We didn't discuss the recent launch ceremony for the Native American $1 Coin featuring Civil Rights pioneer Elizabeth Peratrovich. This article interviews the author of a
book on Peratrovich's life. -Editor
Boochever wrote “Fighter in Velvet Gloves”, a book about the life of Elizabeth Peratrovich. The Kuskokwim Consortium Library hosted the author book talk Friday,
September 27th, 2019 for Bethel residents.
Boochever introduced herself in the Tlingit language. She said that there are 24 sounds in Tlingit that are not used in English.
She told the audience that her teacher friends suggested that she write a book about Elizabeth Peratrovich. At the time, Boochever didn’t think that she would be the one to
She said that she found out about Roy Peratrovich Jr. through her niece who knew of some work that Roy was involved in. Roy, who is a certified engineer, is also an esteemed
Tlingit artist. At 85 years old he is the only living child of Elizabeth and Roy Peratrovich Sr.
So Boochever wrote Roy a letter and he wrote her back. And that is how the idea of writing the book came about, the book about Elizabeth Wannamaker Peratrovich.
Fighter in Velvet Gloves was officially released on February 16, 2019. February 16, 1945 was the date that the anti-discrimination law was signed by the Alaska Territorial
Boochever spoke about how Ernst Gruening was the Peratrovich’s “greatest ally” in their fight against racial anti-discrimination. Gruening was the Alaska Territorial Governor
from 1939 to 1953 and he was Jewish. He knew what discrimination felt like, she said. Gruening had even asked businesses to take down the loathsome “No Natives” signs, but they
said no, said Boochever. The Peratroviches asked him to introduce the Anti-Discrimination Act.
“Only by law, by bills,” said Boochever. “Gruening asked her to fly around the state to advocate for native civil rights.”
So she did. The Peratroviches found another ally in Sheldon B. “Shell” Simmons, a bush pilot. He agreed to take Elizabeth to communities whenever he had a seat available so
that she could talk to people. So she flew to many places.
On October 5th, 2019, United States Mint (Mint) Chief Administrative Officer Patrick Hernandez unveiled the reverse (tails) design for the 2020 Native American $1 Coin
featuring Elizabeth Peratrovich during the Alaska Native Brothers and Alaska Native Sisters Convention at Alaska Pacific University.
“This coin will be a lasting tribute to Elizabeth Peratrovich and her relentless efforts to tear down the wall of discrimination against Alaskan Natives,” said Mr. Hernandez.
“We will proudly produce this coin that honors her bravery and determination.”
I grew up in Pittsburgh and I've never forgotten something I saw as a kid on a vacation trip to the Washington, D.C. area. It was the late 1960s. At a rest stop in
Maryland, over a water fountain, was a sign that said "White Only". I stared at it like it came from Mars, unable to fathom why it existed. -Editor
To read the complete article, see:
Elizabeth Peratrovich biography author visits Bethel on book tour
Her portrait will appear on the reverse (tails) side of a $1 coin, accompanied by the symbol of the Tlingit Raven moiety, or descent group, of which she was a member. The
bottom of the design is framed by the inscription, "ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAW OF 1945."
Under the Native American $1 Coin Act, the US Mint began minting $1 coins whose designs celebrate the vital contributions to US history and development made by Native American
individuals and tribes. The first coin of the series, produced in 2000, highlighted Sacagawea, a Shoshone woman known for her guidance of the historic Lewis and Clark expedition.
Other years have featured designs to commemorate the continental spread of the horse, Mohawk iron workers' contribution to building New York City skyscrapers, and the
pioneering achievements of Native Americans in the US Space Program.
To read the complete article, see:
Alaska Native and civil rights icon Elizabeth Peratrovich to be featured on $1
Wayne Homren, Editor
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