JUL 1974 Press Release

Who Is Eben Hopson?

When North Slope borough Mayor Eben Hopson announced his candidacy for Democratic nomination for the Office of Governor at the State Democratic Party Convention in May, Alaskans from around the State, recognizing the name at least, asked themselves, “Who is Eben Hopson?” The thousands of Alaskans who have known Eben for years are watching in fascination as he is challenging his old friend and political associate, Bill Egan, for their party’s nomination in the primary election on August 17. Like Egan, Hopson goes way back in Alaska’s political history. Yet, because he is a quiet man, he has not become a household word as have other old-time Alaskan political leaders.

Eben Hopson is an Inupiat Eskimo born in Barrow on November 7, 1922. Barrow, remote now in the day of jet travel in Alaska, was very far away then, reachable by steamship in the summer only, on the Northern-most tip of Alaska’s Arctic coast. When he was a boy he dreamed of boarding a ship to go away to high school, but that was never to happen because Barrow’s White community, less than half a dozen, thought that Eben was too “uppity” and wouldn’t let him go away to school at the Eklutna BIA high school, now in crumbling ruins near the village of Eklutna on the Glenn Highway at the edge of the Greater Anchorage Borough. And so he finished the eighth grade in Barrow, and lived a traditional Eskimo life, hunting the whale and caribou. He never returned to school.

All Alaska quivered in fear and anticipation when the Japanese invaded the Aleutians in World War II. Eben married Rebecca Panigeo before being drafted into the Army in 1943. He was sent to Nome. Rebecca bore their first-born son while Eben was away, and young Charles didn’t meet his father until Eben returned from the War in 1947. Eben and Rebecca have twelve children today.