A LITTLE boy who had lived his short life in outlying creek camps was brought to Fairbanks not long ago and attended his first church service. Fascinated by all he saw in the ancient order of the mass, he nearly broke up the congregation by exclaiming in a loud whisper:
” Ma! Why do the kids in white parkas make a smudge in winter? There ain’t no skeeters, around here now, is there? ”
However, most of Alaska’s citizens, both white and copper, are much more familiar with the inside of a church than was this little lad; for all of Alaska’s white towns are church supplied, and many missions minister to the native population. I’m sure that numerous Americans, even as I myself, received our very first knowledge of Alaska from the lips of these returning missionaries, for many of the clearest and most detailed accounts of native conditions have been given by them. Father Jette the Tanana scholar, Archdeacon Stuck the famous explorer, the Chapman family of the lower Yukon who have de-voted two generations of life-work to the natives of Anvik, Thomas the brilliant sportsman and intelligent observer of the Point Hope Tigara, Ziegler the noted artist of Cordova, S. Hall Young the writer and Muir’s pen-and-canoe companion, Bishop Rowe the effective organizer of frontiersmenall these, our friends, have come to Alaska to teach and all have remained to learn in her post-graduate school. And you and I learned of Alaska from themof different sections according to our different creeds. For many of our mission boards, early in this century, formed a gentleman’s agreement not to poach on one another’s preserves in the Alaskan field, but, wisely and for added efficiency in service, each to concentrate his work in a particular district.
That’s why, if you are a Presbyterian, you are most familiar with Southeastern Alaska and the work of S. Hall Young and Sheldon Jackson; if a Moravian, then this oldest Protestant missionary body in Alaska will have told you of ” The Society of the United Brethren for Propagating the Gospel Among the Heathen,” and of their several missions established among Indians and Eskimos of the Kuskokwim and upper Bristol Bay regions, where they have been at work for so many years. The Baptists selected Cook’s Inlet and Prince William Sound; while if you follow the Roman faith, then surely you have listened to accounts of the magnificent work at Holy Cross in real industrial education; the Methodist Church chose the difficult Aleutians and the Peninsula; if you are of the Episcopalian creed, then the Interior of Alaska and the country northward has been unfolded to you and the story of the Tinneh and their problems; the Swedish and Norwegian missions occupy Norton Sound and Port Clarence, and the Congregationalists hold posts along Bering Sea and Bering Strait. This agreement has to do with native and not white centers of population, for in white towns there are many churches. The various mission boards have done their work so well that they now supply the largest body of literature available about the native population of various sections of Alaska, and it is needless here to duplicate that already well-told story.
Others have traced the thread of education in Alaska through a national rather than a religious maze of industrythe Bureau of Education. William Hamilton, assistant chief of the Alaskan division, says :
For the native Alaskans, the Bureau of Education provides teachers, physicians, and nursestrained workers who have at heart the welfare of their charges. It maintains schools, hospitals, and orphanages, relieves destitution, fosters trade, organizes cooperative business enterprises, establishes colonies, and controls the reindeer industry (a recent Executive Order has transferred this control to Alaska’s governor). . . The 27,000 natives are scattered along thousands of miles of coast and on the great rivers, in villages ranging from 30 or 40 to 300 or 400 persons. The work would extend to the utmost limits of the United States, in terms of distance, with schools in Maine, California, Georgia, and Minnesota. One of the school districts is twice the size of the State of Illinois. Many of the 83 settlements in which the bureau’s work is located are far beyond the limits of regular transportation and mail service.
We have seen that Sheldon Jackson, of the Bureau of Education, was the man with a dream who introduced reindeer to Alaskacertainly a distinct constructive contributionas is also the work of the Training School at Sitka and the Holy Cross experiments in farming and herding.
