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Alaska and Yukon Headlines

EPA proposes strict limits on Pebble mine to protect salmon

Fri, 2014-07-18 20:30
EPA proposes strict limits on Pebble mine to protect salmon The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Friday said it intends to take extraordinary action to protect Bristol Bay’s world-class salmon runs and unparalleled natural habitat from destruction by the proposed Pebble mine. But the agency is stopping short of blocking the mine outright.July 18, 2014

Alaska VPSOs get official state backing for firearms training and use

Fri, 2014-07-18 19:27
Alaska VPSOs get official state backing for firearms training and use After the death of village public safety officer Thomas Madole, the Alaska Legislature voted unanimously to allow Native associations to let the officers carry handguns. The bill was signed into law Friday in Naknek by Gov. Sean Parnell. July 18, 2014

Supreme Court affirms tribal court's authority in case of man convicted of beating girlfriend

Fri, 2014-07-18 18:48
Supreme Court affirms tribal court's authority in case of man convicted of beating girlfriend In a decision with important implications for tribal powers in Alaska, the state Supreme Court on Friday rejected an Indian Child Welfare Act case in which the Parnell administration challenged the authority of a tribal court in order to protect the constitutional rights of a man who had brutally assaulted and kidnapped his girlfriend.   July 18, 2014

Healy Lake chief refuses to step down despite court orders

Fri, 2014-07-18 18:38
Healy Lake chief refuses to step down despite court orders A Fairbanks woman pleaded not guilty to stealing government and tribal funds in late June, but despite the court order barring her from positions that include the handling of money, she has held onto her rank as Healy Lake tribal chief, according to her opponents.July 18, 2014

Ragtag adventurer from France still missing along Gulf of Alaska coast

Fri, 2014-07-18 18:36
Ragtag adventurer from France still missing along Gulf of Alaska coast Known by some as "The Crazy Frenchman," Francois Guenot was trying to make his way to the Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia from the village of Kokhanok on the south shore of Alaska's giant Iliamna Lake. He's been missing for months. July 18, 2014

Alaskans earn medals at national karate championships

Fri, 2014-07-18 17:31
Alaskans earn medals at national karate championships Eight members of Tanaka’s Martial Arts Academy in Anchorage earned 12 medals – three gold, two silver, seven bronze – at the USA national karate championships July 10-13 in Reno, Nevada. July 18, 2014

EPA Rolls Out Proposed Restrictions on the Pebble Mine

Fri, 2014-07-18 17:14

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy during a visit to Dillingham. (Credit Jason Sear)


The EPA has released the details of how they plan to use the Clean Water Act to put in place protections in Bristol Bay from the possible negative impacts of the proposed Pebble Mine.

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Alaska Supreme Court Affirms Tribal Court Jurisdiction

Fri, 2014-07-18 17:13

The Alaska Supreme Court issued a decision today in a long running tribal court jurisdiction case. The case stems from a Minto tribal court decision that terminated parental rights. The case stems from a Minto tribal court decision that terminated parental rights. The father, Edward Parks, was not a Minto tribal member, so he claimed the court did not have authority over him. He tried to take the case to state court and bypass tribal appellate court saying he was not allowed oral presentation of his argument. Natalie Landreth is an attorney with the Native American Rights Fund, the legal organization that defended the adoptive parents against the biological father’s challenge. She says there were two areas of legal clarity provided in the decision. The first is that a plaintiff must exhaust the appellate process in tribal court before taking a challenge to state court.

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Landreth: The second thing is it didn’t adopt what the state vigorously argued along with Mr. Parks which was this idea that you have to be allowed to present complex things in an oral argument format, saying tribal courts have to look like state courts, the court rejected that, saying that’s not the case.

What about the issue of tribal court authority over another tribal member not from that community. Was that settled in this decision or is that still out there?

 Landreth: I think that will depend on circumstances of cases where you might have an odd fact pattern, but this decision does clearly says, the jurisdiction is over that child. If that child is a tribal member of that tribe, then that tribal court has jurisdiction. That isn’t ground breaking, they cited the other Alaska tribal court case we’ve had in the last couple of years , which was the Kaltag decision, Judge Burgess said exactly the same thing, so again they did make a decision on that, but they’re not going out on a limb. They’re not doing something divergent from a court simply following the law.

