Alaska Digest

Posted: Friday, December 22, 2006

Native history meeting planned for Sitka

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SITKA - The National Science Foundation is planning a Native history conference on Northwest Coast culture in Sitka next March, it was announced Thursday.

The meeting will feature presentations by over 90 Native and academic experts from across North America.

Native tradition bearers and academic researchers will speak on topics including oral traditions, sacred sites, archaeology, repatriation and clan histories.

Workshops on protocol, language revitalization, artifact preservation, research techniques and tribal government organization are also scheduled.

Andrew Hope III, the conference executive director, said the gathering "allows the public to become immersed in the history and cultures of the Northern Coast and access to the latest research and leading thinkers."

The event is hosted by the Southeast Alaska Native Educators Association and the Sitka Tribe of Alaska.

Hope said the conference will provide a unique opportunity for key elders as well as the public.

"The support and enthusiasm for this conference has been overwhelming," he said.

The organizers have dedicated their efforts to the memory of Mark Jacobs Jr., a noted Tlingit political and clan leader who died in 2005. The meeting is set for March 22-25.

For more information, contact Steve Henrikson at 790-2409, Andy Hope at 789-1393 or visit

Falling trees cause outage in Ketchikan

KETCHIKAN - A 125-foot tree crashed into a Ketchikan home, but three residents inside escaped injury.

Debbie Girt said the tree hit her house around 4 a.m. Wednesday.

She had just woken up because she heard the wind howling, she said. Debbie, her husband, Bob Girt, and son, Daniel Girt, were walking downstairs when the tree smashed into the home.

"It was a big jolt," Debbie said.

The tree fell onto an unoccupied bedroom. It stretched across the entire length of the house and into a neighbor's yard.

"It jarred the whole house," she said.

The 2-foot-diameter tree damaged an 6-by-12 foot area, leaving gypsum wallboard hanging in the bedroom and breaking the outer window to the kitchen's skylight.

The Girt family and friends removed the tree.

"Overall, it's not as bad as it could be and it wasn't raining the whole time fixing it," Debbie Girt said. "It's been a blessing that it wasn't any worse than it was."

The Ketchikan Flight Service Station reported winds of 56 mph before midnight Tuesday and 58 mph after midnight to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.

A second tree that fell onto a power line near Mud Bight caused a two-hour power outage on Ketchikan's north end.

Kenai River ice plays havoc along shoreline

KENAI - Hundreds of feet of elevated walkways and stairways giving access to the Kenai River in Soldotna have been demolished by river ice.

City officials installed the aluminum walkways and stairs to protect banks from damage at the feet of thousands of salmon fishermen.

Andrew Carmichael, Soldotna Parks and Recreation director, said damage has been huge at Rotary Park and Swiftwater Campground. Ice has dammed and floes have struck in areas unaffected before, he said.

"About 250 feet of walkway at Rotary has folded back on itself," he said. "Right now it's all engulfed in ice."

Metal steps leading into the river at Swiftwater Campground have been bent nearly into a spiral stairway.

"That will be $9,000 to replace it," Carmichael said.

In many places, river ice has stacked up between five to eight feet above the high-water mark. City workers can see damaged metal sticking up out of the ice but do not know what is going on below.

The walkway at Rotary Park was installed in the mid-1990s.

"Since then, we've done things differently," Carmichael said.

At former state Department of Transportation property down river from Soldotna Creek Park, walkways were placed higher over the water and stairs were built with hinges so they can be raised up after fishing season.

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