Holy Cross is a Catholic Mission on the lower Yukon, twenty-five miles below Anvik. Established in ’86, it has now a splendid plant built up by the patient industry of a long-visioned Church. The times I’ve been at Holy Cross and talked with the Fathers there, it has seemed to me that they have a different (and perhapsI do not know a better) view of education for the natives than have some of our Protestant missions. True to our individual ideas, we Protestants have tried to educate to a high plane certain outstanding individuals among the natives. The Roman Church seems to be trying to develop a more complex, able and mentalized people from the material at hand, rather than develop strikingly gifted individuals. On my second visit to Holy Cross I had a long talk with one of the Fathers there, a talk which I have turned over in my mind many times since. He said:
Human nature is plastic, adaptive, impressionable. It reacts to environment, and we have tried to produce here factors of environment which will make real building possible, in later generations. Our Church is a patient Mother, and it is upon the known amount and degree of change producible by man-directed agencies that She has based her work here. We take only young children, and only on the condition that they shall stay a certain definite time. The children of our school (and their children, for many marry here and grow up into our community) become adapted physiologically and even physically to better and better living. We believe that we must have three generations of wheat eaters if we are truly to build a new civilization here, and that’s why we are all farmers. Heredity helps in making adaptation progressively easier. It’s easier to see this in animals, because their life span is shorter; but if, as you tell me, you broke horses to city use and cars twenty years ago and have done so recently, you’ll see what I mean. Colts seem to come into the world, nowadays, with the auto idea fixed safely and sanely in their little headsas city babies lisp to-day, I’m told, of gears and magnetos ! That’s what we’re doing here. The white and copper races must become adjusted to each otheror the copper race will surely be lost. We wish to make its survival possible, by hereditary adjustments to the basic facts of civilizationto immunize our people to the dangers of civilization by inoculating them with easily-assimilable amounts of the new, at proper times. We believe that an over-exposure to our civilization, all at once, causes disease and fever, not a healthy mind or body. We believe that there is real danger in over-stimulation, in stepping too suddenly from the Stone Age to the Twentieth Century. As you or I would need time to adjust physically to a Stone Age existence, these people need time to adjust mentally to this strange new world of European Civilization.
Education in Alaska began with Gregory Shelikof, father and founder of Russian colonies in America, as he was the first man to do something for the Alaska natives. At Kodiak, in 1784, he began to teach some rudiments of reading and arithmetic, and his wife Natalia, who accompanied him on all his voyages, began to instruct in domestic sciencepossibly moved by the ” servant problem,” which must have been pressing in this new raw colony! Catherine II, that ” liberal Empress,” became interested in the work and sent out some helpers in 1794. The first school in Sitka was started in 1820, where the natives were taught Russian, trades, and navigation; while in 1840 Captain Etolin, a half caste who had been instructed in local schools, was made director of the Company, and both he and his wife did much in a school way. Veniaminof established a theological seminary at Sitka which continued until the transfer of the Territory to the United States.
We Americans talk much about our notable interest in education, and so it is a matter of shame that from 1867 to 1884 the Alaska natives were left school-less by our government, and even Russia’s rudimentary work was not continued until Sheldon Jackson, that tireless pioneer, secured a small appropriation under the Bureau of Education. The Presbyterians had opened a school at Wrangell in 1877, however, and at Sitka a year later, while Moravians and Friends were at work at the mouths of the Yukon and Kuskokwim and at Kotzebue Sound. In 1896 Senator Teller of Colorado secured funds from Congress for reindeer distribution, since grown so valuable, and the Bureau of Education and the missions have worked loyally together in developing the rein-deer industry. The school system of Alaska is in four partsmunicipal, district, rural and Federal. The first three are under the general supervision of the Territorial Commissioner of Education at Juneau, and the last-namedthe Eskimo and Indian vocational schoolsare supervised by the Commissioner of Education of the United States. Many Alaska towns have excellent high schools, and in all the ” white ” towns you will find educational facilities of a higher grade than in communities of similar size in many outside states. I know of no Alaska town without a public library and reading room.
A new continent means many different things to many different groups of people. When Spain first opened up a new world, when France first penetrated the Saint Lawrence and the Mississippi, when Englishmen began to colonize the eastern coast, there were among them all some few to whom the new land chiefly meant new souls of ” savages ” to save. To others, these were ports of new trade and barter, new natural resources to be opened up and exploited the “fish and furs and mynes of Gold and Copper of Captain John Smith’s account; or it seemed a place of new fame and new fortune, or a place to make peaceful and fruitful new colonies, secure from many types of distraction prevalent in the Old World. And the interests of these many different types of empire founders often clashed.
Here in Alaska, which is a New America, there has been from the very beginning a group whose main interest was and still is the welfare and education and Christianization of the native peoples, just as in New Spain, New France, or New England. Here, too, their interests sometimes clash with those of traders, explorers, and settlers; and there are two distinct schools of thought as to how the native population can best be helped and protected and put upon their feetwhether by educating them so thoroughly into our ways that they in time become completely absorbed in the body of our citizens; or the Father Duncan school, which holds that natives should be left to keep all their own culture and racial ways not actually brutal, and be given ” only as much of our culture as is good for them and they can readily absorb.” Different missions in Alaska are working differently upon this problem, and it is extremely interesting to watch the contrastive results.
