World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Legal status of Alaska

Article Id: WHEBN0015322165
Reproduction Date:

Title: Legal status of Alaska  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Politics of Alaska, Castle Hill (Sitka, Alaska), Legal status of Hawaii, History of Alaska
Collection: Alaska Law, Politics of Alaska
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Legal status of Alaska

The legal status of Alaska is the standing of Alaska as a political entity. Generally, the debate has primarily surrounded the legal status of Alaska relative to the United States of America. Alaska is considered to be a state of the United States of America. Nonetheless, Alaska's legal status within the Union has been disputed at times, most recently by a movement launched by Joe Vogler and the Alaskan Independence Party (AIP). In disputes over the legal status of Alaska, a key issue has been the tension between its de facto and de jure international standing.


  • Background 1
  • History 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • Sources 5


Alaska became a territory of the United States in 1867 when it was purchased from the Russian Empire. Events in the 20th century such as World War II and the Cold War led to the decision to add Alaska as a state to the American Union. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Alaska Statehood Act into United States law on 7 July 1958, which paved the way for Alaska's admission into the Union on January 3, 1959.

The vote for statehood was held in 1958. Voters approved the measure by a 6 to 1 margin.[1] Critics of Alaskan statehood, though, claim the vote was flawed. In an interview with WorldNetDaily, Alaskan Independence Party chairman Mark Chryson asserted that Article 76, Section B of the United Nations Charter, which suggests that trust territories should be given the option of independence, should have applied to Alaska, even though it was never a trust territory. The options on the ballot were for statehood or to remain a territory. There was no option for independence on the ballot.[2]

Critics of the vote also note that American military personnel voted in the election. This objection is based on an unsubstantiated allegation that "international law" requires that only the civilian population of a territory may vote. Despite the criticism, the United Nations decolonization committee later removed Alaska from the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.

The debate is considered by some to resemble the same academic discourse being argued by several other activist groups in the United States, including arguments over the legal status of Hawaii and the legal status of Texas.[3][4] The situation most closely resembles Hawaii as the Hawaiian statehood vote also lacked an option for independence.


Joe Volger began arguing about the validity of the statehood vote in 1973. Early in that year, he began circulating a petition seeking support for secession of Alaska from the United States. Alaska magazine published a piece at that time in which Vogler claimed to have gathered 25,000 signatures in three weeks.

During the 1970s, Vogler founded the Alaskan Independence Party (AIP) and Alaskans For Independence. The AIP and AFI, as Vogler explained, were intended to function as strictly separate entities — AIP primarily to explore whether the 1958 vote by Alaskans authorizing statehood was legal, and AFI primarily to actively pursue secession for Alaska from the United States.

During the 2010s, some Russian groups advocated for the return of all or part of Alaska to Russia (which once controlled the territory as Russian America). In 2013, an ultra-conservative Russian Orthodox group, the Pchyolki ("Little Bees"), argued that President Obama's support of gay marriage invalidated the original sale, since "We see it as our duty to protect their [Orthodox Alaskans'] right to freely practice their religion, which allows no tolerance to sin.” [5] In 2014, the mayor of Yakutsk cited documents from the 19th century deeding Spruce Island to the Russian Orthodox Church "for eternity". (Spruce Island was home to Herman of Alaska, a missionary to Native Alaskans who is one of the most-loved Orthodox Christian saints.)

American media reports interpreted the Yakutsk mayor's words as a claim that Spruce Island still belonged to Russia, not the United States. It could also be interpreted as asserting that the Russian Church should own the island under US law. In any case, the comment was simply one man's opinion. The Russian government does not claim Spruce island, and neither does the Russian Orthodox Church. In 1970, in fact, the Russian Orthodox Church ceded its administrative control over Alaska's holy sites when it granted autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in America. [6]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Enriquez, J. The United States of America: Polarization, Fracturing, and Our Future. Crown Publishing, ISBN 0-307-23752-4
  4. ^ Mathson, S and Lorenzen, M.G. We Won't Be Fooled Again: Teaching Critical Thinking via Evaluation of Hoax and Historical Revisionist Websites in a Library Credit Course. College and Undergraduate Librariesivle 76, Section b , 15 (1/2): 211–230.
  5. ^
  6. ^


  • Breeze, Virginia. 1958: Alaska's Statehood Election, Alaska Division of Elections.
  • Enriquez, J. The United States of America: Polarization, Fracturing, and Our Future. Crown Publishing, ISBN 0-307-23752-4.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.