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Elizabeth Peratrovich, February 1945

March 22, 2017

I would not have expected that I, who am barely out of savagery, would have to remind gentlemen with 5,000 years of recorded civilization behind them of our bill of rights. 

When my husband and I moved to Juneau, we sought a home in a nice neighborhood where our children could play happily with our neighbors' children, and we found such a house and had arranged to lease it. But when the owners learned that we were Indian, they said, "no."
 

Would we be compelled to live in the slums? Even now there are doors to schools closed to our children and signs that make it quite clear that I, as well as dogs, are not allowed in certain establishments, and many of the hotels and restaurants turn us away. Well, discrimination occurs in many ways, let me assure you. 

There are three kinds of persons who practice discrimination. First, the politician who likes to maintain an inferior minority group so that he can always promise them something. Second, well, the Mr. and Mrs. Jones who aren't quite sure of their social position, and so are kind to you on one occasion and can't see you on the  next, depending on who they are with. Third, the great "superman" who believes in the superiority of the white race. 

 

Well, it is this kind of perpetuated thought that serves to segregate and discriminate. And an answer to Senator Shattuck's earlier question, "do we  believe that the passage of this bill will eliminate discrimination?" Well, have you eliminated larceny or murder by passing a law against it?

 

No law will eliminate crime, but at least you, as legislators, can assert to the world that you recognize the evil of this present situation, and speak your intent to help us overcome discrimination for all Alaskans. 

 

 

 

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