Sandy Brue

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Born into a well-known and influential New England family, Frank Lowell left his home in Maine and moved to Alaska soon after the territory was purchased by the United States in 1867. His upbringing in a shipbuilding and seafaring family from Maine prepared Frank well for his new life. His life in sparsely-settled Alaska was quite different, though, from his old life in coastal Maine. During his more than fifty years in Alaska, Frank married three Native women and fathered fifteen children. There were practical reasons for Frank to form such unions, but it also demonstrates that racial boundaries were much more fluid in frontier Alaska than in much of the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The author is a retired National Park Service employee. During her career she worked in six park units across the country, including Kenai Fjords National Park in Seward, Alaska. In 2006, she completed a master’s degree in history at Alaska Pacific University, under the direction of Polly Welts Kaufman. This article is extracted from her master’s thesis, which examined the role of Alaskan Native women during the northwestern fur trade period.