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Alaska has had two state seals, both designed many years before it became a state in 1959. They were both designed while Alaska was still a territory, officially known as the District of Alaska. The initial seal’s design featured Alaska’s native people, the Inuit, and their igloo homes, and the territory’s natural beauty through depictions of the northern lights and icebergs. The seal that remains the state’s official symbol today was crafted in 1910. Like its predecessor, it also depicts Alaska’s natural beauty, but it also concentrates heavily on the state’s wealth of natural resources, such as timber and minerals, and its industrial strengths.
The seal is shaped like a circle, and situated within the circle’s outer rim are the words “The Seal of the State of Alaska.” Also shown in this outer rim are a fish and a seal, which stand for Alaska’s wealth of seafood, an important factor in the state’s economy. In the center of the circle is an engraving of symbols that were chosen to represent the region on the state seal of Alaska. There are numerous straight lines arranged in a fan shape, for example, emerging from behind a mountain peak and representing the aurora borealis, or northern lights. Also depicted are ships on a wide river and a train on its tracks to represent the importance of transportation, trees and a mining smelter. There is also a farmer engaged in plowing.
The state seal of Alaska, although designed more than half a century before the territory became a state, still represents Alaska’s great wealth and natural beauty in the selected symbolism of trees, icebergs and the northern lights. It has not, however, changed to reflect the addition of several modern industries that today reside in the state and help drive Alaska's economy. Among the modern industries in Alaska are air transportation and the mining of bountiful oil and gas reserves.
Legislation prohibits the use of the state seal of Alaska without official permission. The lieutenant governor has the power to grant permission for its use. Without such permission, it is prohibited to use the state seal of Alaska for any commercial reason. Anyone who does so without official permission can be fined up to $500 US Dollars (USD).