Sadie Neakok

Sadie Neakok

Alaska Territorial Magistrate and Civil Rights Activist

Sadie Neakok (1916-2004) was born in Utqiaġvik, Alaska in 1916. Her father, Charles D. Brower, arrived in Utqiaġvik as a commercial whaler, where he met Sadie’s mother, Ahsiangatok (Asiaŋŋataq). One of 10 children, Sadie grew up in a multicultural household. She went to boarding school in San Francisco for high school before moving back to Alaska to attend the University of Alaska.

When Sadie returned home, she used her Western education to help advocate for the rights of her people. She started off working in social work and education before becoming a magistrate in Alaska's Second District when the Alaska territory became a state 1959. While in her position, Sadie presented in court in both English and Iñupiaq languages and advocated for defendants to participate in court even if they did not understand English. Fighting against discrimination and supporting fair hunting, subsistence, and game regulations were just a few of the issues she championed.

When asked in 1983 what the best part of her work was, she replied, “gaining the respect of my people.” In 2009, Sadie was inducted into the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame. In her Hall of Fame profile, Sadie remarked on the advice she gave to all women no matter where they lived: get involved in your community and work to make it a better place. Sadie passed away in 2004, leaving her legacy as a mother, educator, and advocate.

Did you know Sadie and have a story you’d like to share about her? We’d love to know more about her and about the powerful women in your life. Share your images and stories with us on Instagram and Facebook by tagging us (@anchoragemuseum and #ExtraToughWomenAK) and we’ll add them to our ongoing digital curation project. Stay tuned for new posts and in the meantime, be sure to check out the exhibition, now open!

Photo credit: Anchorage Museum, Fran Durner Collection, B2016.4.12.6Sa

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