The Pioneers of Alaska
was an early Alaskan lodge, sort of a club. Only men who had arrived in Alaska
before January 1, 1900 could join. It and two other lodges were formed in 1907. In 1908, the merged into one grand lodge known as the Grand Igloo
The first constitution of the Grand Igloo, adopted in Nome in 1908, said “The official flower of the Pioneers of Alaska shall be the Alaska For-get-me-not.” In 1912, the spelling was changed to “Forget-me-not.”
Five years later, women formed “Auxiliaries” to the Grand Igloo. They immediately adopted the forget-me-not as their unofficial emblem. The tiny blue flower with the yellow center had clearly captured Alaskans’ hearts.
Later, members of the Grand Igloo decided the forget-me-not would make a fine symbol of the Territory of Alaska. The bill to adopt the forget-me-not included a poem written by Esther Birdsall Darling:
So in thinking for an emblem
For this Empire of the North
We will choose this azure flower
That the golden days bring forth,
For we want men to remember
That Alaska came to stay
Though she slept unknown for ages
And awakened in a day.
So although they say we’re living
In the land that God forgot,
We’ll recall Alaska to them
With our blue Forget-me-not.
Another poem was written in the margins of the bill:
A little flower blossoms forth
On every hill and dale,
The emblem of the Pioneers
Upon the rugged trail;
The Pioneers have asked it
And we could deny them not;
So the emblem of Alaska
Is the blue Forget-me-not.
The Governor signed the bill into law April 28, 1917. Ten years later, the forget-me-not received yet another honor when Alaska’s flag was adopted. The designer said the blue field, or background, represents Alaska’s skies and the forget-me-not.
When Alaska became a state, it kept the forget-me-not as its official state flower.
The forget-me-not is a member of the borage family (Boraginaceae). In summer, its delicate blossoms add color to Alaska’s hills and valleys.