Did you know that the Eskimo logo of Alaska Airlines is likely based on a real person? The logo was first introduced in 1972, when Alaska began painting its aircraft using one of four different tail designs: the Eskimo of today, a gold miner, an image of Russian onion-domed church spires to commemorate Russian influence in Alaska’s history, and a Native American wood-carved totem pole. In 1976, the other three logos were done away with and the Eskimo face became Alaska’s sole logo. The Eskimo is said to have been based on either one of two native Alaskans. The first is Chester Seveck, a native dancer and raindeer herder from the town of Kotzebue (he is the more popular candidate, with many Alaska employees believing that it is Seveck’s face on the tail and some using ‘Chester’ as a nickname for Alaska). The other popular suggestion is Oliver Amouak, who performed in an Alaska Airlines-sponsored stage show called ‘It’s Alaska!’ during the 1950’s. Looking at photos of both men you can kind of see the resemblance in each (Amouak is at left in the top photo and Seveck is at left in the bottom):
In my opinion, the Eskimo face is one of the best logos in the airline industry today. It has as much history behind it as the logos of any of the great major airlines of the world, but, moreover, expresses at a very basic level what Alaska Airlines is. Look at the logos of any other of big US airlines and you’ll find globes, triangles, malformed eagles, but look at Alaska’s and you see a smiling, welcoming face. It’s just so much less corporate and so much more friendly, and I think we can all agree that’s pretty awesome.