Joe Vogler

Joe Vogler

Joe Vogler (1913-1993) was the founder of the Alaskan Independence Party and active in politics, regularly running for public office in Alaska for many years.

Early life

Vogler was born April 24, 1913, on a farm outside Barnes, Kansas. He attended the University of Kansas on a scholarship in 1929. He graduated with a law degree in five years and was admitted to the Kansas State Bar. Vogler moved to Alaska in 1942 and worked for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Ladd Field (now Fort Wainwright) in Fairbanks until 1951 when he began mining on Homestake Creek. He filed for 80 acres of homestead land off the Steese Highway and acquired 320 acres near Fairbanks off Farmers Loop Road, but did not farm. Vogler spent fifty years as a miner and developer in Alaska. He was noted for an antipathy toward aspens, and the term "Voglerizer" for highway brush trimmers has come into the informal vernacular around the Fairbanks area.

Political career

Vogler arose as a political figure in 1973, where he began a petition calling for secession of Alaska from the United States. "Alaska magazine" reported that Vogler claimed to have gathered 25,000 signatures over a period of three weeks.

During the 1970s, Vogler founded the Alaskan Independence Party (AIP) and Alaskans For Independence. He also claimed to have organized the meeting which led to the formation of the Libertarian Party in Alaska. The AIP and AFI, as Vogler explained, were intended to function as strictly separate entities — AIP primarily to explore whether the 1956 vote by Alaskans authorizing statehood was legal, and AFI primarily to actively pursue secession for Alaska from the United States.

The Alaskan Independence Party quotes Vogler as stating "I'm an Alaskan, not an American. I've got no use for America or her damned institutions." [cite news| url =| title = Curiouser and Curiouser| work = CBS News| date =2008-09-02| accessdate = 2008-09-12] [ [ Introduction] , Alaskan Independence Party.]

In a 1991 interview currently housed at the Oral History Program in the Rasmuson Library at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Vogler is recorded as saying "The fires of hell are frozen glaciers compared to my hatred for the American government. And I won't be buried under their damn flag. I'll be buried in Dawson. And when Alaska is an independent nation they can bring my bones home." [ ]

Vogler would serve as the AIP's standard-bearer for most of the party's first two decades. He ran for governor in 1974, with Wayne Peppler as his running mate. Jay Hammond was elected over incumbent governor William Egan, with Vogler trailing far behind. Many commentators described Vogler as a "spoiler" in the election, arguing that the result would have been different had he not been in the race. However, this campaign opened up the doors for non-major party candidates to run for major offices in Alaska, and generally this accusation is leveled during every election cycle.

Vogler switched to run for lieutenant governor in 1978, with Don Wright running for governor. Wright was also the AIP's nominee for governor in 2002. The 1978 campaign for governor was dominated by the extremely controversial Republican primary race between moderate Hammond and Walter Hickel. Hammond was reelected governor. There was also an independent candidate in the race, Tom Kelly, who was a cabinet member under Gov. Keith Miller (1969-1970). There was little hope for the AIP ticket to gain much attention due to these factors.

Vogler also ran for governor in 1982 and 1986. Several incidents during these campaigns raised his profile as a "colorful character." In the 1982 race, Vogler was taken to task for comments made during a debate. The issue of moving Alaska's capital appeared during the election, as it has on and off since 1960. The media and political pundits took great fun over Vogler's debate remarks that Alaska should "nuke the glaciers" along the coast of the Gulf of Alaska and build a freeway to Juneau. Vogler would later contend that what he said was misinterpreted.

Vogler's running mate in 1986 was Al Rowe, a Fairbanks resident and former Alaska State Trooper. Rowe took out a series of newspaper ads, fashioning himself in the image of Sheriff Buford Pusser. These ads were a major attention getter during the race. Between Rowe's ads and the turmoil existing in the Republican Party over the nomination of Arliss Sturgulewski, the AIP ticket was able to garner 5.5 percent of the vote, gaining the AIP status in Alaska as a recognized political party for the first time.

Disappearance and death

Vogler disappeared under suspicious circumstances in May 1993" [ Remains of Alaska Separatist Are Identified] , The New York Times, published October 15, 1994] , just weeks before he was scheduled to give a speech to the United Nations on Alaskan independence, sponsored by the government of Iran.cite web| last = Talbot| first = David| authorlink = David Talbot| title = The Palins’ un-American activities| publisher =| date = Oct. 7, 2008| url = | accessdate =2008-10-10 ] cite web| last = Coppock| first = Michael| authorlink = Michael Coppock| title = On Vogler, an independent Alaska| publisher = Juneau Empire| date = Mar. 14, 2008| url = | accessdate =2008-10-10 ] Convicted thief Manfried West confessed to having murdered Vogler the following year in what he described as a plastic explosives sale gone bad. Vogler's remains were discovered in a gravel pit east of Fairbanks in October 1994 following an anonymous tip. They had been wrapped in a blue tarp secured with duct tape and were identified through fingerprint analysis.

In the opinion of AIP Chair Lynette Clark and other AIP leaders, however, Vogler's death reflected more than a dispute with West. Clark has stated, "He was executed."cite web| last = Talbot| first = David| authorlink = David Talbot| title = Freedom fighter| publisher =| date = Sept. 10, 2008| url = | accessdate =2008-10-07 ] She notes that Vogler was about to appear before the United Nations to address the issue of Alaskan independence: "The United States government would have been deeply embarrassed. And we can't have that, can we?"

Vogler was buried in Dawson City, Yukon Territory, Canada, fulfulling his wish that he not be buried under the American flag. His second wife, Doris, who died of cancer in January 1992, is buried next to him.

ee also

*Legal status of Alaska


* [ Project Jukebox: Joe Vogler] . Interview by Margaret Van Cleve, March 29, 1991.
* [ Joe Vogler: In Memoriam] . From the [ Alaskan Independence Party] .
*"Like A Tree to the Soil": A History of Farming in the Tanana Valley, 1903 to 1940. Josephine E. Papp and Josie Phillips. UAF School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences, 2007.

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