History is often considered to be a collection of dates, old photographs, buildings and events. However, dates and events fade in memory, photographs are lost, and buildings burn down or are torn down. There is another type of history which lives forever. It is the record of the deeds of men. Their dreams, the life they followed, their accomplishments, their families. On the vast ocean of time, history that is made of dates, events, photos, buildings is a ripple on the water but history based on the people whose hearts and blood and spirit of adventure who settled this Alaska is a great tsunami of the sea of years. It is to these people that the Pioneers of Alaska Fraternity is dedicated. The organization seeks to preserve the names and memory of those who have gone before and have crossed the great divide and those who are still on the trail and are making a difference in our State. People are the history of our Great Land.
|Preserve the names of Pioneers on its rolls, collect, preserve literature and incidents of Alaska history, and promote
the best interest of Alaska.
The Pioneers of Alaska was and still is an organization formed from the need of helping each other survive. Helping by providing food, care, medical, legal assistance, recreational opportunities and social interaction was vital for life in this new and sometimes extremely harsh environment. Conditions of life in this rugged frontier made necessary mutual associations. This northern spirit lives and is the base for the Pioneers of Alaska.
The Pioneers of Alaska was not the first of its kind in the North. Several organizations formed in the early Territorial days to meet the civic and social needs of the growing population. At that time there are a notable lack of government, both Territorial and local and an absence of a viable court system. The affairs of people and their community were handled by themselves, often through miners meetings. These organizations provided physical help--food, shelter, medical, and other assistance, while also promoting civic order--government, courts, and education.
Social and moral needs were met by hosting church services and school activities, and providing dances, dinners, holiday celebrations, and gathering places for conversation for those who spent many lonely days and months out in the Alaska bush. Rituals and ceremonies of these fraternal organizations were established and were very entertaining in keeping with the characteristics of life in the country.
Early organizations included the ‘Sons of the Northwest’, founded in Sitka in 1887; ’Alaska Pioneers’, founded in Kodiak in 1887; ‘87 Pioneers Association’ founded in Juneau in 1887; and ‘Yukon Order of the Pioneers’, established at Forty-Mile on the Yukon River in 1893, who became the largest and most prominent in the area—Lodge No. 1 was at Dawson, Yukon Territory; ‘Arctic Brotherhood’ was established on the Steamboat Seattle bound for the Klondike in 1899—Camp No. 1 was at Skagway—“No boundary line here” was their motto; and ‘Order of the Alaska Moose’─not associated with the Loyal Order of Moose—was established in Valdez in 1899—Tent No. 1 was at Valdez.
Because of the number of similar orders in Alaska and the Northwest Territory, the Grand Igloo adopted the Latin phrases “Ecce Novum Astrum” for use on its logo.
The Pioneers of Alaska began as a similar organization but outlined an idea for a strictly Alaska order to promote not only civic and social interaction but in addition promote ideas that work for the benefit of the territory. Included were promotions for better transportation, statewide education, medical care, court systems, and help for older Alaskan residents.