Does this provide more clarity for how the state should see tribal courts and their jurisdiction?

Landreth: Absolutely.  Each one of these cases that we’ve been working on for years, is a separate step forward, a different piece of the puzzle which says what we’ve been advocating all along, which is that these courts do have authority to adjudicate children’s cases. There may be 31 flavors of that but that basic premise has not changed and this case is another piece of that puzzle.

Natalie Landreth is an attorney with NARF.

Alaska Attorney General Michael Geraghty says the decision was not far reaching.

Geraghty: The court decided the case on fairly narrow grounds, that Mr. Parks had not exhausted his tribal court remedies. So I think we’ve learned something from the opinion and that is positive in the sense that litigants before tribal courts, need to avail themselves of all remedies and appeals before the tribal courts before they go to state courts.

When you say that this is a narrow decision, are you saying that in your mind it’s not settled law then that the tribal courts have authority beyond their immediate tribal members?

Geraghty: That question was not decided. Which was did the tribal court have jurisdiction over Mr. Parks, a non-member who had never lived or resided in Minto. You can read some things in the court’s opinion but ultimately it did not reach that issue, which is the one the state was weighing in on, when we intervened.

Why is it seen as an important fight for the state to challenge tribal court authority givien the problems in rural Alaska and the need for help in administrating justice in tribal communities. What’s the long range concern about tribal authority that keeps the state arguing against some of these tribal court decisions?

Geraghty:  Well, I think….Mr. Parks case was terminating his parental rights. That’s not in the grand scheme of things probably a public safety issue. We do mean to make progress on that front and we’re not challenging tribal court authority on that front, we’re looking for ways to work with them to improve public safety. The case of Mr. Parks, when you’re dealing with family issues that are under the Indian Child Welfare Act. The issues, like Mr. Parks, they’re citizens of Alaska. They’re guaranteed certain rights under the constitution of our state. And when they go to state court claiming that those rights have been trampled or not observed, they’ve not received due process, yes, I take an interest in those.

Michael Geraghty is Alaska’s Attorney General.

State Confirms Rabies in Bat in Southeast Alaska

Fri, 2014-07-18 17:12

State officials have confirmed rabies in a bat in Southeast Alaska.

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The state health department said biologists on Prince of Wales Island last Sunday trapped several Keen’s myotis bats, one of which was acting more aggressively and seemed possibly sick. It was euthanized and tested for rabies. The test came back positive Thursday.
The two prior cases of confirmed rabies in bats in Alaska were in 1993 and 2006, both in Southeast.

Louisa Castrodale, an epidemiologist with the state, says Alaska doesn’t have a huge bat population. She says the department wants to ensure anyone who may have been bitten by a bat doesn’t discount their possible risk of exposure.

Diomede Helicopter Service Resumes

Fri, 2014-07-18 17:11

Little Diomede sits on the border of Russia and the United States. Photo: U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Richard Brahm, August 25 2008.

The helicopter to Diomede is flying today. The first flight to the island took off around 11 o’clock Friday morning after a new contract was formally signed by Erickson Aviation, Kawerak and Federal Department of Transportation officials Thursday.

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The helicopter to Diomede flew Friday morning at 11 a.m., the first flight to the remote Bering Sea island since a contract for service that uses state and federal funding lapsed at the end of June.

A new contract was formally signed Thursday by Erickson Aviation, regional nonprofit Kawerak, and federal Department of Transportation officials. Despite the contract ending June 30, mail deliveries by Erickson have continued.

“All the signatures, all the final ones came through yesterday, and as soon as I got back, there was a phone message for me and a couple emails saying go ahead, get going,” said Mike Kutbya, the Nome-based pilot and manager for Erickson Aviation. “Soon as I got the aircraft tied down, I called people that had missed flights over the last couple of weeks and got a flight ready to go today.”

The flight will continue its customary route, leaving from Nome and heading roughly 140 miles northwest toward Little Diomede. As in the past, weather and the number of passengers may necessitate an additional stopover at the community of Wales, where passengers can also board the helicopter and fly to Diomede. Tickets between Nome and Diomede remain $200 one-way; one-way tickets between Wales and Diomede are $100.

