Black Friday kicks off the rush of holiday shopping, and its also given rise to a fraternal twin of sorts, Cyber Monday. But there’s one place you might not expect online retail to be turning into a fact of life: Bush Alaska.
Each fall, thousands of bald eagles flock to a stretch of the Chilkat River about 20 miles north of Haines. The birds fly there for a late chum salmon run. It’s thought to be the largest gathering of eagles in the world. Dozens of people travel to witness the raptors each year, filling up almost every hotel room in Haines.
Dancing can be a celebration, an expression of joy or sorrow, or a way to tell a story. For one man in Sitka, it’s a way to teach people about his Native culture and values, and to carry on his tradition. With elders in the community growing older or already gone, he says it’s his responsibility to learn and pass along the teachings to the younger generation so they grow up proud to be Tlingit.
Surgeons these days have a lot of futuristic tools at their disposal in the operating room. They use robots, high definition cameras and special dyes to help them complete complicated procedures. And you don’t have to travel to big cities in the Lower 48 to find the most up to date operating room technology.
A trip to the coast usually means you’re going to see sea stars, but a mysterious disease is killing them along the West Coast. There had been a few reports of sick sea stars in Alaska, but recently in Sitka, the first mass die offs in the state were detected. Scientists in Sitka are tracking the progress.
On AK we often travel to wild and strange places and meet the people who live there. Today’s journey is no different, except the place is inside each of us. Earlier this year Sitka had a tarot card reader in residence. The Tarot, it turns out, is mystical — but not magic. Like professional therapy, it’s really about looking into a mirror, as tarot skeptic Robert Woolsey discovers.
The sport is usually associated with steroids, spray tans and bizarrely bulging muscles, but for some competitors in Alaska, drug-free bodybuilding isn’t about vanity, it’s about therapy.
After 24 years as an Army Ranger and a grueling tour in Afghanistan, Frank Loomis retired, joined the police and started having a mid-life crisis. His solution? Start training with Mr. Alaska. KSKA’s Anne Hillman followed Loomis from training to his first masters level competition.
Alaska writers and naturalists Richard Nelson and Hank Lentfer are nearing the end of a two-year project recording the “Voices of Glacier Bay.” The project is a collaboration between Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, University of Alaska Southeast and Cornell University, which houses the world’s largest collection of natural sounds. Nelson and Lentfer hope to change how others experience the world through a dimension beyond what we can see. They want us to listen and listen closely.
Over the past several decades, there’s been a renaissance in Alaska Native traditional dancing. KNBA’s Joaqlin Estus recently visited with one of the founders of an Inupiaq dance group in Anchorage, who told her about his personal journey toward tradition.
In business the general rule is cut costs and raise revenue wherever possible. A company in Homer partially ignores this tenet to provide compostable and recyclable products to environmentally conscious businesses. For Loopy Lupine and its customers, the trade off is a fair one in favor of a smaller carbon footprint.
In a forested area outside of Fairbanks, the U.S. Army operates a remote facility where it trains military servicemen and women in cold, mountainous environments. It’s called the Northern Warfare Training Center. And in August, they hosted an elite unit of Army Rangers.
It’s hard not to dream big among the tall mountains and wild sea in Southeast Alaska – especially in Haines where Christy Tengs serves dreamers and misfits alike in her family’s downtown institution, the Pioneer Bar and Bamboo Room. Even she has a dream – to meet the famous person who has inspired her and propelled her to become a star in her hometown.
Its prime time for gardens in Alaska and there are plenty of plants and veggies that thrive this far north. Basil, though, is not one of them – it needs more heat and sun – two things that are especially hard to find in the Southeast rainforest of Juneau. But two local guys have figured out a unique way to bring basil to the masses.
In 2011, members of the Alaska Peacemakers Militia were arrested for conspiracy to commit murder. The trial of their leader, Schaeffer Cox, continually made headlines in the years that followed, most of them bad. Now, other militia groups in the state are trying to show a different side to the movement.
It’s peak season for farmer’s markets across the country right now. Food is typically grown in a rural setting. But one Southeast Alaskan couple is taking that to the extreme. They live in a completely off-the-grid location in a place without cell phone coverage or roads. And they have to be inventive to get the produce to market.
There are more than 100 people employed at Ketchikan’s Vigor Industrial Shipyard. Out of all of them, Cat Wong might have the most unusual story about how she got there. The 25-year-old is a pipe fitter and welder. She was born in the U.S., but grew up with her family in Singapore. When she was 21, Cat made an unusual choice, and moved to Ketchikan.
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.
For naturalist Steve Merli, bear education isn’t just about staying alive. The way he sees it, knowing how to behave in bear country allows Alaskans to explore wilderness more deeply.
Merli works with Discovery Southeast, a Juneau organization that connects kids with nature programs.
Earlier this month, KTOO’s Lisa Phu joined campers for a lesson that had some questioning their assumptions about bear encounters.