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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
February 18, 2010

Front Page Photo by CARL THOMPSON

Ward Lake: Ketchikan
Front Page Photo by CARL THOMPSON


Ketchikan: Canadian Tsimshian Was A Leader For Alaska Native Rights; Peter Simpson Also Owned Alaska's First Native Business A Feature Article By DAVE KIFFER - Although the vast majority of the leaders in the Alaska Native civil rights movement were Tlingits, one of the founders and early leaders was a Tsimshian, originally from Canada, named Peter Simpson.

Simpson was one of the founders of the Alaskan Native Brotherhood in 1912, the only non Tlingit among the early advocates. And many in the Native community consider him one of the forces behind Native land claims efforts.

Simpson is also given credit for operating what it is believed the first Native owned business in Alaska, a sawmill at Port Gravina near Ketchikan in 1892.

Simpson's birth date is dispute as most sources say that he was born in 1871 but a census taken when New Metlakatla was founded in 1887 listed his age as 23. He told friends that he was born on July 4, although it was in what was then called Port Simpson, now Lax Kw'alaams, a town that was the major trading post in northern British Columbia at that time.

Simpson was a member of the Killerwhale Clan and was raised by his uncle and aunt, Henry and Alice Ridley. As a youngster he lived in Old Metlakatla and was especially close to Anglican Lay Minister, Father William Duncan.

In 1985, Ketchikan Native elder Gertrude Mather Johnson collected information on Simpson's life for the Sealaska Heritage Foundation. That information was later the basis of a chapter on Simpson's life in Haa Kusteeyi: Our Culture, Tlingit Life Stories, the 1994 work by Nora and Richard Dauenhauer which is considered the standard reference biographic work on Alaska Native civil rights leaders. - More...
Thursday - February 18, 2010

Ketchikan: Alaska Celebrates Civil Rights Pioneer; Peratrovich's Efforts Pre-Dated Martin Luther King A Feature Article By DAVE KIFFER - Elizabeth Jean Wanamaker Peratrovich is often referred to as the Martin Luther King of Alaska, but the truth is she was fighting for equal rights for Alaska Natives a decade before Martin Luther King gained fame during the Civil Rights movement.

Peratrovich was born on July 4, 1911 in Petersburg. Her Tlingit name was Kaaxgal.aat and she was of the Lukaax.adi clan of the Raven moiety, according to information from the Alaska Native Sisterhood.

Her parents died when she was very young and she was adopted by Presbyterian missionaries Mary and Andrew Wanamaker.

She attended school in Petersburg and Sitka and eventually graduated from high school in Ketchikan in 1931. One of her classmates was her future husband Roy Peratrovich of Klawock.

Elizabeth's Senior Picture in the 1931 Ketchikan High School yearbook included the following: Entered from Klawock, Alaska '28; Course: General; Kayhi Ko-Ed Club '29; Operetta '29, '30; Glee Club '29, '30, '31; Her senior motto was "By the words of thy mouth will I Judge thee." - More....
Thursday - February 18, 2010

Ketchikan: State Fire Marshal Officials Give Authority to City - City of Ketchikan and State Fire Marshal officials signed an agreement Thursday giving Code Enforcement, Inspection, Plan Review, and Fire Marshal authority to the City of Ketchikan.

Lt to Rt: Alaska State Fire Marshal Dave Tyler, Assistant State Fire Marshal Kelly Nicolello, and City Fire Marshal Richard Tombaugh.
Photo courtesy of Clifton Allen, City of Ketchikan

For many years city departments have provided building and life-safety inspection services to the community but the State Fire Marshal's office was the overall enforcement authority. With the signing of the agreement today, City Fire and Building officials will be able to provide better customer service and fees as these services will remain local. Plan Review services, local inspection and code enforcement authority will now become the responsibility of City Fire Department and Ketchikan Building officials. - More...
Thursday - February 18, 2010

Alaska: Resolution of Brown, Schloss Murders - Alaska Attorney General Dan Sullivan said he hopes the families and friends of Della Brown and Mindy Schloss feel a sense of closure and the start of healing with Wednesday's plea by Joshua Wade that he is guilty of murdering the two Anchorage women.

