Above the Arctic Circle in Alaska, a half-day's journey by snowmobile from the nearest paved road or tree, a village called Kivalina sits on a slip of permanently frozen earth bracketed by water — a lagoon on one side and the Chukchi Sea on the other. Everything on Kivalina is hard: there are no roads, few jobs, and rising waters that will soon swallow the island whole. But life can get better if the villagers catch a whale. It hasn't happened since 1994, but that's no reason to give up. This just might be the year. [more inside]
Lituya Bay is a narrow fjord on the southeast coast of Alaska. In the early 1950s, a geologist found evidence that seemed to indicate tsunamis had occurred there in the past, but of seemingly impossible size. Then in 1958, an earthquake showed what a mega-tsunami was really like....
Jason Garcia, who also goes by Okuu Pin (Tewa for Turtle Mountain, the name for Sandia Mountain) is a traditional clay artist from Santa Clara Pueblo in New Mexico, except his art isn't strictly traditional. His work is his effort to document the ever-changing cultural landscape of Santa Clara (8 minute interview and overview of his art), as seen in his 'Tewa Tales,' clay tiles painted as silver-age covers, depicting the Pueblo Revolt and the colonization of New Mexico. For more, see Jason Garcia's short bio video for North American Native Museum (Nordamerika Native Museum) in Zurich, Switzerland, for a past exhibition titled "Native Art Now." Vimeo user Dylan McLaughlin/Invisible Laboratory has 10 more short bio videos from other artists in the exhibit. [more inside]
How Did People Migrate to the Americas? Bison DNA Helps Chart the Way [The New York Times] “Two teams of scientists have succeeded in dating the opening of the gateway to America, only to disagree over whether the Clovis people — one of the first groups from Siberia to reach the Americas — ever used the gateway to gain access to the New World.” [more inside]
The bears are back on cam! 24/7 live coverage of Alaskan brown bears fishing the sockeye salmon run on Brooks River in Katmai National Park.
Alaska is Having Its Hottest Year Since Records Began - "After a spring that was a full ten degrees hotter than normal, the northern state is on track for the most sweltering year on record." (via) [more inside]
While he may "struggle at poetry" Alaska trial lawyer Phillip Weidner has built an epically poetic 185 foot log cabin tower in Talkeetna Alaska. Called the Dr. Seuss House, its actual name is the Goose Creek Tower. Previously only visible by air it's now documented by Great Big Story with the short-but-lovely video We're Not In Whoville Anymore. [via]
The March 1st round of voting in US primaries and caucuses is today. Since 1988, no candidate has won his party’s nomination without winning Super Tuesday. With early voting and absentee voting already happening, the people of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virginia will turn out for both Republicans and Democrats. Republicans in Alaska will hold caucuses, as will Democrats in Colorado. Democrats in American Samoa also nominate. On the Republican side, with 661 delegates to be allocated today, Donald Trump currently holds the delegate lead. On the Democrat side, with 865 delegates to be delegated today, Hillary Clinton currently holds the delegate lead. (A more visual delegate tracker) The actual POTUS election odds continue to make Hillary the favorite, from Donald with the rest at long odds. Politico has more information on today, as does the Wall Street Journal and 538. With variable weather for voters, Nate Silver being cautious about assumptions and Obama's surprise endorsement of Trump, it's all to play for.
The Race to Alaska: the rules are simple: captain a boat from Port Townsend to Ketchikan along the Inside Passage of British Columbia, with no motors and no support. Don’t get eaten by a bear. The first boat wins $10,000 cash. The runner-up gets a set of steak knives. [more inside]
Bigg's Killer Whales, formerly 'transients', eat marine mammals like dolphins, porpoises, seals and sea lions, and other whales. But sometimes they eat the occasional land mammal as well... From The Marine Detective
How Obama Let Big Oil Drill in the Pristine Alaska Wilderness. Alec MacGillis (of ProPublica) writing in Politico Magazine (Dec. 21, 2015), shows how one well-connected man (and big lobbying money) can really make a difference. [more inside]
In the late 1970s, a bicycle mechanic named Lee Post moved to Homer, Alaska to run a small bookstore with his mother. He also volunteered at the town's natural history museum, where he took on the task of assembling a beaked whale skeleton.This is the story of how a bookseller from Homer, Alaska became the an international animal skeleton re-assembly expert (Bay Nature). [more inside]
Post thought, well, I've repaired bikes — surely I can repair a whale skeleton if I have a book to follow, and conveniently, I run a bookstore. He searched for any books about reconstructing whale skeletons. “There was no such thing,” he says.