One church concentrates on agriculture, herding, living conditions; another stresses medical missions, others preach the benefits of cleanliness or of common-school education. All are excellent ends, all are needed, all are doing good, in different ways and by various means. The problem is complex and is capable of many diverse answers, because the natives of Alaska are not of one race or people but many, stand upon different rungs of Civilization’s ladder, and have their individual qualities, capacities and temperaments. Some traders oppose the missions because, they say, “The missioner teaches the native to read and count.” That is, the native can now find out for himself the market value of fish and fur, and is therefore not to be cheated! I have known other traders who have given richly of their time and patience to instruct and be big brother to the native people. It’s in the spirit, not the letter, that we seem to meet most closely. But I, who have knelt and received Holy Communion from the hands of an Indian priest, cannot well thereafter look upon him as an alien or a savage. Can I? Or is Robert Lowie right in saying that we are all of us “savages” very close under the skin, and ” to say that we are savage is to say’ that we are human ” ?
But if the problem of native education is as yet but a trail, and a trail of many conflicting blazes, white secular education in Alaska has taken the traditional American paved highway and is travel-ling at a stiff speed. High-school enrollments are increasing at a faster rate than elementary schools, indicating that the country is becoming more and more stabilized, more a land of genuine homes. Parent-Teacher Associations with memberships of thousands have sprung up, and the last figures which I can find show a total of a hundred and sixty-seven schools in our Territory, three hundred and sixty-four teachers, enrollment of eight thousand, and an annual expenditure of close to a million dollars. This, for our new and tiny scattered population, shows a healthy growth of up-shooting children. Yesterday’s Fairbanks paper gave notice of a pre-school private kindergarten to be started, pupils leave Wacker for Ketchikan High School by stage now that the fine new government highway has eliminated distance, and more than half of Alaska’s white high-school graduates are going on to college. Our Fairbanks High School of nearly a hundred pupils publishes a lively annualthe Ursa Major, of a hundred pages and many illustrationsas well as The Vega, a news sheet called ” The Farthest North School Paper.” Fairbanks boasts a school library of sixteen hundred volumes, a gymnasium, six new classrooms in the last two years so that now no teacher has classes of over twenty-five, both boys’ and girls’ basket-ball teams, a Junior High School band of twenty pieces, a Glee Club of fifty members, a separate manual-arts building and domestic-science rooms. In educational matters, we white folk are better off, by a good deal, than were New England colonists in old days. Twenty-seven years after the founding of Plymouth a Massachusetts law provided that every town of fifty families must maintain a teacher and each town of a hundred families a grammar school. Twenty-seven years after the founding of Fairbanks an Alaskan law provides that wherever there are six children of school age, a teacher may be requested for a cooperative ” rural ” school, while ten are the minimum number for a district school maintained by the Territory.
The Road to Higher Education begins in Fairbanks, too, and winds out from town four miles to the Hill of Birches which one climbs to ” The Farthest North College in the World,” a going concern for several years past. Everything here is farthest, you see, and so we are not content with merely a comparatively ” higher ” education, but must call it highest! The college seal shows the pro-file of Denali, the mountain which is faced across the wide Tanana from that Hill of Birches, and it bears the ambitious motto and Summumto the very top. To live up to the rarified atmosphere of McKinley’s summit may tax our poor human lungs; but here at the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines, the last of the land-grant colleges, we take our fling at it.
Massachusetts had John Harvard’s little school only sixteen years after the Pilgrims came, but we of the North set in place a cornerstone for our Alaska College only thirteen years after the coming of Pedro, Barnette and Wada to this Tanana camp. Judge Wickersham said, as he laid that stone: ” The Pioneers of Alaska are gathered here . on this beautiful birch-clad hill, where until to-day only the foot of the moose and the wild Tana hunter have trod . . . to dedicate to the use of our youth a college for the special study of the sciences connected with agriculture and mining. . .
Among those now gathered around this stone . . are students from many lands and graduates from many collegesfrom Yale and Vassar, Oxford and Harvard, and from the universities of nearly every state of the Union; while such are the blessings of free schools that not one amongst us, excepting alone the native Tana, is without at least a common-school education. This group is typical of any other which might be gathered in this pioneer landit contains students of every color and tonguebut none of us are Alaska born. We are immigrants from distant states where schools of learning similar to that which we will erect on this spot gave us advantages which will be denied to our children, if we fail to establish them here.”
