June 19th, 1942
U.S. Army Camp
Your recent order prohibiting your soldiers from associating with the Native people is rather far reaching and it is resented by our Native People. Since some of our boys are already in the service, we are wondering what effect your order will have in regards them talking to their own people.
We grant that they are some bad ones in our groups but isn't that the truth in both races? For instances the disease that you speak of is just as prevalent among the white high school girls in Juneau as it is in other races. And the reports are that some of the high school girls are even pregnant. It would have been more appropriate If your order covered everyone regardless of race, color or creed.
It is unfortunate that the race question should be given publicity when our country is at war. Half of the population in Alaska is composed of Indians and it will be worth while to treat them on equal terms. Our Native boys are already in the armed forces and are making the same sacrifices as their white friends. No class distinction was made during the draft. Our officials in Washington did not say that we cannot take Indians into the armed forces because they are not our equals. They have drafted our Native boys and they are going willingly to defend our country. Race question is a serious thing anytime and it is more so during this emergency. Our country needs the full cooperation of its Native people and they should be treated with respect.
For a good many years the white people have looked down on the Filipinos but they proved their ability and measured up to the whites during the hectic defense of their Native land. The situation might have been complicated if they had refused to cooperate because of discriminations they were subjected to before the war.
One of the reasons this war is being fought is because of race discrimination and our nation has preached equality of all races and guarantees that right by the constitution of the United States.
I trust that here after that orders issued will not single out any particular race.
Very truly yours,
Grand Pres., Alaska Native Brotherhood
ALASKA NATIVE BROTHERHOOD
Juneau, Feb. 16, 1943
Board of Directors USO
Subject: Racial Discrimination
Regulations prohibit any soldier from publicly associating with Indian girls. The inference drawn is that there are no decent Indian girls, and that the regulations are to protect the soldiers from contamination.
We hold no brief for immoral Indian girls any more than for a white girl. We do not ask that uncontrolled association be permitted. But we do insist that there is a large group of Indian girls are being insulted by classing them with the scum of the notorious dives of Juneau. Not a few of these girls are in federal employ right here in Juneau.
To relieve this situation we suggest that someone who is acquainted with and has knowledge of the character and health of these people be placed upon your board of patronesses. That this member shall advise the board as to the fitness or unfitness of applicants from this group and action of the board shall be final. Those passed as fit will be protected by the GSO band and will not be embarrassed by peremptory action of MP's.
Recently cited by General MacArthur for its great war against the Japs was a squadron of dive bombers. In that group was Ensign Dick Balenti whose mother is an Indian woman from Ketchikan. Were she in Juneau she would be barred from associating with service men while her son was expending himself on Guadalcanal. The blood of our Indian youth has already been spilled upon the deserts of Africa and other fronts.
The blood of these Indians is being expended to protect the civil, political and property rights of foreign racials on foreign soil. These men who have been and who are being expended say to you in dealing with their wives, sisters and mothers "Remember Us." They say to you that their wives and sisters are entitled to the same rights as are being fought for in China, Europe and Africa.
[initialed by Roy Peratrovich]
March 12, 1943
Mr. Sid Charles
Editor Fishing News
Dear Mr. Charles:
Just received your issue of March 3rd, 1943 and noticed the reference you make to our Equal Rights Bill in your Grins and Groans column.
For your information, Mr. Charles, this Bill was not proposed on the spur of the moment. It was prepared after a years careful study. Through the aid of our Delegate to Congress, Hon. Anthony J. Dimond, we obtained twenty-eight photostatic copies of Bills dealing with Race Discrimination; Bills that were passed by twenty-eight States in the Union. The data gathered from these Bills were incorporated in our Bill and clauses added to meet our needs. It may interest you to know that those Bills were introduced after our country was plunged into the present war. These legislators realized that in order to show unity and to conform to the policies of our great President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, they would first clean their own back yard before shouting Democracy, equal rights for all races, etc.
Mr. Charles, you cannot deny the fact that the Indian has been and still is being discriminated against in Alaska. This may not be so obvious at Ketchikan, but it certainly is an open secret at Juneau and a few other towns. There are two or more signs in Juneau and Douglas reading "No Natives Allowed." We tried everything possible to remove these signs but did not succeed. In view of this failure, we felt the only way to remove these signs would be by law. The result of course was the introduction of the so-called Equal Rights Bill. I may add here that under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, we are given equal rights. The defeat of our Bill does not mean we are to be denied the privileges enjoyed by other citizens. We are all citizens of this country and we still can hold up our heads high, mix and compete with our write brethren.
The following men and woman voted against the Bill: Egan, Hardcastle, Mrs. Linck, Rogge, Roust, Scott, Smith and Whaley. Those that supported the Bill were: Davis, Janne, O'Shea, Kenoe, Gunderson, Lander, McCutcheon and Porter. The thing that impressed us and those that were in the gallery was the opponents lack of convincing arguments against the Bill; if they had any they certainly were not able to express themselves intelligently. I rather felt sorry for them. Realizing their limitations, as legislators, and rather than make fools of themselves by not properly expressing their views, they called on Dr. Ryan, Commissioner of Education, R.E. Robertson and H.L. Faulkner, attorneys to testify for them. I believe it is high time that the people wake up to the fact that they must send men to the legislature that can think for themselves and not be pulled around like children by a few familiar with parliamentary procedure. This condition has been quite evident not only on our Bill but other Bills that have been before the legislature.
