In 1867, Russia sold Alaska to the United States, and for nearly fifty years the region was known as the District of Alaska. While Alaska was still a district, the first governor designated a Seal of Alaska district. This State Seal of Alaska featured icebergs, northern lights, igloos, and an Eskimo ice fishing.
When Congress provided for a civil government for Alaska in 1884, the first governor designed, and had made, a seal for the District of Alaska. The seal was used until 1910 when Governor Walter E. Clark decided the design placed too much emphasis on icebergs, northern lights and Native people. The governor had a draftsman in Juneau sketch a new seal that incorporated the original features, plus symbols for mining, agriculture, fisheries, fur seal rookeries, and a railroad.
In 1910, this Seal was replaced with a design by an “unknown designer” more representative of the District’s industrial and natural wealth. This Seal was retained through Alaska’s territorial days and by the adoption of Alaska’s constitution in 1956 became the State Seal when Alaska joined the Union on January 3, 1959. The rays above the mountains represent the famous Alaskan northern lights, also known as aurora borealis.
The smelter symbolizes mining, the train stands for Alaska’s rail transportation, and ships denote marine transportation. The trees symbolize Alaska’s wealth of timber and other forest products, and the farmer, his horse, and the three shocks of wheat portray Alaska’s agriculture.
The fish and seals signify the importance of seafood to Alaska’s economy. Although road and air transportation, oil and gas, and tourism have developed considerably since the Seal was designed in 1910, Alaska State Seal still represents the vast wealth, economy and incredible natural setting of the forty-ninth State.
This Seal of Alaska was retained through Alaska’s territorial days and by the adoption of Alaska’s constitution in 1956 became the State Seal when Alaska joined the Union on January 3, 1959. The Constitution of the State of Alaska provides that the territorial seal shall be the seal for the State of Alaska, with the word “territory” changed to that of “state.”
The seal is 2 1/8 inches in diameter. The seal of the State of Alaska may be used only with the permission of the Lt. Governor.