Are we too ambitious, too o’er-leaping, do you think, to attempt to carry this ancient torch of learning ” to the summit,” to the top of this spinning old world, and plant it there, Excelsior-like? Have we less cause than John Harvard had (and to men new-come from England I fancy that beginning appeared quite as crude in the light of Oxford or of Cam-bridge as our own of to-day) to keep faith with our wilderness of murmuring pine and of hemlock, our savannahs and our prairies, developing into somethingwe know not what, but something worth while? Have we ” our nerve” ? Well, if we have, so too had Pilgrim Fathers. They too believed whole-heartedly, not only in their adopted country but in themselves as pioneers. A pioneer has to be cock-sure, so don’t blame him for it. New lands mean new situations. Immediate need for immediate action arises and there is not a precedent in sight. Most precedents wouldn’t bear transplanting, anyway.
Those who lived back in old England blamed New England colonists for being too cock-sure, and Washington officials do the same with us. Don’t blame us for cock-sureness, for we need it mightily as an essential tool of our trail-breaking. And remember, too, how Stoughton wrote in the sixteen-seventies: ” God sifted a whole nation that He might send choice grain over into this wilderness.” Cock-sure? Rather. Yet Adams calls this ” but a mild expression of what the New Englander thoroughly believed, and loved to be told.”
You can’t keep people who are like that, down. They will make cracking-good ancestorsancestors to be proud of. Just give them a century or so of time!
But I must remind you of another meaning to Alaskan educationone which has not, I think, been touched on and which is yet a most powerful reagent. Teachers, priests, nurses, clergy, Jesuit Fathers, deaconesses, Friends, Lutherans, Sisters of the Catholic orders, Presbyterians, high and low church Episcopaliansall of whom I’ve met and known in numbers in The Northwill say in various ways when you talk intimately with them about the life here: ” We came to teach, but though we brought our best, the land has taught us more than we could give.” And my own observation has been that the keener the mind, the more trained the intellect, the quicker has been this stimulus and this response to a great teacher’s stiff discipline and humanistic curriculum. Those less keen of mind than these good teachers, perhaps because not equally trained to recognize instruction when they see it, have not equally given The North due credit as a school of men. But many do and have recognized in Alaska herself a great educator, caustic and admirably skilled.
The North grades her pupils as a miner grades his pay dirt: a twist of her wrist and new values appear, before unseen and unguessedthe flick of pure gold in blackest sands. In a pioneer life, as Scott wrote of the Antarctic: ” Every day some new fact comes to light, some new obstacle which threatens the gravest obstruction. I suppose this is the reason which makes the game so well worth playing.” Alaskan pioneers like frontier life for many of the same reasons for which sailors like ” dirty weather.” Alaska keeps you on your toes, keeps grading you, and is always propounding new and practical examination questions to test your fitness to remain. She keeps presenting constantly to your attention something chaotic, something adverse, which calls for action and provokes high spirit. Sudden turnings of the trail, events that come whirling at you out of space like stray disastrous comets and ” sudden the worst turns best,to the brave.”
Often the pioneer is called upon to pit his mettle, nerves and skill against the seemingly insuperable, and in that test to force the spirit to prevail against the material. If you can get any old Alaskan to open his heart to you, this is what he will tell you is the ultimate lure of the landthis spiritual value far above gold, which Service tried to phrase concretely in ” The Spell of the Yukon.” We have spoken to the earth and it has taught us, not of itself but of ourselves. Those who enjoy to the uttermost that inner stir of sharp action, twisting swift corner into unforeseen event (and only those who do are happy on the real frontier), find Alaska teaching, quite as much as she is being taught, and blessing those ” who are not born above instruction by surprise!”
There is a challenge in the frontier call to turn one’s hand and mind to many things. One learns here of necessity to do almost everything, one gets away from the specialized and dependent living of cities, and learns by doing and by self-teachingthe trial and error way of science. A man in the open plain, free to move in any direction, cannot rise. But give a strong man two walls, hemming him irrevocably before and behind, and he can climb to heaven by the very friction of his surroundings and the vigor of his own propulsive grip. A frontier provides those walls. One dearest of Alaskan friends wrote me, on her return to Ireland:
I have to keep constantly pinching myself, when talking to my old friends, to remember that they have not been in Alaska, so their sense of values has not undergone the complete change that mine has. I met an old friend on Sunday whom I had not seen for nineteen years. She said, ” Tell me, Jessie, what did you do when you first came out there? ” I could not answer her; I just looked blank and said, ” Well, I believe I have done everything it is possible for one woman to do. Just ask me if I have done any one thing, and I will tell you.” Really, Mary Lee, do you realize how full our lives were there, from cooking to washing, from teaching to conducting political meetings, from entertaining to keeping up the moral code? Talk of your missions! If we were not missionaries, I would like to know who was.