Mary Maley records her recent encounter with a bear in Berg Bay, Alaska. Despite her cajoling and her persistent attempts to reason with it, the bear insists on destroying Mary's kayak, even after she has pointed out that the kayak is made of plastic, does not taste good, and offers no nutritional value. The bear ignores Mary's repeated requests to explain its actions and throughout the incident Mary fails to connect the bear's actions to the stimulus that immediately preceded it. Bears everywhere know exactly why this bear is destroying Mary's kayak. [more inside]
The Fort of Young Saplings: Vanessa Veselka writes about family, the ownership of stories, and the meaning of military victory (or its absence) in the context of her father's adoption by the Kiks.ádi. (Veselka previously and previously, caution on the latter for sexual violence.)
When you’re alone in a cabin in the Alaskan wilderness, the simplest question becomes the most complicated: How do you fill a day?
President Obama recently made a somewhat historical visit to the State of Alaska. While there, he posted a travelogue, met an adorable husky puppy, talked about the very real threat of climate change, but mostly just got jiggy with it.
Mount McKinley Will Again Be Called Denali [New York Times]
President Obama announced on Sunday that Mount McKinley was being renamed Denali, restoring an Alaska Native name with deep cultural significance to the tallest mountain in North America. The move came on the eve of Mr. Obama’s trip to Alaska, where he will spend three days promoting aggressive action to combat climate change, and is part of a series of steps meant to address the concerns of Alaska Native tribes. The central Alaska mountain has been called Mount McKinley for more than a century. In announcing that Sally Jewell, the secretary of the interior, had used her power to rename it, Mr. Obama was paying tribute to the state’s Native population, which has referred to the site for generations as Denali, meaning “the high one” or “the great one.”
"The twins’ mother, Sandra King, held her sons tightly, then returned to her post at the Grant Aviation ticket counter. She said she’d be joining them in California later. The rest of the family went out to the tarmac. Kremer was left leaning against an educational display detailing the natural wonders of the Izembek Lagoon. “Well,” he said. “I guess I’m the last kid in Cold Bay.”
Shared Prosperity, Common Wealth, National Equity and a Citizen's Dividend: Nirit Peled takes a look at social experiments in basic incomes for VPRO Tegenlicht, a Dutch public television documentary series. Starting with a German crowdfunded UBI chosen by raffle -- kind of like the opposite of Le Guin's Omelas (or Shirley Jackson's Lottery in reverse) -- the focus moves on to Albert Wenger who wants to disconnect work from income not only as automation progresses but to accelerate the process. Then it's on to Guy Standing who has conducted basic income experiments in India and Namibia (pdf) and is trying to get one off the ground in Groningen (Utrecht apparently is also a go). Finally, a stop in Alaska to ask some of its residents about their views on the state-owned Permanent Fund. This last part brings to mind the question: just what is wealth anyway? [more inside]
Bush pilots in Alaska rely on planes that can get them in and out of just about anywhere that has a bare patch of ground. During the off-season, they (and pilots from around the rest of the US) meet up for the annual Valdez Fly In. [more inside]
The Local Eyes Project is an effort to explore the Americas through the eyes of 12 local residents in Canada, the United States, Peru, Bolivia and Brazil, by sending them a disposable camera and asking them to take "travel photos." [more inside]
Comparing photographs of glaciers from the 1920's to today: Repeat photography is a technique in which a historical photograph and a modern photograph, both having the same field of view, are compared and contrasted to quantitatively and qualitatively determine their similarities and differences. The following sections depict how this technique was used at a number of locations in Alaska... to document and understand changes to glaciers and landscapes as a result of changing climate. [more inside]
An update to an update to Into The Wild.
Erika Thompson teaches grade school in Whittier, Alaska, a town where most people live and work in one building, and is only accessible by a miles-long tunnel with limited hours. [slyt]
Democrat and Independent merge campaigns in Alaska governor’s race The Democratic nominee for governor of Alaska and an independent candidate announced Tuesday that they have merged their campaigns, marking the beginning of an unprecedented political alliance in the state that could put a Republican-held seat in play this fall.
One Generation’s Time: The Legacy of Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes (YouTube, 1 hour). The story of two activists who fought to improve the lives of Filipino workers in Alaskan canneries, their murders by members of a street gang, and the eight-year investigation that ultimately found Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos responsible for their deaths. [more inside]
"No one knew who killed (13 year-old) Mackenzie Howard that cold February night last year — and people were terrified that the killer was still in their midst. But in the remote community of Kake, only accessible by air or boat, there was no law enforcement officer."
"On June 3 and 4, 1942, Japanese military forces conducted air strikes on U.S. Army and Navy facilities at Dutch Harbor, in what is now the city of Unalaska. Several days later, they occupied Kiska and Attu islands, the latter the location of an Unangax village. Within a short time, the 42 Unangax residents of Attu and a non-Native teacher were taken to Japan, where they served as laborers for the Japanese for the duration of the war ... For the Unangax [or Aleut] of most other villages, World War II brought a different fate:" internment camps in the United States [more inside]
I see the internet looking at me. Just like last year and the year before, you can once again stare at bears staring at water as they wait for salmon to swim upstream in Katmai National Park. [more inside]
My Militia Weekend, in which a left-leaning blogger visits the 3rd Annual Alaska Prepper, Survivalist & Militia Rendezvous.