The federal Department of Transportation and Kawerak worked since May to hammer out a new contract, which leverages nearly $340,000 to keep the service running under the Essential Air Service program set up in 1978. Evergreen was the company that ran flights to Diomede in 2012 and 2013. Erickson eventually bought Evergreen, but a proposal from Erickson for the 2014 contract wasn’t delivered until June 7. That delayed input and approval from Diomede residents, federal DOT officials, and Kawerak until the end of June.

The new contract is now signed by all parties. As of Friday July 18, Kutyba said Erickson is resuming flights twice a week to the island—passenger service on Monday, weather permitting, with mail service on Wednesdays. Kutyba said Friday’s flight was to make up for those who have been waiting for weeks to return to the island.

Governor Signs Bill in Bethel to Ease Autopsy Burden

Fri, 2014-07-18 17:10

Governor Parnell signs HB 301, which eases the burdens on families for required autopsies. L to R: Alaska Medical Examiner Dr. Gary Zientek, Rep. Bob Herron, Governor Sean Parnell, YKHC President and CEO Dan Winkelman, and Senator Lyman Hoffman. (Photo by Dean Swope, KYUK – Bethel)

Governor Sean Parnell was in Bethel Thursday to sign a bill intended to help rural families navigate the process of having an autopsy done hundreds of miles away in Anchorage.

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When someone in western Alaska dies in suspicious or unusual circumstances, the state is required to conduct an autopsy or exam in Anchorage. Sometimes in that time of stress, family members are making decisions without good information. In a packed room of regional leaders at the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation Thursday, Governor Parnell signed a bill into law intended to make that stressful time easier.

“This is about dignity and respect for our lost loved ones, as well as the dignity and respect of the families that are involved,” said Parnell.

The bill makes explicit that families can choose to have the body returned directly to them, instead of a funeral home. Bethel Representative Bob Herron sponsored the bill.

“It’s hard on the family because they want closure, they want it done right. And in the past, it’s to no fault of anybody, but the state appeared to be promoting the funeral home business,” said Herron.

Part of that was the documentation for families, which has been changed. Supporters cite stories of people getting stuck with large funeral home bills they couldn’t pay. That’s led to some funeral homes holding the body hostage until they get paid.

Nicholas Hoover is the Social Services Director for Association of Village Council Presidents and works with families in need. He says good communication hasn’t always happened in the past and points to a recent 7-thousand dollar funeral home bill.

“If a family isn’t prepared, they can tack on services like embalming, it’s toxic, and it’s not traditional custom to have a body embalmed. Cosmetics is another…traditionally the family is the one who dresses the body and prepares it for a funeral,” said Hoover.

The law also allows for the possibility of some exams to be done outside of urban areas in a hub like Bethel with video equipment. That could cut down on the approximately 900 cases the medical examiners see annually.

Dr. Gary Zientek is Alaska’s Chief Medical Examiner. He says there are no plans yet to establish a rural examination program and the requirements for a facility and training are steep.

“…Photographs and fingerprints, we have to do a lot of documentation it would be a lot of training. It would probably be possible, but it requires a lot of work before we do that,” said Zientek.

The law would pay for embalming if required by an air carrier and could return the body to places besides the exact location of the death. The Governor also signed resolutions in support of Alaska’s role in national arctic policy and of Recover Alaska’s efforts to reduce excessive alcohol consumption. He spoke at the Bethel Chamber of Commerce.

Fort Yukon Plans New Landfill to Improve Safety, Facilitate More Recycling

Fri, 2014-07-18 17:09

The City of Ft. Yukon plans to build a new landfill. The project is aimed at improving safety and recycling some of the community’s waste stream.

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UAA men's basketball schedule released

Fri, 2014-07-18 17:06
UAA men's basketball schedule released The UAA men's basketball team will play 22 home games during the upcoming season. July 18, 2014

Troopers name officer, suspect in Kenai Peninsula shooting

Fri, 2014-07-18 17:05
Troopers name officer, suspect in Kenai Peninsula shooting Alaska State Troopers named the trooper involved in a Tuesday shooting on the Kenai Peninsula as Eric Jeffords.July 18, 2014

Alaska News Nightly: July 18, 2014

Fri, 2014-07-18 16:52

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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EPA Rolls Out Proposed Restrictions on the Pebble Mine

Mike Mason, KDLG – Dillingham

The EPA has released the details of how they plan to use the Clean Water Act to put in place protections in Bristol Bay from the possible negative impacts of the proposed Pebble Mine.