It is part of Nordland reality sometimes to live in the deep-most places of shared human experience, and to this richness Alaska is an open door. By living we learnby folk, work and placebut pioneer life intensifies and deepens the process and speeds it up. We are told by modern experts in education that the philosophy underlying all true education is this: That individuality should be respected, latent powers drawn out, and so a basis laid for satisfactory adjustments to life. Alaska is a great teacher, be-cause she does all these things for us. She keeps a progressive school for she encourages observation, stimulates thought, and teaches appropriate acting, by experience. While doing all this, her scholars are also storing up a world of interesting useful fact, as well. And we are all scholars, in her various classes, cheechakos in her kindergarten and sourdoughs and old-timers and pioneers in the upper grades digesting the great facts she teaches, learning to read the secrets of her spaces and her spawning silences, acquiring skill in answering the many problems of adjustment which she propounds. Crafts and accomplishments are to be studied here, there are arts to be learned and appreciated, joyful activities to be shared, as in any busy well-planned school: a school for quick minds only, for the rolling years pass quickly and the semesters run from equinox to solstice on swift feet.
You will find among the Alaska-educated plenty of people who lack tuition but are rich in intuition. You will find many who are well read in the book sense, as well as many others who read well the rivers, mountains, and the inner seas, who know the secrets of the passes and the trails to Nowhere and to Everywhere, and who have entered into the secrets of the frost. You ask if we have an Alaskan ” culture.” I ask, “What is your definition of culture?” The President of the University of Nebraska recently defined it in these words: ” Culture is the appreciation, not mainly contemplative but active and efficient, of the non-economic values. It is not identical with morality, but involves that. It covers enlightenment, breadth, open-mindedness, chivalry, honor, generosity, magnanimity, justice, gentleness, devotion to principle, the courage of one’s convictions, and the power to sustain.” By this test, as well as in the unexampled opportunities offered for the study of humanics, Alaska has truly a culture.
On a frontier one gets to know people more intimately and thoroughly than elsewhere, and this is in itself a rich treasure-house of educational value. One has the time and the opportunity to establish both strong friends and strong enemies, and the latter often teach us more than friends do, both of human nature and our own limitations! When an Alaskan speaks of ” My Alaskan education ” he is usually not referring to facts he has learned about the country, but facts he has learned about himself.
A friend wrote me one winter from the Outside: ” In that great white silence is the human soul shut in, or is the world shut out? ” Both, and both are proving ground of character. Most Alaskans have a horror of getting behind the rest of the world, so they refuse to let a mere geographic accident set limits to world contacts. We ourselves have sub-scribed to forty-seven magazines, and they became stimulating real friends to us, not merely periodicals. Of these, six were music and six were art journals, friends sent me all their concert and opera programs, and I had galleries send in their catalogs and notes. We have a musical library of a thousand classical records, and have frequently shared them with others who enjoy true music. I spent eight years here studying and teaching the history of musica thing I always wanted to do but never had an opportunity to do, before. It was a pleasant pastime, not a way to ” kill time “that horrid phrase! New York shopping services provided us up-to-date clothes, and books were ordered by the quantity, the lists based upon reliable magazine reviews. A cousin coming from New York to visit us exclaimed: ” Why, you are more `up’ on what is going on in New York than I am. I haven’t the time/”
That’s it your time is not forced into a fixed pat-tern, here, but you design your own pattern. Some people find this confusing, but most of us like it. In many things, on the frontier, you make your own rules as you go along. All the props of civilization are more loosely wedged, all the fences of convention are lower and more easily leaped, all the re-straining dicta of ” Society ” are of less effect. ” Never a law of God or man, runs North of fifty-three.” Men put pragmatic tests to institutions, and if they ” work well,” then they will be reestablished on the frontier. If not, then the frontier will have none of them. Morality is one of the first things put to test on the frontier, but men soon re-learn the expediency of morality, and it’s not long before a frontier community becomes as strictly moral as the best. For morality really works.
