Alaska: Another 48 Years

Just two years ago, Alaska celebrated 50 years of statehood. Just recently, I realized how amazing it would be for me to witness the celebration of Alaska statehood at 100 years - and chances are, I will. I'd only have to make 67 years old, and if my parents live to 98 and 100 (through some amazing future medical breakthroughs?) they could see it too.

Alaska has an incredibly interesting history, one perpetually characterized by a great deal of diversity, something that might well be seen to stem from this land's extreme physical size and geographic variation. In the future, however, I believe the state will see increasing amounts of integration and unity between its peoples and regions. As much as I feel strongly connected to my own unique experience of Alaska, trends of movement and greater connectivity will likely lead to a falling away of such parochial attachments as mine. (I love Southeast Alaska, but not really the rest of the state.)

Accompanying this, it should be considered how Alaska's demography will continue to change. Population in the state as a whole is growing rapidly, but that of some regions is decreasing. In addition, it will be interesting to see who continues coming to the state, and what population groups will grow the most. New communities will undoubtedly form, and older ones may decline.

I look forward to seeing the changes another 50 years will bring to Alaska politics as well. One questions whether the oil money that has sustained the state for so many decades can continue to provide enough revenue for development, and perhaps even more important is the question of what new industries might arise here. What lies in the future for Alaska Native communities? further integration, a strengthened sense of separate identities, or something else entirely? Particularly important is how Alaska's relationship with the Federal Government will evolve - a relationship that has played a significant role in Alaska history since 1867.

I don't even know if my life is going to lead me to stay in Alaska, but I do know I'll continue to watch as the Great Land changes with the years. There have already been 52 years of statehood, each one filled with successes, failures and plenty of surprises. The next 48 will likely have even more.