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KNBA News - Shell Arctic drilling okayed; Diomede villagers to renew ties with Russian relatives

Aug. 18, 2015
Arctic offshore drilling gets federal approval
The federal government has given Royal Dutch Shell the final permit it needs to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska's northwest coast for the first time in more than two decades. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement says exploratory drilling can go ahead after the oil giant brought in a required piece of equipment to stop a possible well blowout in the Chukchi Sea.
Little Diomede villagers to renew ties severed in the late 1940s by the Cold War
Residents of a tiny Alaska village are trying to resurrect ties with relatives or descendants of people who used to live on a neighboring Russian island before they were forced to relocate at the start of the Cold War.
National Park Service grants totaling more than $83,000 are funding the project involving residents of Diomede on Little Diomede Island. Less than 3 miles away is Big Diomede Island, but it is strictly off-limits, patrolled by Russian border guards.
The attempt to visit Russia's Chukotka region is being coordinated by a travel company, Anchorage-based Circumpolar Expeditions.
Company president Tandy Wallack says one goal is to travel to Chukotka communities with Diomede elders next year to visit relatives. Another goal is to host a reunion in Little Diomede.
Ketchikan children learn Tlingit, Haida traditions
by Madelyn Beck, KRBD - Ketchikan
Last week, the Ketchikan Indian Community put on a day camp for kids to teach them about Native culture through stories, songs, crafts and even foraging tips. Kids aged 4-16 met at KIC’s two locations along Deermount and Stedman streets, where they learned traditional Native practices, sometimes with a few modern twists, like using pressure cookers.
On the third day, a group of about 25 kids were taught how to can fish properly to avoid bacteria that most kids hadn’t heard of: botulism.
“You can’t taste it, you can’t smell it. It can damage your insides. Does anybody have a story that they’ve heard of a loved one that might have passed away from botulism? I know I’ve got them. Yeah, so we have to be really careful.”
They went outside and were shown how to fillet a salmon and pack it into a jar before loading it into a pressure cooker.
“This is my personal choice for doing fillets. So you just take your knife and get a feel like it’s up against the backbone. And you feel it going through the rib bones.”
“Poor fish.”
Meanwhile, another group was inside crafting headbands, cedar bark bracelets, and transformation masks.
“What are you guys working on over here?
“Uh, transformation masks. It’s like showing an animal turning into a man, like the spirits.”
In groups, they sang Native songs and listened to the stories behind them.
Starla Agoney is helping with culture week, and says she thinks it’s an important tool for Native and non-Native kids alike as they grow up in this community.
“I think the mission is to have pride in who they are and to connect with other children their ages and they just get to know each other and even get to know adults that they can trust and can come to when they need to. I think they get a lot out of learning about their culture and the culture around them.”

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