Alaska Supreme Court Affirms Tribal Court Jurisdiction

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

The Alaska Supreme Court issued a decision today in a long running tribal court jurisdiction case. The case stems from a Minto tribal court decision that terminated parental rights.

State Confirms Rabies in Bat in Southeast Alaska

The Associated Press

State officials have confirmed rabies in a bat in southeast Alaska.

Diomede Helicopter Service Resumes

Matthew Smith, KNOM – Nome

The helicopter to Diomede is flying today. The first flight to the island took off around 11 o’clock Friday morning after a new contract was formally signed by Erickson Aviation, Kawerak and Federal Department of Transportation officials Thursday.

Governor Signs Bill in Bethel to Ease Autopsy Burden

Ben Matheson, KYUK – Bethel

Governor Sean Parnell was in Bethel Thursday to sign a bill intended to help rural families navigate the process of having an autopsy done hundreds of miles away in Anchorage.

Fort Yukon Plans New Landfill to Improve Safety, Facilitate More Recycling

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

The City of Ft. Yukon plans to build a new landfill. The project is aimed at improving safety and recycling some of the community’s waste stream.

AK: Weaving

Annie Bartholomew, KTOO – Juneau

It has long been forbidden for men to weave in the Chilkat tradition, but Tlingit artist Ricky Tagaban is an exception. Using techniques practiced for thousands of years, Tagaban creates his trademark iPhone bags, hair clips, and head bands, putting a modern spin on an ancient tradition.

300 Villages: Dry Creek

This week we’re heading to the tiny Interior village of Dry Creek. Tom Nerbonne runs a saw mill in Dry Creek.

Fallout from NTSB safety recommendations on Ravn Alaska continues

Fri, 2014-07-18 16:50
Fallout from NTSB safety recommendations on Ravn Alaska continues Operating primarily in rural Alaska,​ Hageland Aviation, a division of Ravn Alaska, is the largest scheduled Part 135 passenger carrier in the United States. After a series of accidents and incidents, it faces the fallout from several investigations.July 18, 2014

APOC fines Anchorage Mayor Sullivan for campaign finance law violation

Fri, 2014-07-18 15:39
APOC fines Anchorage Mayor Sullivan for campaign finance law violation The Alaska Public Offices Commission concluded that the Anchorage mayor and lieutenant governor candidate violated campaign finance law by issuing a statement through his municipal spokeswoman apologizing for remarks he made at a candidate forum -- an infraction that rated a fine of less than $200.July 18, 2014

300 Villages: Dry Creek

Fri, 2014-07-18 15:05

This week we’re heading to the tiny Interior village of Dry Creek. Tom Nerbonne runs a saw mill in Dry Creek.

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AK: Weaving

Fri, 2014-07-18 15:03

Ricky Tagaban holds a Chilkat headband he made. (Photo by Annie Bartholomew, KTOO – Juneau)

It has long been forbidden for men to weave in the Chilkat tradition, but Tlingit artist Ricky Tagaban is an exception. Using techniques practiced for thousands of years, Tagaban creates his trademark iPhone bags, hair clips, and head bands, putting a modern spin on an ancient tradition.

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In his living room overlooking the Gastineau Channel in Juneau, Ricky Tagaban is spinning wool and wet cedar bark together on moose hide.

Ricky Tagaban models one of his headbands in his living room. (Photo by Annie Bartholomew, KTOO – Juneau)

The process joins the fibers together creating something called warp which will give Tagaban’s bags their structure. With the big Celebration cultural event just a few days away, Tagaban still has several commissions left to fulfil. Though his finished pieces vary in size and intricacy, they all begin the same way – as cedar bark softening in a crockpot.

“Cooking it is kind of the longest and then I soak the bark in hot water and spin it with the wool and I have to wash it and groom it – and that part’s called grooming your balls and you have to go along and cut all the fluff,” Tagaban said. “And that’s all before weaving.”

Ricky Tagaban spins wool and cedar bark on a moose hide pad to make warp for his pieces. (Photo by Annie Bartholomew, KTOO – Juneau)

Tagaban is weaving in the Chilkat tradition. The textile technique is passed down through Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian families and there are strict rules guiding its practice. Created on an upright loom, Chilkat use abstract shapes and patterns inspired by nature.

