At its annual statewide convention in Soldotna on Saturday, the organization voted 181-55 to allow women to hold leadership roles. "It's just one of those things that had to be," former grand president Ozzie Osborne told the Clarion. "In this modern day and age, women got just as much the right as men do, and they're pretty much the back bone behind all the men anyway."
Pioneers of Alaska has about 5,000 members, currently, and all members are required to have a minimum 30-year state residence. Osborne told the Clarion that there are probably more women members than men.
Not everyone thought the change was necessary. Fred Walatka, 77, told the Clarion, "If something's not broken, why fix it?" but added it was "a step in the right direction."
The organization was formed in 1907 in Nome. Its goal is to "preserve the names of all of Alaska's pioneers on its rolls; to collect and preserve the literature and incidents of Alaska's history, and to promote the best interests of Alaska" according to its website.
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