Elizabeth Peratrovich was an American civil rights activist and Grand President of the Alaska Native Sisterhood. As a member of the Tlingit nation, she worked for the equality of Alaska Natives. Her work was particularly important for her people because many of them were not treated with the same respect they were supposed to receive. The Tlingit nation was the largest in the United States, but she was also the most influential among the Alaska Natives.
As a young woman, Elizabeth Peratrovich attended the Alaska legislature and testified against Senator Whaley, who was against the anti-discrimination movement. The state legislature met every odd-year for sixty days. She met with senators and spoke at public hearings, gaining support for the bill. She was a prominent voice for equality in Alaska. In 1992, the U.S. Mint honored her with a one-dollar coin.
A well-groomed, modern woman, Peratrovich worked as a policeman, a postmaster, and a chief clerk. She was a member of the Alaska Native Brotherhood and served as village mayor for four terms. She had three children and loved watching wrestling. She knew all the moves to Gorgeous George. Regardless of her profession, she was dedicated to making Alaska a better place. She was a proud American, and her speech will inspire others.
She was well-dressed and well-behaved, with high facial planes, bright, black eyes, and shining, dark hair swept away from her forehead. Her speeches were full of eloquence and expression. Her carved Alaskan bracelet was a reminder of her long life and her contribution to the nation. She believed in Alaska’s potential and the future of her people. So, she was a trailblazer.
Although her husband died a week before her mother’s birthday, her children say that her family would be proud to honor their mother by honoring her on her birthday. They say she did not care about personal things, and she had a deep commitment to equality for all Alaskans. They want to honor her, but they need to be careful about her style of speech and not over-emphasize her personal issues.
In September 1990, the ANB and ANS held a banquet in memory of Peratrovich. It was a successful event because the event commemorated the woman who had gone out of her way for her people. As a result, many people in Juneau were inspired by her courage. She was an inspiration to many Alaska Natives. It was the only time in her life that her husband was recognized by a state official.
During the Civil Rights Movement, the Alaskan people were not only able to exercise their right to self-determination. Moreover, they were not allowed to vote for equal rights. In Alaska, the constitution had the same restrictions as the United States. This meant that the Natives were not allowed to vote, but this was the only way to keep the Constitution in order. They fought for their independence. But, the women had to endure discrimination.