Multimedia

Scott Jensen

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The Northern Lights Dancers on Tuesday entertained 300 residents, visitors and advance crew who were in the Arctic Alaska community of Kotzebue ahead of President Barack Obama's planned visit the following day.The evening at the local high school began with a village potlatch and moved onto a Native Youth Olympics demonstration. The event was capped with drumming and dancing.The official name for the dance group is the Qikiqtagruq Northern Lights Dancers. The dancers celebrate their ancestry, made up of many dancers from all over the region -- villages like Kotzebue, Kivalina, Point Hope, Point Lay, Wainwright and Barrow.
Shelby Lum

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President Barack Obama stepped off Air Force One along with Governor Bill Walker on Monday Aug. 31, 2015. He was greeted on the tarmac and stopped by the crowd that had gathered to meet him."Oh, it's beautiful today," he said through the wind. "It's great to be here."Obama is set to stay in Alaska for three days, speaking at the GLACIER Conference in Anchorage to discuss issues about the Arctic on Monday, then traveling to Seward, Dillingham and Kotzebue.  
Shelby Lum

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Visitors wandered up to giant chunks of ice sitting outside of the Anchorage Museum on Sunday and were able to touch pieces of a glacier. On the lawn, there were samples of food and free music performances that were part of a celebration in collaboration with GLACIER, the conference that focuses on the issues in the Arctic and is taking place in Anchorage this week. 
Loren Holmes,Lisa Demer

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NEWTOK – The only way to reach the village of Newtok from the airstrip is across an old wooden boardwalk so crooked and broken that a person on foot risks falling between gaps in planks into the marsh below.The school principal hauls his own honey bucket. An aide at the health clinic lives with four others in a one-room home where duct tape patches cracks between walls. Homes tilt at crazy angles after years of sinking unevenly into thawing permafrost.While new houses and modern water and sewer systems lift up lives in some rural communities, government agencies as of late see little reason to invest in eroding villages that everyone is preparing to leave behind.This isolated Southwest Alaska community is disappearing as the land sinks, sea levels rise and the bordering Ninglick River gobbles up an average of one-fourth of a football field a year.“My house used to be down there by the pond, and they had to drag it up here,” said Elsie Stewart, 49, standing on the front steps of her home, moved a few years back after a flood. The hide of a musk ox hunted by her brother lay drying outside. She knits the fine yarn spun from qiviut, the down, into scarves and smokerings, or nachaqs, as part of the Anchorage-based Ooomingmak cooperative.With severe erosion and flooding in Newtok, Stewart is unsure the place she was born and raised will be there for her own children.But Newtok doesn’t intend to lose itself to the creep of climate change. Of more than two dozen threatened Alaska villages, Newtok is the one farthest along in efforts to relocate to new, higher ground.Read more: Newtok not waiting: Disintegrating Alaska village stages move to new siteSee more: Slideshow: Newtok not waiting: Disintegrating Alaska village stages move to new siteWatch this video on YouTube or Vimeo, and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more.
Alaska Dispatch News
Ten-year-old Sophia Martin, who performs under the name The Girl From the North Country, was born in Valdez but lives in Thorne Bay on Prince of Wales Island.Sophia has been writing and performing songs on the island since she was seven. Creating the music video for the original song "Stubborn Girl" was a family affair. Martin's mother Katie is featured on guitar and her father Isaac plays mandolin, while her two little sisters and little brother play on the beach nearby. Martin wrote the song on the piano one rainy afternoon with Katie by her side.Martin’s biggest performance to date was at the Alaska Folk Festival this past April in Juneau. She is an avid outdoors girl who shot her first deer at age nine and caught her first salmon unassisted when she was eight. Currently she is off on her first moose hunt. For more information about the Martin family and their lives in Thorne Bay, visit their blog, Steal Away North.To submit your video to Alaska Dispatch News, contact Tara Young at tara(at)alaskadispatch.com.
Scott Jensen

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They’re back for an encore performance. In their second year at the Alaska State Fair, the Knights of Valour storm the Ram Trucks Grandstand at 6 p.m. every day at the fair. Adults get in for $15. Kids entry is $10. This troupe of 18 are in the middle of a three-month tour that takes them all over the United States and Canada. The show begins with a half-dozen knights from the United States and Canada, in full-metal regalia (minus their helmets and shields), riding horses through an obstacle course demonstrating their technical abilities to pick up small rings with the butt-end of a spear. Then they throw the spear at a target, slice apples off the top of poles with sword, and finally grab an 11-foot lance and give the quintaine a whirl. All this tests agility, speed and power.Next, the main event begins. The knights don helmets, pick up shields and put armor to the test. Fans are treated to run after run of horse and knight hurtled at one other. The object is to use the lance to land a perfect strike against the opponent’s shield. The show promoter insists this is all real. Watch the video for more.Alaska State Fair picks: Jousting, lumberjacks and a parade to kick it all off
Tara Young

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Marya and Garnett Morrow Sr. of Moose Gardens Bed and Breakfast have been competing in the Alaska State Fair since the early 1980s, but have been consistently winning "grand champion" ribbons every year since 1985. The Morrows, their son Garnett Jr. and other family members contribute to the family’s submissions into as many categories as they can possibly enter. Flowers, flower design, wild berries, edible berries and sometimes baking have won the Morrows numerous blue ribbons and at times “Best in Show” and “Extreme Exhibitor.” But Marya says the family’s goal is to win at least one purple grand champion ribbon every year. Watch this video on YouTube, and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more. Contact Tara Young at tara(at)alaskadispatch.com.

