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Key Questions

These questions are meant to guide Alaskans into informed discussion about Walter J. Hickel and the ideas for which he stood.  The questions on the top of this page are derived directly from the documentary, while those farther down are broader, but still tie to the ideas presented in it...

  • Did Secretary Hickel do the right thing when he wrote a letter to President Nixon imploring him to listen to young America's concerns about Vietnam?  Why, or why not?
  • Given that he was Secretary of the Interior and not Secretary of State or Defense, was it his place to raise this issue?
  • Was he justified in leaking this letter to the media?
  • Why do you think he denied that he leaked the letter during his interview with Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes?
  • Wally pioneered the concept of Alaska as an Owner State.  Does the Owner State mean that we live in a socialist or communist state?
  • Why do you think that ownership was so important to Wally Hickel?
  • Hickel was a strong proponent of the idea of "the commons."  He believed that some forms of wealth belong to all of us and that community resources must be actively protected and managed for the good of all.  Name some examples of commons.  What do you think of this concept?
  • Wally believed that Big Projects are a good alternative to war.  Name the big projects he dreamed of.  Do any of these make sense for this generation?
  • Why do you think that he always looked at the globe from the top?
  • What was he saying by defining the environment as "people, people's needs and nature"?
  • Wally Hickel was unafraid to "speak truth to power".  Fighting for Alaska, he met in the Oval Office with every President since FDR, except Kennedy and Obama?  Why do you think he was so free from fear?
  • In 1973, Hickel wrote an article for the Readers Digest called, "The Day of the Arctic has Come".  What events in the last few years illustrate the importance of Wally's title?
  • What do you think are the enduring understandings that young people should take away from the life, actions and vision of Walter J. Hickel?

To share your thoughts with others on some of these topics, visit the Alaska Council for the Social Studies Discussion Forum area dedicated to this topic...