Primary Source of the Month: September

Welcome back to another year exploring Iditarod Themed Primary Sources. Using historic photos and objects is a wonderful way to have students use critical thinking and observation skills as they try to understand what they are seeing and what it can teach us about history. In honor of the 50th running of the race, each month we will feature a photo from a different decade of the race! This month’s photo is from the very first Iditarod – 1973.

Using the Source With Students

  • Display the photo for the students and have them share what they See, Think, and Wonder about the artifact.
  • The two mushers on the sled give away the date of this photo – 1973. The first year was the only year that the rules allowed two mushers per team. This photo is of Robert and Owen Ivan of Akiak at the start. They went on to finish in 16th place. The only other 2-man team entry scratched, making these two the only two mushers to have finished the Iditarod as part of a 2-man team!
  • Rule #9 of the original rules stated: “Two mushers may drive one team, provided that both mushers cover the entire distance either on the sled or on foot. Both mushers of a two-man team must pay the $100.00 entry fee.” Have students skim through the 2022 Rules to see where this is addressed in today’s rules.
  • Discuss with the students their ideas on why they think the rules have changed to disallow 2-man teams. Do they think that 2-man teams should be reinstated?
  • As a follow-up, have the students answer one of the following prompts:
    • Do you think 2-man teams should be allowed in the 2022 Iditarod? Write a letter to the ITC Rules Committee stating your opinion about whether or not 2-man teams should be allowed to run this year’s Iditarod. Be sure to support your opinion.
    • If you had to choose a human teammate to run the Iditarod with, who would you choose and why?

Associated Resources:

  • Musher Career Summary
  • Photo included in Iditarod: The First Ten Years compiled by The Old Iditarod Gang. Originally published by the Anchorage Daily News.