"We want these families - and all Alaskans - to know that we will never rest when such heinous crimes remain unpunished," Sullivan said. "Thanks to close cooperation between our office and the U.S. Attorney's Office, we are seeing justice served."

Wade changed his pleas in Alaska Superior Court and U.S. District Court to accept responsibility in the murder of Ms. Schloss in 2007 and Ms. Brown in 2000. He received effective life sentences in both venues for the crimes, including a 99-year state sentence.

Although Wade was acquitted by a jury in 2003 of murdering Ms. Brown, his confession entered in Superior Court this morning allowed Judge Philip Volland to prohibit discretionary parole. Even with good behavior in prison, Wade will have to serve 66 years before being eligible for parole on the state conviction. And then if he were ever released, he would automatically be taken into custody by the Federal Bureau of Prisons to finish out the balance of his concurrent life sentence with no possibility of release.

"We also hope that this result today demonstrates our commitment to equality under the law," Attorney General Sullivan said. "One of the many tragedies from the Della Brown murder is the perception that the ethnicity of a victim might somehow influence how aggressively a crime is investigated and prosecuted by the state. Let me address this plainly, sincerely and directly: We will never give up or go easy on a perpetrator because the victim is an Alaska Native or of any other ethnicity." - More...
Thursday - February 18, 2010


Southeast Alaska: The Cave Man of Tenakee By GEOFF KIRSCH - The guy in the neighboring cabin was skeptical:

Steve Lewis is one of Alaska's foremost cavers.
Photo: Geoff Kirsch

"What the hell would you want to crawl around in a cold, muddy pit for?"

Fair enough, especially given the weather-and the hot spring beckoning across the street. Later, I discussed this exchange with long-time Tenakee resident Steve Lewis as we set out in his skiff for one of his favorite caves.

Lewis put it differently - "well, why wouldn't you?"

Steve Lewis, 55, is one of the state's foremost cavers. In his 23 years as an explorer, 16 with the Tongass Cave Project, Lewis has measured and mapped many of the 500-plus known caves in Southeast Alaska. He is also an expert on karst.

The term karst refers to landscape that forms in areas of water-soluble bedrock-in Southeast Alaska, typically limestone. Karst is distinguished by caves, pits, sink-holes and underground water drainage. As water eats away at rock, it begins to punch small holes. Over time, this process carves passages.

"It's like dripping water onto a giant sugar cube," Lewis said, steering us into a small cove on northern Chichagof Island.

Limestone is especially soluble. Even rainwater will dissolve it; muskeg and forest soil run-off can be extremely acidic. This hastens the creation of limestone caves in boggy or wooded areas-Southeast Alaska is both.

"Of course, the dissolved limestone makes karst-fed streams less acidic," Lewis said. "There's usually lots of salmon."

He wasn't kidding. We anchored near the mouth of one such stream thick with sockeye, the bank covered in scales and entrails. It stank like a processing plant. - More...
Thursday - February 18, 2010

Alaska: Governor Signs First Bill - Alaska Governor Sean Parnell performed his first bill-signing ceremony Wednesday, making Senate Bill 59 a law.

The legislation, sponsored by Senator Bert Stedman and Representative Peggy Wilson, allows low-speed electric vehicles on roads with posted speed limits of 45 mph or less. Previously, the law only allowed electric cars to operate on roads with posted speed limits of 35 mph or less.

A ceremonial bill signing was held at the Sitka Chamber of Commerce, where Governor Parnell was the keynote speaker. - More...
Thursday - February 18, 2010


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Questions, please contact the editor at or call 617-9696.

letterKPU SALE ADVERTISING BUDGET By Pete Ellis - Further to Edwardson's commentary on the approved budget for the KPU Sale Election referendum did not the City Council action really result in a budget that should be divided equally between those in favor and those opposed? - More...
Friday AM - February 19, 2010

letterSealaska Landless Communities By Vernon Grant - In my last letter for public interest, on November 16th 2009, I had voiced my personal opinion about how Sealaska has not addressed the landless issues of the 5 communities, that were left out of the original ANCSA of 1970's. But have you noticed the Sealaska website headlines: "Haa Aaní Legislation" you would think that what they were speaking about is the final act of the ANCSA to finalize the whole bill as promised!  - More...
Friday AM - February 19, 2010

