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From Our Listeners

Alaska and Yukon Headlines

'Irregularities' at state crime lab could complicate drug cases

Wed, 2014-01-15 11:43
'Irregularities' at state crime lab could complicate drug cases In the wake of news that the state’s Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory had discovered issues related to the testing of illegal drugs, suspects and attorneys are unsure how pending drug cases will be affected.January 15, 2014

Video: Anchorage Home Depot employee catches falling baby

Wed, 2014-01-15 10:39
Video: Anchorage Home Depot employee catches falling baby

An employee at the Abbott Road Home Depot in Anchorage appeared to save a baby as it tumbled from its car seat atop the handles of a shopping cart last week in a video uploaded to YouTube Sunday.

January 15, 2014

AK Beat: New AT&T app limits smartphone distraction for drivers

Wed, 2014-01-15 08:43
AK Beat: New AT&T app limits smartphone distraction for drivers Do you find it impossible to put down your phone and watch the road when you're driving? There's an app for that.January 15, 2014

Anchorage Assembly Passes Spice Ticketing Law

Wed, 2014-01-15 07:44

Prosecutor Cynthia Franklin holds an empty container labeled potpourri which once held the drug Spice. The new law allows police officers to issue $500 tickets based on the packaging, price point and claims of the drug rather than it’s chemical composition.

Anchorage has a new law that fines people in possession of the designer drug spice. It’s the city’s second try at cracking down on the drug…after failed attempts with a narrow law that focused on contents that manufacturers change quickly. The Anchorage Assembly acted quickly after hearing public testimony on the damage that spice has been doing.

It’s just like a traffic ticket, but for drugs. Anchorage police officers can now write anyone a ticket per vial, tube or pack in possession of a spice or bath salt product. Municipal Prosecutor Cynthia Franklin says the new law identifies the substances without actually naming their chemical compounds or makeup.

“They identify it by it’s packaging, by it’s price point, by it’s claims. By the fact that it says on its package that it’s not a controlled substance even though it says it’s potpourri. That makes no sense. Potpourri is not a controlled substance so why would it say on it’s package that it’s not a controlled substance. What this ordinance says is that if it says it’s not a controlled substance then it’s an illicit synthetic drug and it’s illegal.”

Prosecutor Cynthia Franklin holds a packet of Spice labeled Brainfreeze. The new law passed by the Anchorage Assembly Tuesday allows police to issue tickets based on the name and claims on the packaging and on it’s cost.

Franklin, who helped pass the first spice ordinance in 2010, says manufacturers of drug change its composition quickly. The new law is based on one that was passed in Maine and will make laboratory tests less necessary. Anchorage Police Chief Mark Mew says the new law gives police a way to immediately to get the drug off the streets, through ticketing.

“You pay a fine. That fine, if you don’t pay it will go to your permanent fund. It’s quick. Because it’s quick, because it’s not criminal you don’t get a free attorney from the government, you don’t get a right to jury trial. It’s a low level crime, it’s handled low, it’s handled in an inexpensive way for the public. And while it’s not the total solution, it is a simple solution that we can put to use right a way while the more complex law starts developing.”

The tickets are $500 per item. Officers could begin issuing them as early as this week.
outcue

Anchorage Assembly passes Spice ban, puts port management, election questions on hold

Tue, 2014-01-14 23:21
Anchorage Assembly passes Spice ban, puts port management, election questions on hold Anchorage lawmakers agreed to try a new tack in the municipality's fight against synthetic marijuana, a fix that has already shown promise in Bangor, Maine. Other matters before the members will wait until February.January 14, 2014

Parnell administration signals willingness to back off on measure aiming to speed development

Tue, 2014-01-14 21:06
Parnell administration signals willingness to back off on measure aiming to speed development The deputy commissioner of the state Department of Natural Resources said his staff are reexamining provisions of HB 77 that are generating protests in Alaska. January 14, 2014

Arctic ice growing slower than average so far this winter

Tue, 2014-01-14 21:06
Arctic ice growing slower than average so far this winter The National Snow and Ice Data Center says Arctic ice coverage in December was the fourth lowest since satellite records began. There are unanswered questions about potential impacts on unusual winter weather.January 14, 2014

If smartphones are so smart, why don't they tell drivers to watch the road?

