Community Activist, Politician, Historian, Cultural Worker, And Author

Community Activist, Politician, Historian, Cultural Worker, And Author

Written on 11/04/2021

Thelma Garcia Buchholdt was a Filipino American community activist, politician, historian, public speaker, cultural worker, and author. Buchholdt achieved a first as a Filipino American by being elected to the Alaska House of Representatives for four consecutive terms, from 1974 through 1982 which was a predominately white district. She was the author of the book Filipinos in Alaska: 1788-1958.

The Anchorage Municipal Assembly and Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich passed a joint resolution recognizing July 5, 2008, as Thelma Buchholdt Day "In Celebration of Thelma's Life Time Commitment to Public Service that Upholds Social Justice and the Great Values of Cultural Diversity and Respect for All Peoples."

Her life was one full of "firsts":

  • she was a founder of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Alaska (1966)
  • she was the first female to be elected President of the Filipino Community of Anchorage, Alaska, Inc. (1973)
  • she was the first Asian American elected to the Alaska State Legislature (1974)
  • she was the first female Filipino American elected to a legislature in the United States (1974)
  • she founded and coordinated the Filipino Heritage Council of Alaska, Inc. (1975)
  • she initiated funding (1980) and was a founder as well as the first president of the Asian Alaskan Cultural Center, the first cross-cultural center of its kind in Alaska (1983)
  • she was the first Asian American elected to serve as President of the National Order of Women Legislators (1987)
  • she founded the Alaska chapter of the Filipino American National Historical Society (1994)

In 2008, Thelma Buchholdt was awarded the James "Jim" Doogan Lifetime Achievement Award by the Alaska Democratic Party. 

On March 6, 2009, she was inducted into the Alaska Women's Hall of Fame in recognition of her long-term, significant contribution to Alaska and the "Thelma G. Buchholdt Picnic Shelter" was erected in 2010 at Woodland Park, near her Anchorage home.



"The history of the Filipino diaspora to America was important to Thelma. She wrote about history. But more significantly, Thelma Garcia Buchholdt made history."

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