Coming back to the so-called centers of civilization and culture after years in the North, I was surprised to find that even in university towns most people seemed less truly educated, often, than had my less complex Alaskan friends. I noticed with real pain a sense of drifting, a lack of individual purpose in direction, in many people whom I met there. For the most part they seemed to be taking life at second-hand and to be dressed in mental cast-offs and hand-me-downs of thought, in scanty and inadequate emotions. They seemed to be living all their days under inverted commas! Only then did I realize the real privilege it has been to live in the Norththe deepest privilege that has ever come to me, the blessing of this eight-year seminar I had been taking at the feet of a great Instructressin the assurance of tested values which comes from life lived literally beyond the press of crowd-thrown barriers. The frontier always has developed individuals, and always will, so long as a frontier remains. As one wrote me recently from Ketchikan, “It is my belief that we live in Alaska the most interesting life possible to our world today.”
” The world stands out on either side, No wider than the heart is wide : Above the world is stretched the sky, No higher than the soul is high. But East and West will pinch the heart That cannot keep them pushed apart; And he whose soul is flatthe sky Will cave in on him, by and by.”
On the whole, life on the frontier is more difficult for a woman than for a man. I say it frankly, and I say it hesitatingly, but I believe it true. My own deep love for the North is not a blind love. I wear no bandage on my eyes to make me oblivious to the psychological hardships of the frontierwhich are more real to most women than are the physical hardships. Nor do I shut my eyes to many things in Alaskan life which are not lovely or of good repute, for there are many sucheven as in your own state or your own city; for Alaska is, after all, just an-other part of our human world. But many of these unlovely aspects have been too much stressed in words of other writers for me to need repeat them, even when I believe them. And, too, so many of the less pleasant features of Alaskan life are passing with new communications and intercoursenew lanes of commerce opening new lanes of thoughtthat I can see no need to call further attention to minor actors in our drama already taking their last curtain call.
I myself have learned most from Alaska’s people who, on the whole, assay decidedly to the good. We have our quota of the small-minded, the narrow and the close-mindedas what community has not?and a few of the evil-minded; but not many, if any, of these are among the old-timers who set the stamp and pace. Of the others, as Nora says: “Oh, sure, ’twill pass! Would there be nought but blessed saints in the far-away, we’d lose religion! It’s tricky men, it is, would kape us mindful of the Deadly Sins, and know the face of them!”
A woman, to be happy on the frontier, must be busy, and she must be good company when alone with herself. Content’ is a matter of content. “When thou journeyest out into the shadows,” the old Egyptian proverb says, “take not sweetmeats with thee but a seed of corn and a bottle of tears and wine, that thou mayest have a garden in the land whither thou goest.”
It seems to me that it is a necessary task of the pioneer woman, especially, to see in place and in a perspective the social and educational life of these communitiessmall and weak as yet and set precariously upon the dangling fringe of civilization. We need, even more than do the men of the community, to see all the material of our frontier life in the rousing terms of historical drama: the pageant of years and peoples and far places, the races of men as protagonists, the continents as a shifting yet continuing stage, the patient centuries as witnesses. Above all, we women need that vision of ourselves as vital agents in this world of great events; for days of disillusion and adjustment are bound to come, when a multitude of petty things drag and distort, as clinging barnacles warp course and cause leeway. But once let us regard all this in a large frame, focused to perspective, and then we shall not lose that feeling of the total picture, shall not know cringing or a loss because of petty happenings in any single day.
We cannot know the future, or foresee it, any more than early colonists in New England could have foreseen the actual development of the present British Empire or of the United States, ” the creation of each of which has been largely dependent upon economic forces and scientific inventions, largely beyond the vision of any seventeenth-century mind.
. The leaders of each of them,” writes Adams, ” must often have dreamed of what the future might have in store for the little colonies in which they had cast their lots, but it is impossible to say what those dreams may have been.”We Alaskans, too, are in our dreaming stage.
Yet this country is not a lotus-eaters’ paradise, to which we’ve come in entire forgetfulness or utter ignorance of America’s colonial past, which is our inheritance equally with you. We remember and we look forward. We are not pioneering in a trance. That might work elsewhere, but conditions here make such a course mean deathnot to move for-ward, not to have a sense of true or at least relative direction. We try to use any tradition which we possess to enlighten, sharpen and focus the life that we see, and we need all our best knowledge to ex-plain and amplify our basic and enthusiastic structural faith. Alaska herself has taught us, both of her resources and our own :
” We men of earth have here the stuff Of Paradisewe have enough ! We need no other stones to build The stairs into the Unfulfilled No other ivory for the doors, No other marble for the floors No other cedar for the beam And dome of man’s immortal dream.”