Tue, 2014-01-14 20:58
If smartphones are so smart, why don't they tell drivers to watch the road? OPINION: Some hospitals are now treating smartphone usage as a potentially dangerous addictive behavior and have started screening staff. People who disagree with that are clearly not paying attention, and maybe not even when they're driving.January 14, 2014

State picks contractor for North Slope LNG to slash Fairbanks energy costs

Tue, 2014-01-14 20:54
State picks contractor for North Slope LNG to slash Fairbanks energy costs The state picked a multinational company on Tuesday to lead plans for a project to bring gas to Fairbanks via trucks from the North Slope. The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority will try to seal the deal with a contract.January 14, 2014

State, feds fight lawsuit seeking federal oversight of Cook Inlet fisheries

Tue, 2014-01-14 20:48
State, feds fight lawsuit seeking federal oversight of Cook Inlet fisheries A lawsuit underway in Alaska U.S. District Court seeks federal oversight of Cook Inlet commercial salmon fisheries, but may be even wider reaching. On Monday, a public hearing was held to discuss the lawsuit, with state officials testifying against the litigation.January 14, 2014

Former DNR Commissioner Dan Sullivan Raises $1.2 Million For Senate Race

Tue, 2014-01-14 18:24

The U.S. Senate campaign of Dan Sullivan announced today how much money he collected in his first three months of fund-raising – $1.2 million.

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It’s a fast start for the former Natural Resources Commissioner, who is in a three-way race for the Republican primary.

None of the other candidates has released a fourth quarter total yet, but judging by previous reports, Sullivan is likely to have raised a lot more than his Republican rivals, Mead Treadwell and Joe Miller. Even incumbent Sen. Mark Begich hasn’t raised $1.2 million in a single quarter so far, although he raised more than twice that in the first nine months of last year. Sullivan campaign spokesman Mike Anderson says it’ll take serious money to go against Begich.

“We are honored and thankful for the support that we’ve received from Alaskans and people across the country,” Anderson said.

The campaign isn’t saying how much of that money is from Alaskans. Sullivan has held multiple Lower 48 fundraisers. His spokesman says the details will be in the report they file with the Federal Election Commission, and that isn’t due until the end of the month.

Anchorage Political consultant Art Hackney, who is raising money for a pro-Sullivan PAC, says posting an impressive number puts Sullivan on the map.

“I think the biggest thing people have been saying is they’re not quite sure who he is,” Hackney said. “This will get him exactly what he needs, is people saying now I’m going to pay attention, I’d like to know more about him.”

A survey by Ivan Moore published last month shows Treadwell leading with 34 percent of the vote in a three-way Republican primary, but Sullivan was close behind, nearly within the margin of error. The survey showed Joe Miller winning in much of the Railbelt, including Fairbanks, Mat-Su and the Kenai Peninsula, and Treadwell ahead in Anchorage and Southeast.

Shishmaref Delegation Meets With Climate Change Task Force

Tue, 2014-01-14 18:23

A delegation from Shishmaref is visiting Congress to explain how their world is changing. Shishmaref Native Corporation President Tony Weyiouanna told lawmakers at a climate task force meeting the village used to have so much beach they played baseball on it. Now, with the water level rising and the island eroding, they don’t have enough shore to dig clams. They’re finding tumors and hair loss on the marine mammals. The ice isn’t thick enough for safe travel.

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Juneau Businesses Take The Bitcoin Lead

Tue, 2014-01-14 18:22

Bitcoin is a digital currency not backed by any country’s government. The currency only exists on the Internet and has been growing in popularity over the past year and a half.

Now, a few businesses in the capital city are starting to deal in bit coin and accept it for payment.

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In the Alaska Robotics shop in downtown Juneau, shelves are lined with comic books and graphic novels, local art hangs from the walls, and kids talk about Minecraft.

“Do you have any comic books about Minecraft?” a young customer asks shop owner Pat Race.

“Oh, that’s a good question. I don’t think we do… ” Race replies checking his inventory, but he sees that such a comic book does exist and says he’ll order it.

“It’s kind of sciencey,” the customer explains. “You put sand in a furnace and make glass”

Besides Minecraft, another hot topic at the shop is bitcoin. Owner Pat Race got his first bitcoin last spring. “I sent a MoneyGram off to some Eastern European country and then my bitcoin appeared in some account.”