Much of what’s known about Chilkat came from the late master weaver Jennie Thlunaut

Juneau weaver Lily Hudson Hope has been practicing both Ravenstail and later Chilkat weaving since she was a teenager.

“I feel that the traditions and the rules and taboos are set there, and they’re there to protect us,” Hope said.

One of the taboos in Chilkat is to never place a human hand in designs. Another is to always cover up your work after you’re finished. But the one that applies to Tagaban is that men can’t weave.

But Hope says there is one exception.

Ricky Tagaban pours out a crock pot that’s been cooking cedar bark for a week. (Photo by Annie Bartholomew, KTOO – Juneau)

“We don’t know why it started or where it started, but when Jennie was teaching my mother and other weavers in 1986, she would scream – ‘we don’t teach men, I don’t teach men, we don’t teach men,’” Hope said. “And then she made the exception that if they’re funny, and she said, ‘If they’re funny, I teach them.’ They’re funny in the way that they’re two spirited.”

By two spirited, Hope means gay. In the summer of 2010 Tagaban was invited to learn from Thlunaut’s apprentice and Hope’s mother, Clarissa Rizal because he fit the tradition, and was identified as someone who could carry it forward.

“I was asked to learn this style of weaving because of my sexual orientation and because it’s a Native art form so learning this and practicing it and really identifying as a weaver had really reconciled my Nativeness and my gayness,” Tagaban said.

A single unfinished Chilkat legging Ricky Tagaban is finishing up for Celebration. (Photo by Annie Bartholomew, KTOO – Juneau)

Since learning Chilkat, Tagaban’s works have become more elaborate and experimental, incorporating more modern materials like shot gun shells. This spring Tagaban was awarded his second Rasmuson grant and one of his iPhone bags appeared on the Red Carpet in Los Angeles at the GLAAD Media awards.

Hope thinks it’s exciting to see the way Tagaban has brought Chilkat to new audiences.

“He’s taken an ancient art form and put it in the hands of the masses in a way that’s revolutionary,” Hope said. “We don’t have to wait for Celebration or cultural gatherings to share our art form with other people.”

Juneau Empire reporter Melissa Griffiths models the Chilkat bag she wore on the Red Carpet at the GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angelos. (Photo by Annie Bartholomew, KTOO – Juneau)

“It’s not just for Tlingit people or just for Haidas or Tsimshian. If you like this and you want to wear this, come have some. Come get it.”

Back at Tagaban’s home studio, he lets me try on a pair of leggings decorated by deer hooves. They’re a work in progress, an old world object with a twist. Embedded in the traditional Chilkat pattern is a small patch of geometric Ravenstail weaving, a hybrid design that’s beginning to gain acceptance in Chilkat weaving.

For Tagaban, harmonizing both aspects, the modern and traditional is important.

“It’s cool to have a really specialized skill but it’s also a lot of pressure,” Tagaban said. “It’s not like we’re saving it, it’s just that we’re holding onto it while we’re here.”

The leggings are almost finished.  Tagaban just has to sew sea otter fur to the tops before he can see them on a dancer at Celebration.

Chilkoot Pass

Fri, 2014-07-18 15:00

Charles Wohlforth (left) and four friends set out to hike the 33-mile Chilkoot Trail on the next Outdoor Explorer.

This week’s Outdoor Explorer comes to you from the Chilkoot Trail, the infamous route used by Klondike gold rushers during the late 1800s. As you walk the trail, signs of that crazy gold rush period are evident, but even more impressive is how a century has erased much of the gold rush’s footprint. Host Charles Wohlforth and friends take on the 33-mile trail over five days of hiking.

HOST: Charles Wohlforth

GUESTS: 

  • Liz Blakely, National Park Service ranger
  • Christine Hedgecock, Parks Canada warden
  • Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, mountain runner and member of Alaska Legislature
  • Hikers Lois Epstein, Suzanne Maynard, John Bourgois and Neil McMahon

PARTICIPATE: Facebook: Outdoor Explorer (comments may be read on-air)

BROADCAST: Thursday, July 24, 2014, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. AKDT

REPEAT BROADCAST:  Thursday, July 24, 2014, 9:00 – 10:00 p.m. AKDT

SUBSCRIBE: Receive Outdoor Explorer automatically every week via

Go to OUTDOOREXPLORER.ORG

Audio to be posted following broadcast