The one song every Alaskan knows

08/10/2017 Back To Blog Sun shining behind the Alaska state flag

If you’re visiting Alaska, there’s a good chance you might hear at least one reference to “eight stars of gold” during your stay. There’s an even better chance that you’ll see those eight stars of gold on the Alaska state flag at a gift shop or on display anywhere in the state. So, it’s best to include a little bit of state flag history along with all of the other essentials you’ll need during your Alaska getaway, and the perfect starting point is learning Alaska’s theme song.
The “Alaska Flag Song” has two verses but most Alaskans only know the first verse by heart:

Eight stars of gold on a field of blue,
Alaska’s flag, may it mean to you,
The blue of the sea, the evening sky,
The mountain lakes and the flowers nearby,
The gold of the early sourdough’s dreams,
The precious gold of the hills and streams,
The brilliant stars in the northern sky,
The “Bear,” the “Dipper,” and shining high,
The great North Star with its steady light,
O’er land and sea a beacon bright,
Alaska’s flag to Alaskans dear,
The simple flag of a last frontier.

Marie Drake, a longtime employee of Alaska’s Territorial Department of Education, wrote the poem that would eventually turn into the lyrics for the “Alaska Flag Song.” Drake served as the secretary to Alaska’s first commissioner of education for many years, eventually assuming the role of assistant commissioner of education. Drake was inspired to write the poem after hearing 13-year-old Benny Benson, the flag’s designer, describe why he chose the flag’s simple design. Drake’s poem first appeared on the cover of the School Bulletin, titled “Alaska’s Flag,” in October 1935. The poem was soon set to music composed by Elinor Dusenbury, a Haines musician. And in 1955, the Territorial Legislature adopted it as Alaska’s official song.

The lyrics describe the Alaska state flag and what the “eight stars of gold on a field of blue” represent— from the blue of the sea to the mountain lakes and the stars in the northern sky. It’s no wonder the “Alaska Flag Song” is still an essential part of the curriculum for Alaska history classes today. The song beautifully describes Alaska’s natural wonders and her pioneering spirit.

Now that you have the full story behind the song, take a listen for yourself and start practicing!

Posted in: Alaska & the Yukon