Race cachet letter for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, 2012

Description (Brief)
Letter included in the race cachet designed by Jona Van Zyle and carried by DeeDee Jonrowe in her sled bag from Anchorage, Alaska to Nome, Alaska. It was canceled in Anchorage on the day of the race start and on the day she finished in Nome. She is also the musher pictured in the Jeff Schultz photo used on the stamp on this envelope. As a breast cancer survivor, DeeDee likes Jona to use pink in her designs. Trail mail is on the list of required gear for all mushers to carry during the Iditarod, making it just as important as snow shoes, a sleeping bag, the vet book or an ax. Each musher is required to carry this mail cachet throughout the race and deliver it to the Nome post office when the race is completed. This cachet pays homage to the early history of the Iditarod Trail and its original purpose of providing mail and supplies for the Alaskan settlers drawn to the area by the gold rush.
The Iditarod Sled Dog Race is an extreme sports challenge that tests the skill and endurance of competitors while celebrating Alaska’s sled dog culture and history. Teams of 12 to 16 dogs, primarily Alaskan Huskies, and their musher experience harsh terrain and weather conditions during the 1,150 mile run from Anchorage to Nome. In its modern iteration as an extreme sport, the Iditarod takes an intense physical toll not only on the human competitors but also on the sled dogs. The race follows a large network of Native trade and travel routes which travelers used when gold was discovered in the isolated town of Iditarod. This discovery led to a “rush” of miners and settlers from across the country, transforming the trail into the region’s main mail and supply route. The area’s harsh winter conditions made sled dog teams the main source of transportation along the Iditarod Trail and it is this rich history which the Iditarod race celebrates today. In 1978 Congress designated the 2300 mile Iditarod Trail as a National Historic Trail recognizing its importance in the shaping of America. Through its beginnings as a regional story, the Iditarod provides us the opportunity to explore the American Experience through the origins of the Iditarod National Historic Trail and the transformation of the Alaskan sled dog culture into an international sport. The Iditarod is now the largest and most prominent sled dog race in the world, attracting international competitors and world-wide media attention.
Jon and Jona Van Zyle are both artists who live outside of Anchorage and have raised sled dogs for many years. Jon has been a supporter of the Iditarod since it beginnings and ran the race in 1976. Jon produced the first official poster for the Iditarod in 1977 which was such a huge success he was voted official artist of the Iditarod in 1979, a position he holds to this day. Jona also contributes her artistic talents to the race by designing logos for the Junior Iditarod and race cachets for the Iditarod and personal cachets for various mushers.
Location
Currently not on view
date made
2012
artist
Van Zyle, Jona
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 11 in x 8 1/2 in; 27.94 cm x 21.59 cm
ID Number
2014.0116.13.2
accession number
2014.0116
catalog number
2014.0116.14.2
subject
Professional
Sports
Dog Sled racing
Mail
Women
related event
Iditarod Sled Dog Race
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Sport and Leisure
Sled Dog Racing
Sports & Leisure
Data Source
National Museum of American History