Overlooked No More: Elizabeth Peratrovich, Rights Advocate for Alaska Natives

Overlooked No More: Elizabeth Peratrovich, Rights Advocate for Alaska Natives

It was hardly the first affront. They had grown up in a segregated Alaska: separate schools, hospitals, theaters, restaurants and cemeteries. But for Elizabeth Peratrovich and her husband, Roy, Tlingit natives, the sign they spotted one day in late 1941 in Douglas, just across the channel from downtown Juneau, was the final straw.

“No Natives Allowed” read the notice on a hotel door.

“The proprietor of Douglas Inn does not seem to realize that our Native boys are just as willing as the white boys to lay down their lives to protect the freedom that he enjoys,” they wrote in a letter to Ernest Gruening, the territory’s governor, signaling the start of their campaign to fight discrimination in Alaska.

Calling such open bias “an outrage,” the couple continued, “We will still be here to guard our beloved country while hordes of uninterested whites will be fleeing South.”

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