If they were to become a state, Alaska wanted to be ready. Over 30 years before the territory officially became one of the 50 states, it decided it needed a flag. They decided to go to the ultimate source of creativity - children. The Juneau Flag Committee was formed, and they created a contest to find a design.
In January 1927, the contest was announced. First, each town would have a panel of judges select ten contest entries to send to Juneau. 142 entries overall were sent on to the Flag Committee. Most of the entries were rejected because they focused on only one part of the Alaskan territory. For example, there were a number of designs that featured Polar Bears or represented the fishing industry.
The contest winner was seventh grade John Bell Benson from Chignik. When he won, he was living in an orphanage. His design was a blue background - to represent the sky and the Forget-Me-Not flower. Eight gold stars represent the Big Dipper and strength. One separate gold star represents the North Star and Alaska's future as the most northerly state in the union.
John received first prize and a gold watch engraved with his flag design. The design was accepted by the Alaska Territorial Legislature in May 1927 and became the official state flag when Alaska became a state in 1959.