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Alaska and Yukon Headlines
The federal government has finalized new guidelines on the use of sea otters by Alaska Natives. The change is aimed at better-defining a requirement that hides must be “significantly altered” in order to be considered authentic native handicrafts or clothing that can be sold to non-natives.
“These are guidelines and they are to help the native artisans to understand what exactly qualifies as significantly altered,” Andrea Medeiros is a spokesperson for the US Fish and Wildlife Service which has been working on the revised wording for more than a year
The final guidelines say a sea otter will be considered “significantly altered” when it’s not recognizable as a whole hide and has been made into handicrafts or clothing. The language goes on to define that in more detail.
It’s a positive step, according to the Sealaska Heritage Institute which teaches classes in the native tradition of skin sewing. SHI Chief Operating Officer Lee Kadinger says the new wording still needs some adjustment but, overall, he says SHI appreciates the change.
Kadinger thinks it helps clear up a term that, he says, has caused significant harm to artisans over the years, “Clarifying significantly altered to more align with the marine mammal protection acts original intent is…. we feel this language is going to help continue a tradition practiced since time immemorial without fear of prosecution….Protecting this inherent cultural right is not only good public policy but it supports and preserves cultural diversity and respects the traditions and lifestyles of Alaska Native people.”
The Fish and Wildlife Service’s new definition of “significantly altered” is very similar to language endorsed last year by the Alaska Federation of Natives. That’s with the exception of a line requiring that an otter skin be changed enough that it cannot be easily converted back to an unaltered hide or a piece of hide. According to Kadinger, S-H-I is concerned over the words “piece of hide” since it would be hard to prevent someone from cutting a piece of fur from finished clothing or handicrafts.
“We feel it is acceptable to require individuals, or an item, that cannot be converted back into an unaltered hide. Conversely, we feel including the few words ‘cannot be easily converted back into a piece of hide’ is unnecessary and problematic. So the real issue there is the four words ‘piece of hide’ that we hope to continue to work with Fish and Wildlife service to understand what that part means,” says Kadinger.
Sea otters are a federally-protected species and only coastal Alaska Natives are allowed hunt them. The revised language was, in part, prompted by concerns that unclear regulations and past enforcement actions had discouraged native use of the animals.
According to the agency, the final guidelines are based on input from a 2012 workshop with native artisans and hunters as well as extensive public comments on draft language that came out last spring.
Some commenters had found the draft language too restrictive. Others opposed the change as an attempt to weaken protections and encourage more hunting for the animals which have come into conflict with some of Alaska’s fisheries.
The state of Alaska has more time to develop a plan to improve Fairbanks air quality. An Environmental Protection Agency deadline that passed last year is now December 31, 2014. The new timeline also comes with more stringent requirements related to addressing Fairbanks wintertime fine particulate pollution.
Anchorage police say an 18-year-old man found badly beaten in an abandoned downtown house two months ago likely had been attacked two to three days before he was found.
James Clinton was rescued by police Sept. 16 after an anonymous note was left at with University of Alaska Anchorage police.
Anchorage police have arrested four men in the case: 19-year-old Iosia Fiso, 20-year-old Trevvor Trobough, 21-year-old Tye Manning and 22-year-old Michael Liufau.
The Anchorage Daily News reports the four are charged with felony assault and hindering prosecution. Liufau is also charged with coercion.
The beating left Clinton in a coma for weeks.
A 28-year-old man is accused of beating a Healy man with a baseball bat in an apparent case of mistaken identity.
Joshua R. Sanford of Healy is charged with felony assault.
The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner says Sanford was arrested Thursday and being held on $25,000 bail at Fairbanks Correctional Center.
Sanford’s attorney, Bill Satterberg, says he is not commenting on the case now.
According to court documents, Alaska state troopers were called Oct. 26 by a man who was driving his injured brother to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital.
The documents say the injured man told troopers he was at a friend’s house when he was hit on the head from behind. The documents say a witness identified the attacker as Sanford and that he thought he hit someone else.
Though many Anchorage lakes aren't yet suitable for ice skating, that didn't stop some intrepid souls from making their way out to the shallow waters of Potter Marsh Wednesday morning. And a storm system could make Anchorage roads as slick as its lakes.November 20, 2013
An experimental aircraft tested during flights in Alaska and Africa has a unique design element that its creators hope will cut down on stalls, one of the common causes of aircraft accidents.November 20, 2013
Dozens of friends, former staffers and other well-wishers gathered Monday at UAF’s Rasmuson Library to celebrate what would’ve been former Sen. Ted Stevens’ 90th birthday.
