ALUTIIQ BENNY BENSON BORN–DESIGNED ALASKAN FLAG
Born in Chignik, Alaska, his Alutiiq-Russian mother died when he was 3. His father sent his children to orphanages: His sister to Oregon; Benny & his brother to Unalaska. In 1926, Territorial Governor Parks, pushing for statehood, had the Alaska American Legion hold a contest open to Alaskan children grades 7-12 to design a flag. Benson, a 7th-grader, won unanimously. His design—the Big Dipper’s 8 stars on a blue field for the sky, and a Forget-me-not flower—was flown first on July 9, 1927. Benny won a watch with the flag emblem & a $1,000 scholarship. Graduating high school in 1932, he worked in the Aleutians with his father on a fox farm. Moving to Seattle in 1936, he used his scholarship to learn diesel engine repair. In 1950, after a divorce, he and his 2 daughters moved to Kodiak where he became an airplane mechanic. Benny died in 1972, in Kodiak, Alaska. Mount Benson, outside of Seward is named for him. The 2nd Monday of October is celebrated by the Alutiiq as “Benny Benson Day.”
Source: “Benny Benson,” UA Journey, University of Alaska. Retrieved 7/23/2020, https://www.alaska.edu/uajourney/notable-people/kodiak/benny-benson/ Photo: Author unknown, 1926. Source: https://vilda.alaska.edu/digital/collection/cdmg21/id/1665. Courtesy of Alaska State Library Photograph Collection, Image No. ASL-P01-1921.