Elizabeth Peratrovich is considered a civil rights icon by Alaska Natives. The Petersburg native led the fight to create the state's anti-discrimination law in 1945. Soon, the rest of the nation can learn about her.

A representative of the U.S. Mint joined others Saturday at Alaska Pacific University's Atwood Center as they unveiled the new $1 coin at a ceremony that took place during the Alaska Native Brothers and Alaska Native Sisters Convention.

"This is a game changer. Elizabeth is still a game changer. This is really, really a good day," said ANS Grand President Paulette Moreno.

Peratrovich is the first Alaska Native to be on U.S. currency.

"The coin will be a lasting tribue to Elizabeth Peratrovich to tear down the wall of discrimination against Alaska Natives," said U.S. Mint Chief Administrative Officer Patrick Hernandez. "Perhaps Elizabeth was like the raven, crying out until the darkness of discrimination was dispelled."

The new coins will be available next year. Peratrovich passed away in 1958.

Meanwhile, Gov. Mike Dunleavy put pen to paper earlier in the day at the convention, as he signed House Bill 126 to formally establish November as Alaska Native Heritage Month.

"The history of Alaska's native peoples is the history of Alaska," Gov. Dunleavy said. "Without it, Alaska's history is not complete. Eleven distinct cultures encompass every part of this great state."

Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson of Anchorage and Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky of Bethel were among those on hand for the ceremony. The House passed the bill with a 36-to-1 vote, while the Senate passed the bill unanimously.

 

Correction: This story has been edited to correct a typo.

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