• Join us in the Commemoration of an Alaskan & American Icon

    The Walter Harper Project

    Help us build a life size bronze statue to commemorate Walter Harper, the first person to reach the summit of Denali.

  • About Us:

    The Walter Harper Project

    Alaskans representing the Walter Harper Project have launched a drive that will culminate in a life-size bronze statue of Walter Harper, the first person to summit Denali. The statue will be placed in Fairbanks, where the 1913 expedition began. Episcopal Archdeacon Hudson Stuck and the rugged outdoorsman Harry Karstens co-led the expedition. The Koyukon-Athabascan Harper, along with Tennessean Robert Tatum, completed the four-member ascent team. Athabascan youths John Fredson and Esaias George provided vital support, including transporting supplies and equipment to the base camp. Fredson manned the basecamp while the ascent team members scaled the mountain.

     

    The Walter Harper Project will recognize Harper’s critical role in the pioneer ascent team’s success, which was long unrecognized. Harper’s expert subsistence skills, superb athlete condition, courage, and cheerfulness moved the team forward under the most trying conditions. On summit day, Harper, the team member in the best condition, took the lead position and thus reached the peak first.

     

    For several years, Harper served as Archdeacon Stuck’s trail guide, riverboat pilot, interpreter, and right hand man, as they traveled among the Episcopal missions, Native communities, and mining camps of Alaska’s northern Interior. Wherever they stopped, Harper’s subsistence skillset, integrity, magnetic personality, and ability to navigate in both his Athabascan culture and in mainstream American society won him admirers. He planned to become a medical missionary to Interior Alaska Natives. Tragically, when he was just 25 years old, he and his wife of seven weeks, Frances Wells Harper, drowned in the 1918 sinking of the Princess Sophia.

     

    Walter Harper Day

     

     

    On Sunday, June 7, 2020 Alaska celebrated the first annual

     Walter Harper Day, in recognition of the Irish-Athabascan man who on June 7, 1913 was the first person to stand atop Denali, North America’s tallest mountain and the dominant landmark of Alaska’s Interior, Harper’s homeland. Fairbanks Senator Click Bishop introduced Senate Bill 144 “An Act establishing June 7 of each year as Walter Harper Day.” Alaska’s Senate and House of Representatives both passed the bill unanimously, and Governor Dunleavey signed the bill on April 29. The act recognizes not only Harper’s critical role in the success of the pioneer summit of Denali, but his “superb subsistence skills, his integrity, his strong sense of identity and purpose, and his ability to navigate comfortably in both the Athabascan culture and other cultures of the United States.”

  • Donate directly at :

    Fairbanks Native Association (FNA)

    3830 Cushman Street Suite 100

    Fairbanks, AK 99701

    Attn: Duane Hoskins

    (Make the check payable to “FNA / Walter Harper Project”)

    (907)452-1648

     

    Or

    Donate Online at GoFundMe.org

     

    Be Part of the Project

  • Funding Information

    Together we will reach our summit.

    $5,957

    Funds Raised of $100,000 Goal

    $2,237

    Donations from Individuals

    $3,720

    Donations from GoFundMe

    $0

    Donations from Gold Supporters

    $0

    Donations from Corporate Donors

  • Donors

    Thank you to all who have supported the Walter Harper Project so far. Give now to join the efforts of these supporters.

    Thank You!

    Al & Ann Renfroe

    Diane Holmstrom

    Gary & Susan Wilken

    Ronald & Nancy Whitten

    Linda S. Belarde

    Ronald Inouye

    Katie McCaffrey

    Angela Schmidt

    Jan Harper (Petri) Haines

    Margaret Asbury

    Jeanne Ostnes

    Michael Carey

    Bill Gordon

    Johanna Harper

    Jimmy Vining

    Stephanie Rivet

    Darlene Bishop

    Amy Russell-Jamgochian

    Mary and Lars Ehrlander

    Dan Bishop

    Steven Haagenson

    Angela Linn

    Catherine Call

    Karen Lopez

    Kathy Cline

    Tim Cline

    Michael Harper

    Karen Perdue

    David Tilman

    Jane Harper

    Names will be updated periodically

    Please let us know if you have donated but your name does not appear here.

  • Download Now!

    Alaskan Singer & Songwriter Ben Balivet created this song to commemorate Walter Harper and support the Walter Harper Project.

  • Artist

    To Be Determined

    Searching for an Artist

    Interested

    The Walter Harper Project Team is currently finalizing the Request for Qualifications. For more information please contact us below.

  • Walter Harper Project Team Members

    Michael Harper

    Anchorage, AK

    Relative of Walter Harper

    Bill Gordon

    Fairbanks, AK

    Life Long Alaskan; Former Staff Assistant to Governor Jay Hammond

    Mary Ehrlander

    Fairbanks, AK

    Author of Walter Harper, Alaska Native Son; UAF Professor of History

    Darlene Bishop

    Fairbanks, AK

    Retired teacher, Doyon, Ltd. shareholder

    Tanya Kaquatosh

    Fairbanks, AK

    Sr. VP of Administration- Doyon, Limited

    Angela J. Linn

    Fairbanks, AK

    Senior Collections Manager, UA Museum of the North

    email the team

    Email the team directly to learn more!

  • Updates

    Keeping you informed on what is new and happening with the Walter Harper Project.

    Fairbanks Native Association

    501 C 3 Partnership

    September 30,2019

    We are excited to announce our partnership with the Fairbanks Native Association.

    Walter HArper Day

    Alaska Senator Click Bishop

    October 2, 2019

    Senator Click Bishop and staff are working with the Walter Harper Project to have a state day of recognition on June 7th for Walter Harper and the expedition.

    official project announcement

    Watch the News

    October 22, 2019

    Mary Ehrlander and Marcus Sanders are out spreading the news of the Walter Harper Project.

    State of Alaska Legislative Session 2020

    Walter Harper Day

    January 21, 2020

    A special thanks to Senator Click Bishop and Darwin Peterson for putting together the legislation to create a Walter Harper Day.

    The Cordova Times Article

    Walter Harper Day News

    Walter Harper Day PASSES HOUSE & Senate!!!

    Walter Harper Day Approved!

    March 4, 2020

    The State of Alaska House of Representatives passed SB144 creating Walter Harper Day. The bill now awaits the Governor Dunleavy's signature.

    Walter harper day official!

    Governor Signs Bill

    April 29, 2020

    Governor Dunleavy signed SB144 into law, officially designating June 7 as Walter Harper Day.

    Doyon Plaza as site of sculpture

    Walter Harper Statue to be Placed at Doyon Headquarters

    July 24, 2020

    Doyon, Limited announced that when completed, the Walter Harper statue will be housed outside of the Doyon Plaza in downtown Fairbanks. Thank you to the Doyon board of directors who approved this request.

    First Alaskans Institute supports project

    Elders and Youth Conference Pass Resolution of Support

    October 14, 2020

    The 2020 Elders and Youth Conference of the First Alaskans Institute passed a resolution of support for the Walter Harper Project. See the full resolution here.

    Much More to Come!!!

  • Visit WHP on Facebook

    Learn more about the man behind the project through our Facebook page

    Facebook