Addressing the widespread use of violence against Alaska Native women was one of the dominating topics at the 2019 Alaska Federation of Natives convention. But this year, there was also a call, echoed from elders all the way up to U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, for men to step up and do better.

Some young men shared what they learned from a talking circle during this year’s Elders and Youth conference.

Dunleavy promises to work with Alaska Tribes over education

Oct 22, 2019

Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced that he will propose legislation that recognizes tribal authority over education in their communities. He made the announcement last week at the Alaska Federation of Natives annual convention in Fairbanks. 

Sandra Kowalski, an Inupiaq from Kotzebue and Buckland, sits on the Alaska State Board of Education. She says that this announcement is just the first step.

Calista board chooses CIRI exec over Ana Hoffman In AFN co-chair vote

Oct 22, 2019

Bethel Native Corporation CEO Ana Hoffman has again been elected co-chair of the Alaska Federation of Natives during the final day of its annual convention Oct. 19. Hoffman has served as co-chair since 2013, but the board of the Calista Corporation, the regional native corporation for the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, cast their vote for another candidate.

NOAA, Savoonga track Pacific cod during collaboration

Oct 22, 2019

Researchers and Western Alaskans alike want to know more about Pacific cod’s movements as they swim from the Southern Bering Sea into the Northern. In a unique collaboration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries worked with fishermen in Savoonga to tag and track cod within the drastically changing Bering Sea ecosystem.

At the 2019 Elders and Youth Conference, the running theme is “Language is Our Superpower." The elder keynote speaker Sally Tugidm Ayagaa Swetzof (Unangax̂) talked about the importance of keeping Unangam Tunuu alive.

Swetzof was born before Alaska gained statehood. Growing up in Atka, Unangam Tunuu was her first language.

“It wsa the language always spoken at home and in the village when I was growing up,” she said from the mainstage. “Nobody spoke English unless they were talking to the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) teachers or some other non-speakers.”

In Interior Alaska, Athabascan fiddle music is a staple at social gatherings. At the 2019 Elders and Youth conference, elders taught young people how to dance the signature style – called jigging. Gwich'in fiddle player Jerry Frank originally learned to play the guitar, but when older fiddle players passed on – he took up the instrument that’s a signature of Athabascan jigging – a style of square-dancing folk music.

Biologists say early retreating sea ice is potentially causing vegetation productivity changes on the tundra across Alaska and the Arctic

Uma Bhatt, a climate variability expert with the University of Alaska–Fairbanks, says the land warms up more quickly when sea ice recedes earlier than usual.

Two whale researchers are raising concern over Hilcorp’s activities in lower Cook Inlet. The company is using air guns to explore the area for oil and gas. But the researchers say it will cause irreversible damage to whales and other marine wildlife.

Biologist Olga von Ziegesar played a recording of seismic air gun blasts coming from Hilcorp. She recorded the underwater noise a few miles away from the company’s vessel.

Kensington Mine eyes federal permit for expansion

Oct 7, 2019

One of Alaska’s largest gold mines seeks to extend its life by a decade.

The Kensington Mine is one of Southeast Alaska’s biggest private employers. Chicago-based Coeur Mining wants to invest in an expansion to extend operations at least through 2034.

Utqiagvik voters overwhelmingly reject soda tax

Oct 7, 2019

Early results show voters in the city of Utqiagvik rejecting a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.

An ordinance on the city’s ballot would have instituted a 1 cent per ounce tax on the sales of sodas, energy drinks and other sugary drinks.

The tax sought to discourage the consumption of these drinks, citing high levels of obesity, diabetes and tooth decay among rural Alaskans, particularly Alaska Natives.