Race bought $150 worth, which, at the time, equaled one bitcoin. Since then, the value of bitcoin has fluctuated. “Back at the beginning of 2013, the price was about $18-$19 for a bitcoin and it peaked at about $1,242 in mid-Nov. and then immediately crashed down to almost $500 in Dec. and is back up to about $800-$850,” Race explains.

Race wants to incorporate bitcoin into his business.

“I would like to adopt bitcoin here at the store just because I think it will emerge as a global currency. And I don’t know if specifically it will be bitcoin but I think some kind of cryptocurrency is in our future,” he says.

Alaska Robotics recently advertised its first item selling for bitcoin – a limited edition print of Miley Cyrus riding a bitcoin with drones flying overhead. It costs .04 bitcoin. That’s the equivalent of roughly $30, and Race is only accepting bitcoin.

He’s not the only business owner in Juneau embracing cryptocurrency. In the window of Gold & Silver Exchange at Nugget Mall, a sign reads, “bitcoin – BUY/SELL”

“It’s only been there three weeks but it’s gotten a lot of attention, ” says owner Dylan Hammons. He’s only sold bitcoin to one person, but he’s not worried. He considers his shop the hub of the bitcoin community. “There’s a lot of talk about bitcoin. I’ve been talking about bitcoin pretty much nonstop for the last month and a half since it shot through the roof, so I’m chatting everybody up about it. There’s a lot of people that are showing interest. People are aware of it now.”

Hammons says some people who got into bitcoin a couple years ago are now bitcoin millionaires.

“From what I hear, there’s actually a bitcoin millionaire walking around town here, so that’s pretty big news,” Hammons says.

When asked if he was the bitcoin millionaire, Hammons replies, ”No, it’s not me. I wish it was.”

Hammons hopes to capitalize on educating others about bitcoin, specifically other Juneau businesses. “The more people get bitcoin into their head, the more they’re going to want to spend it. So, as time goes on, more people are going to be coming into their shops and asking, ‘Hey, do you guys take bitcoin?’ And then the businesses are going to be like, ‘Oh hey, wait a minute, we better figure this thing out.’ So then they’re going to be calling people and that’s where I come in and I go and show them how to do it.”

Northern Economics Senior Economist Jonathan King is surprised with the bitcoin activity in Juneau businesses. “Wow,” he says, “they’re starting to accept bitcoin, huh?”

He doesn’t know of other Alaska businesses doing it, but thinks those that are may be ahead of the curve.

“It’s really interesting and definitely puts those businesses out on the leading edge of a new frontier,” King says.

With that, he says, comes inherent risk, “If you end up in a volatile currency that changes value rapidly, you could end up a big winner or you could end up a big loser.”

The idea of alternatives to traditional currency has been around for a while, but King says bitcoin is something different:

“You can get online, you can do business with somebody in India, you can do business with somebody in China, or you can do it locally if you can find somebody who’s willing to take them, and I think that’s what makes it different. It’s probably one of the first internationally exchangeable alternative currencies.”

King anticipates regulatory hurdles when it comes to taxes. “The U.S. Treasury is probably going to be want an accounting of the exchanges that occurred with bitcoin and they’re probably going to want to get paid in dollars.”

Alaska Robotics owner Pat Race isn’t too worried about that yet. He admits the concept of accepting bitcoin is a bit gimmicky at this point, “but it’s also a technology that I want to support. I think that tourists that come in and say, ‘Oh wow, I found this shop in Alaska that took bitcoin’ – I think it will be a very limited – but those people will be excited to see it.”

This summer, Race plans to accept bitcoin for everything in the store, which means soon you can go into Alaska Robotics and buy a Minecraft comic book with a simple  scan of your smart phone.

Fairbanks Militia Leader Holding Anti-Gun-Control Rally

Tue, 2014-01-14 18:21

A local militia leader is organizing an anti-gun-control rally that’ll be held next month in downtown Fairbanks. The rally is one of five to be held around the state on Feb. 23 to show support for the Second Amendment and other right-wing political causes.

