WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Dignitaries and visitors from Alaska gathered for a celebration at the National Press Club in Washington Thursday exactly 150 years after Secretary of State William Seward and the Russian minister signed the Treaty of Cession.
“It’s because of Alaska that we are an arctic nation," said Alaska's First Lady, Donna Walker.
Walker helped to kick off a seven-month-long commemoration in our nation's capital after Gov. Bill Walker proclaimed 2017 a “Year of History and Heritage.”
“The governor has asked all Alaskans to reflect upon our history and heritage...and build a more inclusive and brighter future for our children," said Donna Walker.
Planning for the sesquicentennial began three years ago.
Wayne Jensen of the Alaska Historical Commission said, “One of the events going on right now is the famous Emanuel Leutze painting of the Treaty of Cession is now on loan to Alaska and it’s being displayed in Anchorage.”
The state also commissioned a sculpture of Seward that will stand across from the capital building in Juneau. David Rubin and his sister Judy are the artists.
“There’s never been a sculpture of Seward in the state capital of Alaska," explained David Rubin.
“It’s incredible. It’s huge, important, exciting, moving, and all those things," said Judy Rubin.
The Rubins’ statue of Seward will be unveiled July 3rd in Juneau. Anniversary celebrations culminate on Alaska Day in Sitka.