Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The contradictions of the A.B.

Well, I'm back to it. A year and a half has passed since I posted on here, and a lot longer of a time has passed since I was researching the AB. I've been re-doing some of my research and going down some rabbit holes that had been left unexplored previously, and have come to some intriguing conclusions that need even more research to develop.

By the time I had finished giving my 45-minute presentation on the AB for the national park that I worked at, I was already beginning to be disillusioned with them. At this point, that disillusionment has spiraled into a kind of love-hate relationship. While I admire the spirit the club embodied, I am unsure how to approach that admiration when it's coupled with a tacit discrimination and prejudice.

While other organizations of the time were beginning to add women's auxiliaries and branches, the AB never did so. And while white Alaska residents were beginning to accept that native Alaskans were human beings as well, the AB never seems to have acknowledged natives.

It may even be possible that in a pre-MLK time period, the AB never initiated any blacks either. Unfortunately, of the ten thousand members of the AB, I only have a roster of about 1200. It's hard to prove that they were directly racist without having a complete list of members. However, if none of those 1200 are native or black, it's a likely inference that perhaps none of the 10,000 in all were either.

To attempt to see more of this problem, I've started doing some research on the history of Alaska natives during the time period of 1899-1931, the time when the Arctic Brotherhood was active. Correlation does not imply causation, but I'm beginning to wonder if the Arctic Brotherhood's failure to accommodate races other than white had anything to do with its slow, gradual death as a club.

When the Arctic Brotherhood wrote a letter to Congress in 1904 demanding that Alaska be given representation to Congress, they made explicitly sure to mention that they spoke on behalf of Alaska's 60,000 white residents.

More on this later.

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