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Alaska News Nightly: January 14, 2014

Tue, 2014-01-14 18:07

Individual news stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via emailpodcast and RSS. Follow us on Facebook at alaskapublic.org and on Twitter @aprn.

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Former DNR Commissioner Dan Sullivan Raises $1.2 Million For Senate Race

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington DC

The U.S. Senate campaign of Dan Sullivan announced today how much money he collected in his first three months of fund-raising: $1.2 million. It’s a fast start for the former Natural Resources Commissioner, who is in a three-way race for the Republican primary.

Shishmaref Delegation Meets With Climate Change Task Force

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington DC

A delegation from Shishmaref is visiting Congress to explain how their world is changing. Shishmaref Native Corporation President Tony Weyiouanna told lawmakers at a climate task force meeting the village used to have so much beach they played baseball on it. Now, with the water level rising and the island eroding, they don’t have enough shore to dig clams. They’re finding tumors and hair loss on the marine mammals. The ice isn’t thick enough for safe travel.

Lawsuit Could Bring Federal Oversight Into Salmon Harvests

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

A federal lawsuit filed by a Cook Inlet fishermen’s group seeks to overturn state salmon management in some parts of Alaska. The suit targets the National Marine Fisheries Service, among other federal agencies, and, if successful, could bring federal oversight into some of the state’s salmon harvests.

Juneau Businesses Take The Bitcoin Lead

Lisa Phu, KTOO – Juneau

Bitcoin is a digital currency not backed by any country’s government. The currency only exists on the Internet and has been growing in popularity over the past year and a half.

Now, a few businesses in the capital city are starting to deal in bit coin and accept it for payment.

Fairbanks Militia Leader Holding Anti-Gun-Control Rally

Tim Ellis, KUAC – Fairbanks

A local militia leader is organizing an anti-gun-control rally that’ll be held next month in downtown Fairbanks. The rally is one of five to be held around the state on Feb. 23 to show support for the Second Amendment and other right-wing political causes.

World Wildlife Fund Releasing Walrus Ivory Report

Zachariah Hughes, KNOM – Nome

Next month, the World Wildlife Fund is releasing a report on walrus ivory.

Grant Advances Kasaan Longhouse Repairs

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau

A nearly-half-million-dollar grant will speed restoration of Alaska’s oldest Haida  longhouse. The structure was first built 130 years ago.

Dena’ina Athabascan Exhibit Wraps Up At Anchorage Museum

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

Sunday marked the final day of the Dena’ina Athabascan exhibit at the Anchorage Museum. A culmination of seven years of work, the exhibit reveals the art, history, culture and science of the lives of the people whose territory Anchorage now encompasses. Aaron Leggett is one of the curators and a Dena’ina tribal member. We walked through the exhibit one last time on Sunday. Leggett says thousands of Anchorage school children, residents and tourists visited during the four month run. The exhibit starts with a contemporary fish camp scene. One of Leggett’s favorite parts of the exhibit is a slide show of the Dena’ina people.

World Wildlife Fund Releasing Walrus Ivory Report

Tue, 2014-01-14 18:00

Next month, the World Wildlife Fund is releasing a report on walrus ivory.

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Grant Advances Kasaan Longhouse Repairs

Tue, 2014-01-14 17:59

The roof of Kasaan’s Chief Son-i-Hat House, also known as the Whale House, is covered by a tarp during repair work. (Organized Village of Kasaan.)

A nearly-half-million-dollar grant will speed restoration of Alaska’s oldest Haida longhouse. The structure was first built 130 years ago.

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Haida Chief Son-i-Hat built the original longhouse in the 1880s at the village of Kasaan. It’s on the eastern side of Southeast’s Prince of Wales Island, about 30 miles northwest of Ketchikan.

It was called Naay I’waans, The Great House. Many know it as The Whale House, for some of the carvings inside.

Scaffolding allows repairs to the Kasaan Whale House smokehole, which was damaged by rot. (Organized Village of Kasaan.)

It deteriorated, as wooden buildings in the rain forest do. The Civilian Conservation Corps, a depression-era employment program, rebuilt it in the late 1930s.

Now, the house badly needs repair again.

“It’s a matter of our cultural revitalization, showing that we’re still here and part of these lands,” says Richard Peterson, president of the Tribal Council for the Organized Village of Kasaan.

