A shortage of poll workers caused the state Division of Elections to close polling places in a half-dozen small Alaska communities for Tuesday’s primary election.

A spokesperson said despite raising the hourly rate for the temporary workers, the division was unable to overcome fears about the spread of coronavirus.

Elections officials made the announcement late Monday, a little more than 12 hours before polls opened, that there would only be absentee in-person voting in the communities of Arctic Village, Port Lions, Kake, Takotna, Cold Bay and Nunam Iqua.

Results from a long-anticipated audit of the Nome Police Department have now been pushed back indefinitely.

The Nome Common Council discussed public safety updates during their regular meeting and learned that a report from a November 2019 audit of NPD still hasn’t been furnished.

Russell Consulting visited Nome last year to externally review policing procedures, evidence collection, and other departmental issues as part of a department-wide audit. Nearly ten months later, Nome City Manager Glenn Steckman says nothing has materialized.

The Federal Subsistence Board OK’d an emergency hunt in Kake. Now it faces legal challenges.

Aug 17, 2020

The State of Alaska is filing a lawsuit in federal court alleging the U.S. Office of Subsistence Management has overstepped its authority

Who’s looking out for Elders on the Navajo Nation?

Aug 14, 2020

A reporter documents lack of food and harsh conditions for many Diné elderly, and few willing to take responsibility.

(This is an essay written by Diné journalist Sunnie R. Clahchischiligi. This story was originally published by Searchlight New Mexico and is republished here by permission. The photos in the original story were black-and-white, and so are republished here likewise.)

Why biologists fear Pebble could risk Bristol Bay salmon’s resilience

Aug 14, 2020

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ final environmental review of Pebble says that under normal operations, it does not expect the mine to have a significant effect on fish populations in Bristol Bay. But the Corps does say the mine would harm fish around the mine site. Some scientists say the project could also put a specific salmon population in the Koktuli River at risk and remove genetic diversity from the region.

COVID-19 concerns limit access to preventative care for rural women

Aug 13, 2020

The traveling breast cancer screening unit that serves Southeast Alaska won’t be visiting small communities this year, due to COVID-19. For some communities, that means some women won’t receive their annual breast exam. 

As part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, congress appropriated $100 million earlier this year to help tribes cope with housing and sanitation issues during the coronavirus pandemic. The funding will help some Southeast Alaska communities combat existing issues that the pandemic has only made worse.

Northwest Arctic Borough residents have dealt with reductions in air travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic, due in part to a bankruptcy of the bush air carrier Ravn Alaska. Seattle-based Alaska Airlines also saw economic trouble which impacted their established passenger service to Kotzebue.

Fairbanks North Star Borough to review options for Carlson Center

Aug 10, 2020

A community online forum asked residents for their opinions about the future of the Carlson Center. The contract with the current management company is ending. The Fairbanks North Star Borough will review options for the big arena and convention space on the riverbank in Fairbanks.

The dominant user of the Carlson Center has been the University of Alaska Fairbanks hockey team, whose scheduling of the ice for practices and games has determined much of how the facility has been used. That dominance turns out to be a common gripe among folks who participated in the community forum.

On July 27, the U.S. Department of Interior announced it will open its first office dedicated to investigating cold cases in what has been called an epidemic of Murdered and Missing Indigenous People. There will be seven of these offices nationwide.