All eyes are on the nation’s July 4 birthday, but the date also marks the anniversary of an Alaska tradition. Seward’s Mt. Marathon race, which takes place July 4 turns 100 years old this year. The race is a one of a kind, grueling, uphill run, and now it is the subject of a documentary film aimed at putting a face on the men and women who take the challenge.
Every year dozens of boats travel back to Bristol Bay. Some ride on tenders or cargo ships, and some steam themselves around False Pass, a journey of more than 1000 miles that can be treacherous. But about 60 boats, most from Homer and Kodiak, take a different route across the Chigmit Mountains on the Alaska Peninsula. KDLG’s Molly Dischner tagged along with a captain and crew bringing their 32-foot drift boat back to the Bay after a winter of maintenance in Homer.
Alaska Fish and Game is stepping up its research on bats in Southeast. The nocturnal, bug-eating animal is being threatened in the Lower 48 by a disease called White-Nose Syndrome. That’s prompting Alaska researchers to find out which bats live here and where they roost. But they can’t do all the work by themselves, so they’re enlisting the public’s help.
Right now the tundra and forests of Bristol Bay are exploding with flora. While many foragers have already supped on fiddlehead ferns and are looking forward to wild berry picking, some may overlook the traditional medicinal uses of many Alaskan plants. Two Dillingham women set out to capture the benefits of these native plants in a line of homemade bath products – they call it “Tundra Love.”
It’s graduation season for Alaska’s high school seniors. Earning a diploma marks a milestone in a person’s life. And for one Juneau student, that milestone is especially sweet after his high school experience was interrupted with several trips to juvenile detention.
Imagine you arrive in a world where it rains all year round, and daylight swings from 17 hours in summertime to a paltry six in winter. And you’re only seven years old. That’s the situation Jasmine Molina found herself when she first got to Sitka, over 5,000 miles from her native city of Manila in the Philippines. Sitka’s Filipino population has grown substantially in the past five years, but there remains no formal system to help new students transition to school. That is, until Jasmine came to town.
Have you ever thought about biking one hundred miles in one go? KSKA’s Anne Hillman did, so she signed up for the Clean Air Challenge. It’s a bike ride the American Lung Association hosts every year to raise money for education and research on lung disease. At first Anne was in it more for the challenge of the ride than for the cause. But then something happened along the way.
If you didn’t hear the rendition of the Alaska Flag Song by a Japanese choral ensemble last week at Anchorage’s Alaska Performing Arts Center, you missed something special. The finale of the musical play, “Samurai Musher” brought the audience to its feet to sing along with the cast. The play told the story of Japanese musher Jujiro Wada, and although the curtain has come down on the play, Wada’s story is still unfolding.
A group in Kodiak recently completed an Alutiiq boat that was last seen in the mid-19th century. Alutiiq people once used the angyaq to travel over long distances and through rough seas. It’s an open boat, like a dory, with a flat bottom and bulbous bow.
The artist leading the effort says the boat builders aren’t just recreating the past. They’re reviving a piece of Alutiiq history for use now and in the future.
The Sitka Sentinel celebrated its 75th anniversary last year without much fanfare. As many newspapers in big cities have folded or turned into online only operations, the Sentinel steadily churns out five issues a week. The paper is owned and edited by Thad and Sandy Poulson, reporters who arrived in 1969 and are determined to keep the press running.
This spring, Sitka artist Peter Williams took a trip to New York City, to show his work during fashion week. A designer and marine mammal hunter, Williams makes everything from hats to earrings from sea otter and sealskin. He’s been trying to break into the lucrative fashion world for years, and he’s got a larger goal in mind – bringing Alaska Native designs to luxury buyers worldwide. Williams says that one way to save a traditional art form, is to create a market for it.
More than 90 languages are spoken in Anchorage. And one resident is trying to learn – and teach – about every single one as part of a new podcast. KSKA’s Anne Hillman found out the project comes from his desire to discover the diversity of his own background.
Ricci Adan is a performing artist in Juneau. Locals know her as an actor, dance teacher and choreographer, most recently of Perseverance Theatre’s “Chicago.”
What people may not know is that in 1981, her husband Richard Adan was killed – stabbed on the streets of New York City by a released convict who was a protégé of Pulitzer Prize winning writer Norman Mailer.
The murder trial was highly publicized. But, Adan is just beginning to tell her side of the story.
Feasts, jousting, and medieval dress are just your average afternoon for members of the Society for Creative Anachronism. Participants are dedicated to researching and recreating the arts and culture of pre-17th century Europe. KBBI’s Shady Grove Oliver joined the Alaska contingent for its annual Bi-Baronial Collegium in Wasilla and reports it’s about values, family, and finding a place to fit in.
Samuel Johns grew up in the community of Copper Center surrounded by drugs and alcohol. After years of struggling with alcoholism, he is now sober and trying to make it as a musician who blends Athabascan culture with modern hip hop. Johns is traveling to villages across the state to perform and talk about living a drug free life. And it’s a message that seems to be resonating with kids in Dillingham.
There are a bazillion blogs these days but what does it take to write one people will actually read? Juneau writer Libby Bakalar has figured out the formula with her blog “One Hot Mess.” Bakalar mixes it up when she writes- using humor, self-deprecation, social media and even a Stephen Colbert-like character to connect with her audience. Her most-read post, titled “Alaska Airlines-to-English Dictionary,” received more than 8,000 hits, and the blog is getting national attention too. Boston’s Women in Comedy Festival has asked Bakalar to submit to their blog.
This year 78 mushers are signed up to drive dog teams in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, but only a third of them are women. In the Yukon Quest, only 3 of 26 mushers who started this year were women. Despite the small numbers, many are up-and-coming mushers who are redefining what it means to run dogs.
Pacific halibut are one of Alaska’s most valuable fish, but we know surprisingly little about what happens to the species during an important time in their life – their spawning period. Amanda Compton caught up with a study in Glacier Bay focused on just how halibut spawn using a special type of tracking equipment.
James Hoagland is in the business of wigs. Not just your ordinary costume and fashion wigs – his are specifically for drag queens. He spends hours styling hair and stitching it into wig caps. Last year, he sold 300 mostly to clients in the Lower 48 and internationally.
The Yukon Quest International Sled Dog race starts Saturday. For more than 30 years, the race course has followed an old Gold Rush era trail that took advantage of the frozen Yukon River. But recently, there have been places where the river hasn’t frozen up. That’s starting to raise question about the impacts of climate change on Alaska’s state sport.