Monday’s commemoration also marked the opening of a new exhibit in the library’s collection of Stevens’s official papers generated during his long career as a U.S. senator from Alaska.
There are many tales that are told of Ted Stevens’s nearly 40-year career in the U.S. Senate – like how he wore his Incredible Hulk tie on days when he knew he’d have to do some serious arm-twisting to get fellow senators’ support for a piece of legislation he was pushing.
Marie Matsumo Nash has heard a few of those tales during the 29 years she worked for Stevens, and she shared one of them Monday. Nash says many years ago Stevens asked her at the last minute to cook some salmon for a meeting of Republican lawmakers in Washington.
“We had to dress it up,” she said. “We were peeling the skin off and putting sliced cucumbers on, making it fit for the senators that were going to be eating it. So that wsas kind of fun. It was something that I’d never done.”
Now there’s another Stevens tale to add to the lore. It’s the story behind an exhibit of Alaska maps related to the senator’s career that UAF graduate student Susannah Dowds has set up in the Ted Stevens Papers Project in the Rasmuson Library.
“It was the first map of the United States that had Alaska in the correct proportion, in the correct position, and Hawaii in the correct proportion and the correct position,” she said.
Dowds says it’s called The Stevens Map because early-on in his Senate career, he directed the U.S. Geological Survey, the USGS, to publish a map that would clarify once and for all that contrary to how the state is depicted on many maps, Alaska is not some disembodied land mass located somewhere just off the coast of Baja California.
“When Alaska first became a state … cartographers just decided to put Alaska as an Insert south of California,” she said.
Dowds says over the years cartographers typically stuck Alaska somewhere near the lower left corner off the Lower 48, and usually at a much smaller scale than the rest of the states, because Alaska is so big, and so far away that it was impractical to show it in the correct place and size.
After it came out in 1975, the senator widely distributed copies of The Stevens map – and it quickly became very popular, especially among educators.
“He sent off copies to all the school in Alaska and we got letters from teachers, or his office did, and they asked for extra copies, because their students didn’t really know where Alaska was in relation to the rest of the United States,” Dowds said.
The “Mapping Alaska” exhibit will run through May.
A Sitka man was indicted last Friday for receiving a package containing over $30,000 worth of heroin and methamphetamine.
According to a criminal complaint filed in Sitka Superior court, a United States Postal Inspector had intercepted the package addressed to 35-year-old Jeremy Claggett on November 4, and notified the Sitka Police Department.
The package contained 1.63 ounces of methamphetamine and 24.8 grams of black tar heroin – quantities worth $9,000 and $24,000, respectively.
Four days later, police officers tracked Claggett as he picked up the package, traveled with it to an industrial site, opened and discarded the packaging, and drove away with its contents. Officers stopped traffic to detain Claggett on his way home.
According to court records, Claggett admitted to police that he had expected to receive a box containing controlled substances in the mail. He confirmed his address on the package. Claggett also admitted to being a convicted felon, and to possibly having handguns at his residence.
The Sitka Grand Jury indicted Claggett on four felony charges: possession with intent to manufacture or deliver heroin, possession with intent to manufacture or deliver methamphetamine, possession of a concealable firearm after having been convicted of a felony — this count applied twice for the two handguns found in Claggett’s possession.
Claggett’s next court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday, November 20.
Another member of Bartlett Regional Hospital’s leadership team is stepping down.
Chief Financial Officer Ken Brough will resign at the end of the year, according to a hospital news release. Interim CEO Jeff Egbert made the announcement in an email to hospital and medical staff and the Bartlett board of directors.
Brough has been with Bartlett since August 2012. He’s the third member of the hospital administration to resign or announce plans to resign in the past three months. CEO Chris Harff resigned last month, and Human Resources Director Norma Adams resigned in September.
Earlier this year, some hospital employees complained publicly about a culture of fear created by senior leadership officials. The city launched a personnel investigation in June.
When CEO Harff left the hospital in October, Brough was named acting CEO – an action that was questioned during public participation at last month’s board of directors meeting.
“How could the board allow Chris Harff to appoint Ken Brough as interim CEO knowing that both of them were under investigation?” asked Ron Gardner, spouse of Bartlett’s director of materials management Sue Gardner. The board did not respond to the question.
Brough plans to move to Prince of Wales Island, where he wants to build a fishing lodge and work as a health care consultant.
Egbert says Bartlett plans to name an interim CFO to serve during the search for a permanent replacement.
Bartlett Regional Hospital is owned by the City and Borough of Juneau. Its board of directors is appointed by the Juneau Assembly. It operates largely on patient fees.
KTOO’s Casey Kelly and Lisa Phu contributed to this report.