The tribal government is partnering with the Native village corporation Kavilco, and its cultural arm, the Kasaan Haida Heritage Foundation.

“A lot of the building is still in really good condition. Some of the supports are what’s failing. I think we’re fortunate enough that we don’t need a total reconstruction, so we want to maintain as much as we can,” Peterson says.

Read more about the effort.

An analysis by Juneau-based MRV Architects estimated full repairs would cost more than $2 million. A scaled-back plan totaled about $1.4 million. It listed several phases to be completed as funds came in.

And they have. In late November, the Anchorage-based Rasmuson Foundation awarded the project $450,000. Peterson says that, plus funds from the tribal government and its partners, is about enough to complete the work.

“So right now, we’re milling up the logs and they’re going to hand-adz all of the timbers. And we’re just going in and starting to secure up some of the corners that are dropping down. It’s been a really exciting project,” Peterson says.

The effort to stabilize the longhouse has been underway for around two years. But it picked up speed last summer.

The lead carver is Stormy Hamar, who is working with apprentices Eric Hamar, his son, and Harley Bell-Holter. Others volunteer.

Peterson says it’s an all-ages effort.

“The great part is these young kids that are getting involved. And it’s across the lines. Native, non-Native, it doesn’t matter. There’s been a real interest by the youth there,” Peterson says.

Work continues through the winter. Peterson says the focus now is repairing or replacing structural elements so the longhouse doesn’t collapse.

The Whale House is already attracting attention. Independent travelers drive the 17-mile dirt road that starts near Thorne Bay. And Sitka-based Alaska Dream Cruises also stops in Kasaan, where the house is on the list of sights to see.

“Because it’s off-site, you’re not going to see any modern technology. There’s no cars driving by. You can really see how our people lived 200 years ago and experience that and look at those totems in a natural setting,” Peterson says. “It wasn’t put there for a park. This is how it was. And I think people really appreciate that.”

Without too many surprises, Peterson hopes work can be completed in around two years.

Then, he says, the tribe will host a celebration like the one Wrangell leaders put on last year when they finished the Chief Shakes Tribal House.

Dena’ina Athabascan Exhibit Wraps Up At Anchorage Museum

Tue, 2014-01-14 17:58

Sunday marked the final day of the Dena’ina Athabascan exhibit at the Anchorage Museum. A culmination of seven years of work, the exhibit reveals the art, history, culture and science of the lives of the people whose territory Anchorage now encompasses. Aaron Leggett is one of the curators and a Dena’ina tribal member. We walked through the exhibit one last time on Sunday. Leggett says thousands of Anchorage school children, residents and tourists visited during the four month run. The exhibit starts with a contemporary fish camp scene. One of Leggett’s favorite parts of the exhibit is a slide show of the Dena’ina people.

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The exhibit opens with a fish camp scene that is contemporary but displays cultural continuity for thousands of years.

Yes, at one time there were salmon cultures up and down both the east and west coasts and most of them are gone now. But in Alaska, certainly for the Dena’ina, the Yupik, the Tlingit in southeast, we still have sustainable wild salmon runs so this literally is an unbroken chain of activities that goes back thousands of years, our ability to go out and put up fish for the winter time. It varies from community to community, like in Eklutna, where I’m from, we have to have an educational permit, but nevertheless, it’s not about the number of fish, it’s about the activity, and being able to pass that on to future generations to know how to put in a net, how to catch fish, how to split fish, how to dry fish for the winter. It’s about the activity not the quantity necessarily.

So let’s walk on a little bit. We’re by the fish camp now. When we come into the next room, give us the visual here.

So in this gallery, this is organized around Dena’ina identity. And it takes you through Dena’ina life cycle. A slide show with photographs going back to the 1880s all the way up to contemporary photographs. There’s about 180 images and it takes about 12 minutes to watch, but I know Dena’ina people who have sat here and watched the entire slide show and they see pictures of their family. Themselves, parents, grandparents, great grandparents, it’s about people, not just objects from the past. It’s about our people and it’s about our people. So to have images from the 1880s up to last summer when some of these were taken. It shows the continuity over time, so despite all the changes that have occurred, the offices, the shopping malls, the movie theathers. This is still our homeland and we’re still here as a people.

