I’ve used the word “homestead” in quotes through most of this blog’s six years of publication. I do it to point out that The Federal Homestead Act is no longer the law of the land. I felt this particularly important as an Alaskan, as the myth persists that one can still “prove up” homestead land in The Last Frontier. To date, this blog’s most viewed post seems to be Free Land in Alaska? in which I address this issue at length.
For that reason, I’ve conscientiously tried to enclose the term homestead in quotation marks, including the title of our book about homestead life, Sacred Coffee: A “Homesteader’s” Paradigm. I find it tedious, and I don’t always manage it.
Well, I’m not going to do it anymore! If you recall, I recently contributed to The 104 Homestead (see Branching Out). I’ve been reading posts on that site, and came across a reference to the current definition of “homestead”. This definition is backed up by several online dictionaries:
“The dwelling house and its adjoining land where a family resides. Technically, and pursuant to the modern homestead exemption laws, an artificial estate in land, created to protect the possession and enjoyment of the owner against the claims of creditors by preventing the sale of the property for payment of the owner’s debts so long as the land is occupied as a home.”
That works for me. I think the point I’ve been trying to make can be carried by the book title and the disclaimer on our home page; I can now dispense with the quotes and just call our place a non-qualified homestead.
I realize this does not constitute earthshaking news. It’s hardly post-worthy, but it does make a difference to me. I consider it a small improvement in composing this blog, a tiny impediment removed, a slight streamlining of a sometimes onerous process. And, it’s conceivable that someone, somewhere reading this blog might become confused by the change.
Besides, using this definition makes our blog a little more inclusive. After all, by this definition, if we own our homes, we are all homesteaders, are we not?