Never Alone is an upcoming puzzle adventure game featuring a young Iñupiaq protagonist and her arctic fox companion, whose breathtaking trailer has been causing some buzz. It is the debut production of the Cook Inlet Tribal Council's Upper One Games, the first Native American owned games company. The game draws on Alaskan folklore and was developed in collaboration with elders, storytellers, and E-Line Media, a Seattle-based publisher of educational games.
Alaska's rape rate is the highest in the country -- three times the national average. To find out why, I went to Alaska to talk with victims, politicians -- and the rapists. [more inside]
Every year, women come from all over North America to prove themselves in Alaska's wildest competition [more inside]
An update to Into the Wild.
A polka band that accompanies a yearly ski train. A musk ox farmer. A bush pilot. A Native youth Olympian These are some of the subjects covered in the new web series Indie Alaska. Each episode aims to capture a colorful aspect of life in Alaska, whether it be someone's work, art, or play. A collaboration between Alaska Public Media and PBS Digital Studios. [more inside]
Boring day job? Watch a grizzly bear hunt for salmon at Brooks Falls or the Lower Brooks River in Katmai National Park, Alaska. [more inside]
Here's what it's like to be chewed on by a grizzly bear. (Video footage, SFW, no gore.)
Police broke up an eagle party in the parking lot of an Alaska Safeway. Evidently this is a thing.
Alaska is home to two small villages of Russian Orthodox "Old Believers," whose ancestors left the church and their home in Siberia in 1666 in the face of state-issued church reforms. They have traveled more than 20,000 miles over five centuries in the search for the perfect place to protect their traditions from outside influences. Now, assimilation into American culture is slowly overtaking them. (Via) [more inside]
I was staring at a week and a half of bone-deep cold, probable-verging-on-inevitable blizzards, baneful travel conditions, and total isolation from the civilized (read: broadband-having) world. I hate snow, do not play winter sports, keep the thermostat at 65 on a good day, and haven’t logged out of Spotify since 2011. I’m not even a dog person. Grantland's Brian Phillips covers the Iditarod Sled Dog Race.
"Like a lot of things in Alaska, the annual Mount Marathon Race in Seward is famously brutal, even dangerous. Which is precisely why Michael LeMaitre ran it--the last day he was seen alive."
From the mid 40s to the mid 50s Coronet Instructional Films were always ready to provide social guidance for teenagers on subjects as diverse as dating, popularity, preparing for being drafted, and shyness, as well as to children on following the law, the value of quietness in school, and appreciating our parents. They also provided education on topics such as the connection between attitudes and health, what kind of people live in America, how to keep a job, supervising women workers, the nature of capitalism, and the plantation System in Southern life. Inside is an annotated collection of all 86 of the complete Coronet films in the Prelinger Archives as well as a few more. Its not like you had work to do or anything right? [more inside]
Director and/or star of many of the greatest films ever made including The Great Dictator (2:05:16) [Globe scene and the eternally goosebump providing Final speech], The Immigrant (20:01), The Gold Rush (1:11:49), City Lights (1:22:40), Modern Times (1:27:01), and Monsieur Verdoux (1:59:03), Charlie Chaplin's movies have entered the public domain in most countries. Below the fold is an annotated list of all 82 of his official short and feature films in chronological order, as well as several more, with links to where you can watch them; it's not like you had work to do right? [more inside]
Rescued Alaskan Walrus Calf Charms Caretakers (YouTube, bad music warning)"He’s sweet, snuggly and loves a good bottle," writes Amy Sinatra Ayres, for VetStreet.com. [more inside]
There is now a live stream of bears gathering to eat salmon at Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park. [more inside]
Not The Onion: Cat Mayor celebrates 15th Year in Office. Stubbs (C-AK) is not the first or only non-human elected mayor of an American town; two dogs and a goat have shared the same honor.
In light of today's news that one of two Shell ships slated to drill exploratory oil wells in the Arctic waters of Alaska's Chukchi and Beaufort Seas had slipped its moorings and was headed towards Dutch Harbor, in Alaska's Aleutian Islands... check out a collaboration between the Yes Men and Greenpeace that's been online since June: arcticready.com (Twitter) -- an elaborate site spoofing Royal Dutch Shell Plc, who have uh... promised not to sue.
The Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska moves less than a foot a day, but thanks to Extreme Ice Survey you can now watch three years of movement happen in just over a minute complete with a glacier expert explaining what you're seeing. You can also watch giant glacier pieces break into the water and many other non-glacial glacier videos. Finally, some info to make you more of a glacier expert yourself.