingit and Haida Regional Housing Authority and former executive director of the National Congress of American Indians.
In the lobby, SHI will show the film For the Rights of All: Ending Jim Crow in Alaska, which tells the story of the state’s civil rights battle, calling it one of the great chapters of the American civil rights movement. SHI will also have the book Fighter in Velvet Gloves: Alaska Civil Rights Hero Elizabeth Peratrovich available. The book was written by Annie Boochever with assistance from Peratrovich’s son, Roy Peratrovich, Jr. SHI will also host a dance performance by the group Yées Ku.oo and offer light snacks in the lobby.
The free event is scheduled from 5-7 pm, Friday, Oct. 11, at Sealaska Heritage Institute, 105, S. Seward St. in Juneau, in honor of Indigenous Peoples Day, which is Monday, Oct. 14. Everyone is welcome.
Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private nonprofit founded in 1980 to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska. Its goal is to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding through public services and events. SHI also conducts social scientific and public policy research that promotes Alaska Native arts, cultures, history and education statewide. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars, a Native Artist Committee and a Southeast Regional Language Committee.
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