When you were doing the research and collecting these items, you’re quite young, was it odd to think about. I imagine it gave you a better visual of what this area looked like, that is now so urbanized. What were your thoughts about that?

Yes. When I got into college and started to learn more, it really informed the place I lived in. It opened my eyes to think that when my grandmother was a child for example, we had fish camps here in Anchorage and they would go to them and we were able to put up thousands of fish. And in some ways it will be the lasting legacy of the exhibit. There’s no replacing seeing the actual exhibit but I know a hundred years from now that book will still be around and people can go to it to learn what for example this display case with traditional clothing that would have been worn during the 19th century. Tanned caribou hide and woven porcupine quill embroidery. It’s spectacular and really fine work. It’s a style of clothing that hasn’t been done during the 20th century. We actually don’t even know how it was done because the Dena’ina gave up that style by the 1880s. So it’s kind of eye opening even to our own people to see these things because we’ve heard stories about them but we’ve never really seen them up close and personal.

I would imagine that some elements of it stand out more than others for you. What are some of your favorites?

This identity slide show I really like, especially in the context of the exhibition. It really made a difference watching this go in and the difference seeing the objects in here without it and then with them, it really brings it to life and again, brings it back to the idea of a living people. Obviously the dioramas I love, the fish camp and the beluga harpoon. The case with the leadership regalia sticks out to me. The beluga spearer itself is quite a rare object. The only one in the world we have here. The story telling house is neat. To be able to sit down with the I pads and be able to select different stories in both English and Dena’ina. I love it all, but those are some of the things that pop into my mind. Also some of the films in the timeline came out very well, very impressed with being able to convey that history, both the Dena’ina resistance to early Russian occupation but also the Kenaitze Indian tribe struggle for the educational fishery during the 1980s. These are very important stories that aren’t told very often and so bringing that history out will open people’s eyes to the history of the area that we live in both from the distant past , from the late 1700s to something that happened in my lifetime in the 1980s.

One of the displays in this exhibit is the table top, describe that for people who haven’t been here.

Sure. It’s called the Dena’ina dining table.  We rented space here in Anchorage, had a special camera set up high above in the ceiling and it filmed down on the table and we had our eight advisors and myself included, who sat around the table with traditional Dena’ina foods and we had a meal. Everybody sat around and we talked about the food and the land and we had a good time. After we filmed it, we had a projector set up and it throws the image down on to an almost full sized table, so it’s almost a one to one table and people can stand around and watch us eat food and laugh and tell stories and have a good time. Of all the things related to the exhibition, visitor feedback, that’s the number one object. I wouldn’t have thought that but hands down, overwhelmingly, people respond to that dining table. I have to admit, even the first time I saw it, it looked very spectacular. We were able to achieve a really good effect.

What are you hoping that the residents of anchorage and people who have come here to see this, what are you hoping they go away with. What was the whole idea of what you were trying to achieve here?

I think number one, anybody who now, when they say Dena’ina, they can put an image to it. When I was a kid and I said Dena’ina, people would say ‘What’s that?’ and I’d say, we’re the people of this area and they would say, ‘well I didn’t know Natives used to live here,’ and I’d say well, we still live here. So, every time they see the Dena’ina center, they’ll now have an image of who the people are. That’s my hope, if I can think of anything, probably that people will have a visual reference or a quote or a place name or an object will come into their mind now. Because if you say Tlingit, something comes into your mind, if you say Yupik, something comes to mind, if you say Inupiaq, something comes to mind, but if you said Dena’ina, maybe nothing came to mind, so that would be it.

Aaron Leggett will receive the governor’s award for arts in the humanities later this month in Juneau.

Southeast Alaska pummeled by storm, mudslides, power outages

Tue, 2014-01-14 16:39
Southeast Alaska pummeled by storm, mudslides, power outages Officials were warning residents in Southeast Alaska to stay indoors as heavy rain and wind lashed the region, triggering mudslides, flooding and power outages.January 14, 2014

‘We have to make some tough choices’: mayor

Tue, 2014-01-14 13:57
As Whitehorse property owners face the lowest tax hike they’ve seen in 10 years, those on the city’s water and sewer system are expected see their bills go up for the first time in three years.

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