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The Legislative Process
ALASKAN MALAMUTE AS OFFICIAL STATE DOG
Since 2007 several classes (grades two through eight) from
Polaris K-12 School
in Anchorage, Alaska have been working on a history and government project to name an Official State Dog of Alaska.
The Malamute project, which began with a kindergartner asking the question, "Why doesn't Alaska have a state dog," grew into a three-year Alaskan history project which ultimately included a study of northern dogs, Alaska's entire history, and a lesson in state government function.
In the 2009 legislative session Representative Berta Gardner introduced
House Bill 14
(HB14) which would recognize the Alaskan Malamute as the Official State Dog. Students from Polaris K-12 School gave detailed testimony to the House State Affairs committee and the bill passed in the House. HB14 then went on to the Senate where students testified again to the Senate State Affairs committee and the Senate Resources committee. HB14 has been waiting in the Senate Rules committee to move to the Senate floor for a vote. Our students have followed the democratic process from idea, research, sponsorship, bill, and testimony to voting on the floor. We would like to see the process completed by taking it to a final vote in the Senate during the 2nd legislative session in 2010.
The students began with several breeds in mind and our research has demonstrated to us that the Alaskan Malamute is the right dog to represent the state. Malamutes have been a part of Alaska's history since the very beginning, many thousands of years ago.
On this web site you can find the student's research (
) and links to the bill (
) and news stories (
Please support us in this process.
April 18, 2010 UPDATE!
On April 18th the Alaska State Legislature completed the process of naming the Alaskan Malamute the state dog when House Bill 14 was passed on the Senate Floor. The bill was passed on the House Floor in the previous session.
Students at Polaris K-12 School in Anchorage put forth this bill, sponsored by Representatvive Berta Gardner, after a multi-year study comparing the different breeds. The Alaskan Malamute won hands down because it has the longest history, dating back to 5,000-200,00 years as noted by archeologists. They date back to the first settlers on the North American continent and were involved in and hugely contributed to every era in Alaska's history. They are still actively used in expeditions today to ANWAR because they can so perfectly withstand the cold temperatures without booties or coats or bedding straw, which is absolutely prohibited in that area. (see www.alaskanarcticexpeditions.com) The Siberian Husky was not imported until 1908 when Gold Miners were beginning to race their dogs for sport and wanted to develop a smaller, faster dog, now referred to as the "Alaska Husky," for this purpose. The Malamute was a freighting dog, not meant for sprinting.
This bill is not about sled dog racing, which is Alaska's official state sport, it's cleebrates alaska's history and the dog that's been there every step of the way.
See the Alaskan Malamute's Nutshell history below:
Alaskan Malamute History
In the Alaskan Malamute’s 5000 plus years, it's been involved in every important era of Alaska's history.
Earliest Native People (3000BC to Present)
The Alaskan Malamute, one of the twelve ancient breeds and one of the oldest Arctic sled dogs, was named after the native Inuit tribe called Mahlemuts, who settled along the shores of Kotzebue Sound in the upper western part of Alaska, within the Arctic Circle over 5,000 years ago. They worked closely with early the Arctic settlers to hunt and track and pull heavy sledges loaded with supplies. They kept a lookout for bears and guarded the caribou herds. They even baby-sat the Inuit children while parents were out on hunts, which is one reason they make very good family pets. They were so gentle that they allowed the human babies to crawl in and snuggle up with their puppies. Their use of dogs was a partnership for survival.
European Explorers -- 1700-1800’s
The journals and logs of Captain Cook and other European explorers to Alaska showed that they were VERY impressed by the big, strong, hardworking Alaskan Malamute who got along and worked so well with humans. They note that the dogs kept by the Mahlemut people were better cared for than was usual for Arctic sled dogs, and this seemingly accounts for the breeds affectionate disposition.
Russian Alaska -- 1731-1867
Travel logs of the early Russian and English explorers often reported a superior and better kept type of work dog kept by the Mahlemut people. They wrote about them being less “wild”, more friendly and easy going, and capable of an enormous amount of work, both hunting and hauling.
Alaska Purchase & Statehood -- 1867-1959
Long after the Gold Rush, Alaskan Malamutes continued to be valuable freight dogs. They were easy to care for and could pull very heavy loads to areas that were otherwise not accessible. Often, they carried a thousand pounds of mail at a time, and it is said they would arrive in Nome, frisky and ready to run again. Their efforts helped to open up Alaska for settlement and development.
The Gold Rush -- 1896-1906+/-
By the time of the Gold Rush, Alaskan Malamutes, with their ability to haul equipment and people, were in high demand. They were so highly valued that a prospector would pay $500 dollars for one good dog and $1500 for a small team!
Polar Expeditions -- Multiple expeditions between 1909-1956
Alaskan Malamutes contributed to the polar expeditions of Perry, Amundsen, and Byrd to the South Pole. They were employed to pull the heavy supply sleds. The successful exploration of this vast continent could not have been accomplished without the help of the Alaskan Malamute. They were able to work for weeks on end without negative effects of the daily strain. They still actively do this work today.
