Alaska Native magistrate judge brings tribal court skills to Petersburg bench

Sep 18, 2019

The top tribal judge for the Tlingit and Haida Tribal Court, Debra O’Gara, is the new magistrate judge for three small communities in Southeast Alaska: Petersburg, Wrangell and Kake

O’Gara hopes the transition will help build bridges between the tribal and state court systems.

Debra O’Gara is working late on a Wednesday evening. She’s at the Courthouse in downtown Petersburg trying to figure out how the place works.

Alaska village of Nanwalek is rapidly running out of water

Sep 16, 2019

A Kenai Peninsula village is rapidly running out of water. Low snowpack and little rainfall has led Nanwalek to declare a water emergency.

The predominantly Alutiiq village on the southern tip of the Kenai Peninsula is only accessible by air and water. Priscilla Evans said the roughly 55 households are getting desperate as the village’s reservoir is poised to run out.

“We never made a plan for this kind of emergency for the water,” she said. “So hopefully the state is going to help us out.”

Community dealing with erosion gets some outside help

Sep 13, 2019

The village of Akiak has submitted its hazard mitigation plan to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. That makes Akiak eligible for the larger-than-usual hazard mitigation funding that Alaska has available this year, due to the Nov. 2018 earthquake in the southcentral part of the state. But how did Akiak know to take advantage of that? They had some unique help.

Southeast’s landless tribal communities want to form five new village corporations out of 115,000 acres of Tongass National Forest. The effort has new cash and — it says — the right political climate in Washington to finally get it done.

The 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act allotted millions of acres of land to 13 regional Native corporations. But some tribal communities in Southeast were left out of the process.

Balash takes job with oil company that seeks big Alaska project

Sep 10, 2019

A high-level Alaskan appointee in the Trump administration who pushed to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil leasing -- is taking a job with an oil company that seeks to develop a major project in Alaska.

Joe Balash is an assistant secretary at the Interior Department who oversaw the Bureau of Land Management. He left his job without saying whether he had taken a new job elsewhere

DeVos, Sullivan respond to questions on erosion threatened schools

Sep 10, 2019

Alaska’s U.S. Senators accompanied Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on an August trip to communities around the state. The tour marked DeVos’ first visit to Alaska as a member of President Trump’s cabinet. The group visited schools in Wasilla, Kotzebue, Nome, and Kivalina. Kivalina is one of the Alaskan communities most threatened by erosion.

Middle school and high school teachers in Juneau last week learned how to weave — literally weave — Northwest Coast art into math lessons.

Brita Steinberger had her hands full, weaving a small basket using a mix of traditional — and less traditional — materials:

“This is spruce root here, and this is cedar bark right there,” she explained. “This is a tomato paste can with tape around it.”

It’s well known that traumatic experiences can have lifelong impacts on health and well-being. But it’s possible that those effects can last longer than a single lifetime. A new study asks whether the effects of trauma have been passed down genetically in Tlingit families in Hoonah.

Petersburg brothers demonstrate Tlingit way of processing a seal

Sep 4, 2019

The Petersburg Indian Association held a four-day cultural camp in Petersburg. The event was open to all members of the community and offered a chance to learn about wild food harvesting, Native language, and traditional technology, among other things.

The camp kicked off with a unique demonstration that was not for the faint of stomach.