The Pioneer Bar in Sitka, Alaska, has commemorated the sale of Alaska from Russia to the United States every year with an event called the “slavery auction,” reports Gawker. However, the bar’s owner confirmed Monday that they would be changing the name to the “Alaska Day Auction.”
The change came after the Anchorage chapter of the NAACP issued a press release on Sunday condemning the name.
“The connotation of buying and selling people against their will into slavery—that’s nothing to glorify,” chapter president Wanda Laws told the Alaska Dispatch News. “I’d like them to change the name, I’m not asking them to cancel the event.”
Rita Ledbetter, the organizer of the event, said that she didn’t understand the problem. The event, she explained, was for charity, and people who participated would auction off two hours of their time to do yard work or other helpful chores. The proceeds go to causes such as breast cancer charities.
Ledbetter continued by saying that she did not even know what the NAACP was. “Tell them to stick their nose back in their own business and leave us alone,” she said, according to the Dispatch News.
The “slave auction” had replaced a different Alaska Day Festival fundraiser that seems just as well thought out: “We had to get rid of the wet T-shirt contest,” Ledbetter said. “Because of the insurance. And it got wild.”
Alaska Day chairman Ted Allio (AL’-ee’oo) told the Associated Press he doesn’t see the big deal about the original name. Allio noted Russians enslaved Natives living in Sitka before the U.S. purchased Alaska in 1867, and added “You don’t hear them yelling” about the name.