letterDO NOT ALLOW The Sealaska Bill out of Committee By Myla Poelstra - S.881, the Sealaska land grab bill, should die in committee. Sealaska's selections should only occur within the area specified by ANCSA in 1971.- More...
Friday AM - February 19, 2010

letterThank You Ketchikan & Metlakatla By Blanche Dilleshaw - I would like to give a huge heartfelt thank you to the family and friends for the seafood fundraiser held in Metlakatla. Ý A lot of work went into it.Ý I heard the food was awesome!!Ý I do wish I could have been there. - More...
Friday AM - February 19, 2010

letter Thomas Jefferson By A.M.Johnson - From all reflections of current community, National and local awareness, it seems the history of the greatness of America from its founding days is not taught in a manner that is retained by students of public education. - More...
Friday AM - February 19, 2010

letterAre the Ports & Harbors exempted from drug test for applicants as Ports Security Officers? By Jose S. Garcia - In my recent stint as Port Security Officer for the year 2008, the interview and CPR/First Aid Training was done in conjunction to what protocol has agenda'd. Nevertheless, there were no drug tests applied or even mandated to by the hiring personnel of the Ports and Harbors having to note that these hired personnel reflects being a model ports officer in the City of Ketchikan. - More...
Friday AM - February 19, 2010

letterKayhi's National Art's Honor Society By Frankie Urquhart - I want to acknowledge the wonderful students who are a part of Ketchikan High School's National Art's Honor Society. These students, led by Jeanette Sweetman, did an amazing job decorating the Schoenbar Valentine's Dance last Friday. This group of students worked for hours after school everyday and put in 20+ hours building pieces of art for the dance. They crafted a very impressive Eiffel Tour that became the center piece for our dance. They also built a heart shaped frame that students were able to stand in front of to take pictures with their friends, and a few other wonderful banners. These students did all of this on their own time, and the day of the dance actually came and set up for 4 hours before the dance. - More...
Friday AM - February 19, 2010

letterBell Island Hot Springs By Kara Steele - I was just on Facebook, and one of our classmates has discovered a horrible end that no one expected at Bell Island. If anyone remembers this precious site, the hot springs pool and cabins were all the rave! Now, the pool has been left unattended for who knows how long, critters and moss have taken over the inside, the boardwalks to everything are falling down, the cabins are gone, and apparently the lodge has had a major cave in with the roof some years ago. - More...
Friday AM - February 19, 2010

letter RE: KPU By Barbara Dupea - The last time I checked there aren't many businesses in this world that give service away for free, including First City Tax. I suspect that's why Mr. Hanger has remained in business for as long as he has. Just pay your bills on time, seems pretty simple to me. - More...
Friday AM - February 19, 2010

letterRE: KPU By Paul Jarvi - Mr. Hanger, pay your bills. - More...
Friday AM - February 19, 2010

letterCreate and Keep Jobs in U.S. By Donald A. Moskowitz - President Obama is promoting a new $300 billion economic stimulus program. When he took office in January 2009 he said the $787 billion stimulus program will CREATE 3.5 million jobs by the end of 2010 and unemployment will remain below 8.0%. Unemployment is hovering around 10.0%, and the jobs promised by Obama might hit 1.5 million by the end of 2010, but during the last 13 months we lost 5 million jobs. - More...
Friday AM - February 19, 2010

letterWake up parents! By Spring McCurry - I don't understand what I have been seeing this winter or any winter for that matter. On my way into work I see high school students walking to school with NO jacket! I see middle and elementary aged students waiting at the bus stop or walking to school with NO jacket! It's raining and windy out, but these kids don't have a jacket on. Why is that? As I drive through town I notice the kids that are walking with their parents, parents have a jacket on, but not the kids. - More...
Friday AM - February 19, 2010

letterDoggie Dems By Kara Steele - I almost fell outta my seat reading this one! LOL Good job on the letter! Yes I must admit, I believe my dog too, is a Democrat....she sleeps all the time, eats, I feed her, bathe her, take her to the doctor....all she has to do, is be here when I get home! - More...
Friday AM - February 19, 2010

Friday AM - February 19, 2010

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Stories in the News
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Ketchikan, Alaska

In Memory of SitNews' first editor,
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