I may make myself clear by saying that the above references are made to the eight house members that voted against our Bill and not the Senate. The eight members mentioned have stuck together on almost all issues right or wrong. The Senate has lived up to its true traditions in being open minded on all legislation coming before them and maintaining their dignity. As a matter of record, I wish to list the Senators that voted for our Bill and is as follows: N.R. Walker, A.P., Walker, O.D. Cochran, Ed Coffey, Nordale, McCutcheon and Gordon. Stangroom of Nome dissented.
There are some of our Native people that have felt that whatever the A.N.B. does is no concern of theirs since they themselves do not belong to the organization. The A.N.B. has been and still is fighting for the rights of all Native people regardless of whether or not all of them belong. When legislation is introduced affecting our people, the legislators do not mention just the A.N.B. members; they include all Native people. This was brought to light during the discussion of our Bill. Metlakatla was used as an argument against the Bill, yet they don't belong to our organization. It is my hope that someday soon the Metlakatlans will see the advisability of joining us in our fight and help improve the conditions of our Native people. We cannot isolate ourselves. We are all Natives and proud of that fact.
The Bill was not defeated on its merits; it was defeated because those that voted against the Bill are prejudiced against the Indian. For when you boiled down their arguments it amounted to just this: that they feel superior to the Indians and that the Indian should be deprived of the privileges they enjoy.
I want to take this time to thank the A.F. of L. and the C.I.O. for the support they gave us in this Bill. It was gratifying to know at least we had the support of the common laboring classes.
We have one consolation however, that the judiciary department of our government is fair. The Juvenile Bill was declared unconstitutional because they had inserted a discriminatory clause regarding Indian children. The Widow's and Orphans Act will soon be tested, and I dare say it will also be held unconstitutional because of its discriminatory nature. Even with this ruling[s] the legislature still feels they can pass discriminatory legislation. There is just one answer for that, "Prejudice."
We cite as outstanding examples of heroism in the present conflict Major General Clarence L. Tinker, an Osage Indian of Oklahoma, who met a patriot's death in the Hawaiian Islands while leading a fleet of bombers in pursuit of the Japs; Lieut. Bertrand Leaske of Metlakatla, and Alaskan born who achieved historic renown in the Mediterranean by helping in sinking an Axis tanker. Many more could be referred to but the fair-minded citizen knows that the Indian, being the original American and knowing no other land, is inherently patriotic. While brave American boys, whites, Indians and Negroes, are fighting on foreign battlefields for the preservation and extension of Democracy let us not make a mockery of it by denying it at home to certain racial groups whose ancestors were in this great land before Columbus came.
I trust you will publish this letter because it is necessary that our side of the question be made known.
Yours very truly,
Grand President, A.N.B.
Fort Ray, Alaska
May 11, 1943
Mr. E.H. Craven
Director of the U.S.O.
It is the policy of the Commanding Officer of this Post to prohibit the association of soldiers with native women. This policy has been in effect since the origin of this Post and will be continued in the future.
No reflection is cast upon the native women and this policy is followed for their protection.
This information is for your guidance.
For the Commanding Officer:
TERRITORY OF ALASKA
Office of the Governor
May 20, 1943
Lieutenant General Simon B. Buckner
Fort Richardson, Alaska
Dear General Buckner:
I am transmitting herewith a memorandum from Superintendent Claud M. Hirst of the Office of Indian Affairs of Alaska protesting against the Army practice forbidding the association of white soldiers with girls of American Indian or American Eskimo extraction.
Mr. Hirst feel[s] that such an order is offensive toward our Alaska Indians, Eskimos and Aleuts; that it does not accomplish what it was perhaps aimed to accomplish and that it ought to be rescinded.
I concur fully in Mr. Hirst's position and would go even further. I think it is scarcely necessary to elaborate on the underlying issues of this war throughout the world and that our democracy and non-discrimination against people because of their race must begin at home. So I urge you to rescind the orders issued by the various Alaska post commanders of the type quoted in Mr. Hirst's memorandum; that order happens to be the text of the order issued by the post commander in Juneau.
I believe that a general order by you voiding any such discrimination against our original Alaska Americans will have a most salutary effect, both at home and abroad.
Governor of Alaska
MEMORIAL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
P.O. Box 2838
June 24, 1943
General Simon B. Buckner
As a citizen, and a member of the Thlinget Tribe of Indians, I appreciate the great responsibility you have in the direction of maintaining the rights of democracy in our great land.
With your time and energy consumed by a crucial warfare in our behalf I feel somewhat reluctant to be taking your time, yet the issue which lies on my heart is of such importance that I must make the plea. The order of which we are all aware of relative to troops forbidden to associate with native women may have been put into effect with good intentions. The result has been one of abuse and embarrassment. It places the entire native population under a class of folk as might be termed undesirable. You will agree that a ruling to that end is unjust and indeed not consistent with principles underlying our democracy. In all nationalities we find the undesirable character, yet not all are made to suffer for the misbehavior of the few, even the Bible holds to that truth.
In the case of barring our young native girls, who in many respects command a character without reproach, from USO functions ought to be revoked and thus eliminate what many of us believe is unworthy.
Your fullest co-operation in this matter will receive our appreciation.
WaIter A. Soboleff