Helping France in World War I. -- 1914-1918
During World War I., the Alaskan Malamute was called into service by the French army where troops in far-reaching mountain outposts were surrounded and cut off from supplies. The Nome Kennel Club shipped 450 Alaska Malamutes to France where the dogs easily tackled the harsh conditions and moved needed supplies to save the day.
The Serum Run -- 1925
Alaskan Malamutes participated in the historical 1925 Serum Run to Nome, a fact that most people do not know. Doing its Patriotic Part in World War II. -- 1939-1945 The Alaskan Malamute was important to America’s efforts during World War II. They pulled sleds in snow covered areas that were not accessible to other, more mechanical means of transportation. They were used as pack animals to carry weaponry and ammunition, served as search-and-rescue dogs, and sniffed for mines. The military tried to make the Alaskan Malamute guard dogs, but they failed the test because they just liked people too much to attack a person.
Working in the Expeditions that First Discovered Prudhoe Bay -- 1906-Present Day
Alaskan Malamutes provided transportation for Ernest de Koven Leffingwell’s pioneering mapping of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge geology and the Arctic coastline. They were there when Leffingwell first speculated that Prudhoe Bay would one day become what it is today…the largest oil field in North America
May 14, 2010 UPDATE!
Governor signs bill making the Alaska Malamute Alaska's state dog
Polaris K-12 School students and teachers applaud the experience and results
- Over four hundred students, teachers and parents joined Governor Sean Parnell and Representative Berta Gardner (D- Anchorage) Wednesday as the governor signed House Bill 14 into law, making the Alaskan Malamute the official state dog. The signing was the culmination of three years work by students at Polaris K-12 School in Anchorage.
Three years ago kindergartener Paige Hill brought the idea to school. After some preliminary research, two first grade classes decided the Alaskan Malamute merited the designation and asked Rep. Gardner to carry the bill on their behalf. By the time the bill was introduced in 2009, the project had grown into an all-school project.
"It was a good experience," said Hill, who is now in the third grade. "It wasn't easy, but it was fun. I am glad the Malamute is the state dog and my grandma Shirley is very proud of me. It is very exciting to see the governor sign the bill."
The students researched the Alaskan Malamute and the legislative process, drafted supporting documents for the bill and built public support for their cause. "I'm honored to have been asked to be a part of this effort and am really proud of these students," said Gardner. "I know they learned a lot, and I hope it inspires them to keep participating in the public process." "The students of Polaris have worked long and hard to see this historic lesson in civics become a reality; how fortunate for all of us to be participants in this event," said Denise Greene-Wilkinson, principal of Polaris K-12 School. "This project was learning at its very best. I'm both proud and impressed with the amazing efforts of all of our students," said Jamie Rodriguez, teacher at Polaris K-12 School. "If they are the future, we're in good hands."
Background: Alaskan Malamutes History in Alaska
The Alaskan Malamute has played an important role in Alaska's history for at least four thousand years. Considered one of the twelve ancient breeds, the Alaskan Malamute evolved from the ancient dogs that accompanied prehistoric man in his migrations from Asia, reaching back to the earliest days of prehistory Alaska with the Mahlemut people, now known as Inuits, in Northwestern Alaska. They lived and worked closely with their dogs, depending on them as partners in hunting large game, hauling heavy loads, and even helping to watch children. Eighteenth and nineteenth century European explorers to Alaska were impressed with the breed and by the time of the gold rush, Alaskan Malamutes, with their ability to haul equipment and people, were in high demand. They were so highly valued that a prospector would pay $500 dollars for one good dog and $1500 for a small team. Long after the Gold Rush, Alaskan Malamutes continued to be valuable freight dogs. They were easy to care for and could pull heavy loads to areas that were otherwise inaccessible. During the 1925 Serum Run to Nome, about 150 sled dogs, including Alaskan Malamutes, relayed diphtheria antitoxin 674 miles by dog sled in a record-breaking five and a half days saving the small city of Nome and the surrounding communities from an incipient epidemic.
Source of News
Office of Representative Berta Gardner
AUGUST 29, 2010 UPDATE!
Announcement – 2011 Arctic Expedition
Posted on August 29, 2010 by Alaskan Arctic Expeditions
This year Joe and the team will set out on a 3.5 month, unsupported, solo dog sledding expedition in Arctic Alaska. The expedition is a tribute to Alaska’s new official State dog, the Alaskan Malamute.
School kids from Polaris K-12 in Anchorage proposed House Bill 14, which would designate the malamute as our state dog. After three years of hard work and in depth research to help them make their case to the legislature, the kids and their teachers met with success and Governor Sean Parnell signed the bill into law.
The 2011 Arctic Expedition is dedicated to all the kids who worked on that project. It’s the best way we know how to show our appreciation to these individuals for their hard work in making it possible and also to show them that the Alaskan malamute continues to thrive in the arctic in modern times.
(You can find Alaskan Arctic Expeditions at
, click Blog on the menu bar to see their blog. See additional entries by clickiing RSS Feed at upper left.)
Alaskan Arctic Expeditions
ADDITIONAL LESSONS LEARNED
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed individuals can change
the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
- Margaret Mead
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