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Code of the North

The residents of Alaska lived by a code of conduct that served us well prior to the Second World War. After the War a lot of outsiders came to Fairbanks, especially during the cold war years through military expansion. Pioneer, Joe Ulmer, felt the new arrivals needed a reminder of what was considered proper conduct for anyone living or traveling within Alaska:

Pioneer- All Alaska Weekly, July 24, 1970

Code of the North

By Joseph Ulmer, E. M.
Past Grand President Pioneers of Alaska

  • Take a drink with a friend or friends when you have a chance.
  • When using a man’s cabin and before leaving, wash the dishes, leave shavings and kindling and as much wood cut as you used. Also close the door of the cabin. If barricaded against bears, put the barricade back.
  • Never ask a man what religion he is, for the great outdoors is his place of worship.
  • Never speak of women disrespectfully, we all had mothers.
  • Always give a fellow a lift if the going is tough.
  • Don’t abuse a dog, he is the best friend you have on the trail; be kind to dumb animals, they remember you.
  • Don’t kill any game wantonly; only what you have to kill for your need, or for someone who is out of meat.
  • Call the Musher in and offer him a mug-up, or feed, and if he is tired give him a shakedown. (Old gold rush trail lingo for a cup of coffee, meal and place to sleep.)
  • Don’t waste any ammunition by shooting at targets; the last cartridge may save your life.
  • Keep your matches and foot gear dry on the trail and never drink whisky or other spirits on the trail; it may be fatal to you.
  • Don’t wander around when the fog comes in, and you can’t see where you are going; wait till it clears up.
  • Don’t leave any lights or candles burning or heavy fire in the stove when going away from the cabin.
  • Don’t set fire to the woods. It will destroy the wildlife and game.
  • Parboil your bacon before frying; it will not cause you so much rheumatism; also be sanitary about the camp so not to pollute the water and atmosphere.
  • Don’t tell the other fellow your troubles, especially love or matrimonial affairs, he may have a lot of his own.
  • Keep off the other fellow’s trapline, both literally and categorically speaking.

Note: Joseph Ulmer was a longtime member of the Pioneers, who was well known all over Alaska. It is interesting that on the same page this Code of the North was published, there was another article about the invasion of “hippies” into Fairbanks who did not work, lived on food stamps, and took advantage of any freebee they could get their hands on.

The article complained that local businesses could no longer offer free events, especially those that had free food, because about 170 “hippies” would stampede in and eat it all, while complaining loudly if it ran out before they were full, leaving nothing for the “real” residents of the city.

This “Code of the North” History Nugget was proudly brought to you by Men’s Igloo No. 4 and Women’s Igloo No. 8 of the Pioneers of Alaska.

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