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  • Writer's pictureVesa Oja

Beth Kerttula Juneau 2009

8th Finglish trip May 2009 #8

Elizabeth "Beth" Kerttula is a Democratic member of the Alaska House of Representatives. She is the daughter of Joyce and state senator Jalmar M. Kerttula. Her father represented the Matanuska-Susitna Valley (and at one point, also the Copper River valley and Valdez) in the Alaska legislature for most of the period between 1961 and 1995 and served as the Senate President.

Her father Jalmar Kerttula, commonly known as "Jay," was born in Milwaukee, Illinois in 1928, the son of Finnish immigrants. In 1935 the family relocated to the Matanuska Valley Colony, a New Deal agricultural resettlement program, located Northeast of Anchorage.

The Matanuska Colony was part of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal plan to help move the United States out of the Great Depression. Roosevet´s Administration created an experimental farming community as part of the New Deal resettlement plan.

Situated in the Matanuska Valley, about 45 miles northeast of Anchorage, Alaska, the colony was settled by 203 families from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. By 1965, only 20 of the first families were still farming the valley.

Even though Beth´s grandmother Elvi spoke only Finnish, in fear of discrimination she denied Beth from learning Finnish which she regrets.

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