It takes a different kind of person to live in Whittier, Alaska. The town is accessible only by water or by tunnel, the weather is extreme, and the only housing option is an ugly apartment building. But the community has managed to win over grade school teacher Erika Thompson.
Alaska Public Media video producer Travis Gilmour spent a day with Thompson and found out life in this one-building town is unique, even by Alaska’s standards.
Like many other indigenous languages, Tlingit is in survival mode. Revitalizing the language was the focus of this year’s Tlingit Tribes and Clans Conference held in Juneau last week. A Juneau resident has one solution for how to keep the language alive. During a conference session, realtor and assemblyman Carlton Smith gave participants a lesson in how to teach Tlingit to children with puppets. And he does it with the help of a special guest.
Outside room 119 at Juneau-Douglas High School, a sheet of paper taped to the wall says, “FOG MACHINE IN USE.” It’s the Friday before Halloween, and the usually no-nonsense control room and JDTV News anchor desk is dressed with spider webs, skeletons, jack-o-lanterns, black lights, and strobes.
The Alaska Federation of Natives Convention is focused on serious issues and politics. But one of the most popular attractions at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks is a massive ten filled with Native arts and crafts. The vendors’ tent offers a lot of traditional works, with a few surprises.
For one month each fall, Interior residents wade into the crystal clear waters of the Chatanika River to catch whitefish. They spawn in the fall, unlike other fish in Alaska. The state limits both the number of permits and the harvest. This isn’t your typical fishery. Instead of rods and reels, or nets, fishermen use spears.
As in many small towns in Alaska, there are no babies delivered in Wrangell’s hospital. Expectant mothers have to leave town to give birth. When they return, there aren’t many services to help them adjust to life with a new baby. Hannah’s Place is a non-profit that provides free courses for expecting couples and new parents. In exchange for taking these classes, parents have access to a “free” store that has nearly everything an infant needs.
For more than 30 years, Dan Magone has run around Alaska bailing out vessels in distress. In the process, he’s developed a multimillion-dollar marine salvage business – and a reputation. Magone is a daredevil to some, and a savior to others. But now, he’s the one being saved. Facing rising debt, Magone is selling his shop in Unalaska to a larger company. It’s enough to keep the lights on, but it’s going to be a big adjustment for the man at the center of Alaska’s salvage industry.
It’s football season in Alaska. The sport continues to gain popularity in the 49th state, where the first official high school football championship game was played less than 25 years ago. But in Alaska and nationally concerns over football’s safety have grown, and more and more parents are refusing to let their children play youth football because of the risk of injury. Football officials at all levels have responded by trying to make the game safer.
In June, the Keku Cannery in Kake was named one of the 11 most endangered historic places in the country by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The building is an artifact of Alaska’s salmon canning industry and its a reminder of the different people that worked there.
It’s one of the few sports that most Alaskans haven’t tried in the state. Our water is freezing, our beaches are rocky and there aren’t many places to catch good waves. But none of that kept Anchorage resident Robert Stormo from attempting a daring surfing adventure along Turnagain Arm.
This week on AK: We go fishing. A group of four female soldiers spent a weekend last month on the Naknek river. The weather was gorgeous, the fish were biting, and the company was unmatched at the Project Healing Waters retreat. Through the program, the fishing community and veterans organizations hope to help injured veterans in their long recovery. KDLG’s Ben Matheson takes us out on the water.
The Chilkat Valley near Haines in Southeast is known as the Valley of the Eagles. But some residents are trying to bring the valley back to its roots, literally. Agriculture is making a comeback in the where longtime resident George Campbell believes he has the largest crop of garlic in the state this year.
One of the most rapid and successful invasions of a continent did not happen in any war. It’s happening now – maybe right outside your window. The Eurasian collared dove first came to North America in Florida in 1982, and was seen in Alaska as early as 2009. Experts say the dove represents no threat to the environment or native species. But it is changing how Alaska sounds.
Dotting the coast line of Cook Inlet from Ninilchik to Nikiski are some of the Kenai Peninsula’s oldest businesses. Many of these commercial fish camps are still owned and operated by the families that started them two or three generations ago. KDLL’s Shaylon Cochran has a closer look at the family traditions that are at the center of the culture of setnetting.
The Organized Village of Kake is a small tribal community on the northwest side of Kupreanof Island. Like many villages this time of year, they just hosted a culture camp, a week of teaching Native youth about traditional food gathering and processing. But during this week of hunting, smoking, and canning, there are a few bigger health issues being addressed too.
For most Americans, local weather information comes from a variety of high-tech instruments. There’s Doppler radar, digital thermometers and barometers, satellite images, weather buoys and more. But in Port Alexander, a small Southeast community, the daily weather report depends on two human beings.