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An uncontrolled wildfire in the tiny village of Chiniak on Kodiak Island destroyed several structures, forced evacuations and closed roads in less than 12 hours overnight, authorities said early Friday.  Chiniak residents began evacuating around 11 p.m. Thursday. Early Friday morning, the Kodiak Police Department urged people remaining in the community of about 50 to leave quickly as the fire was moving rapidly.Read more: Wildfire destroys structures in Kodiak Island village, prompts evacuation
Alaska Dispatch News

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Somewhere among the ridges of sea ice, more than 20 miles from shore in the Arctic waters off Alaska’s northern coast, an orange six-person raft is floating. But instead of a person, the small vessel’s passenger is a thermal dummy, designed to imitate a human heat signature.In the grey sky 500 feet above, an unmanned aircraft flies a search pattern, scanning the Beaufort Sea for signs of the simulated survivor. Operators of the Puma drone, working from an installation at Oliktok Point and also aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy monitor live feeds from the aircraft’s camera and from its infrared sensors. The rescuers-in-training look for signs of the lifeboat they know is out there.Spotting the speck of orange amid the white ice and dark patches of open water proves difficult, but after concerted efforts, operators vector the drone to the raft’s coordinates and once the drone is above it, the raft appears on the search and rescue team’s monitor.Two helicopters stationed at the Arctic Shield forward operating location in Deadhorse are dispatched to the location, and Coast Guard personnel rappel down to recover the mock survivor.Read more: Drone exercise tests Coast Guard's Arctic rescue capabilities
Scott Jensen

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In a full hotel ballroom in downtown Anchorage Tuesday morning, about 200 people erupted into applause for a senator who traveled more than 4,000 miles from Washington, D.C., to preach about leaving them alone. “So I stood on the Senate floor for 10 1/2 hours -- my feet are still sore…to defend your right to be left alone,” said Sen. Rand Paul R-Kentucky, who is running for the Republican nomination to be president of the United States. This spring, Paul took to the Senate floor to filibuster renewal of the Patriot Act, a George W. Bush-era surveillance law. He was ultimately unsuccessful in stopping the government from gathering phone records, but he hasn't given up on the idea. This week Paul veered off the usual course for presidential candidates and headed west, away from early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina that dominate early campaign stops. He landed in Anchorage late Monday night, and held a fundraising breakfast first thing Tuesday morning.   Paul’s Anchorage stop was his first in the state -- he caught a plane to Fairbanks immediately after a speech at the downtown Sheraton. He planned to continue his trip across the west, to Washington, Idaho, Wyoming and Utah. States, he said, that share “the same sort of independent, rugged individualism.” READ MORE: Republican presidential candidate Paul wants to leave Alaskans alone
Scott Jensen

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In a full hotel ballroom in downtown Anchorage Tuesday morning, about 200 people erupted into applause for Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, who traveled more than 4,000 miles from Washington, D.C., to preach about  leaving them alone. This week Paul veered of the usual course for presidential candidates and headed west, away from early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina that dominate early campaign stops. He landed in Anchorage late Monday night, and held a fundraising breakfast first thing Tuesday morning. Then he headed to Fairbanks. Paul said his message stands in contrast to President Barack Obama, who will touch down in Alaska next week to talk, in part, about climate change. Read more: Presidential candidate Rand Paul wants to leave Alaskans alone
Tara Young

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Heading outdoors to do a little shooting?  Fly fishing? Hunting? Archery? Rapelling?  Just need to survive Alaska’s wilderness?You need skills, and a state program run with support of the Outdoors Heritage Foundation aims to teach them in a friendly, supportive environment. The Becoming an Outdoors Woman program, or BOW, aims to teach the skills women (men can enroll, too) need to thrive in the outdoors and embrace new challenges.“When I first got here I was nervous,” said Haley Heniff of Fairbanks, who enrolled in her second immersion weekend Aug. 7-9 at the Lost Lake Scout Camp on the Kenai Peninsula. “There’s so many people and we all come from different backgrounds, we’re all different ages.“We all don’t know each other but within 10 minutes you feel so comfortable, and everyone is open and accepting. We have … someone who’s a pro at something to a complete novice, and we’re all completely comfortable with each other.”  Read more: Becoming an Outdoors Woman Watch this video on YouTube, and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more great videos. Contact Tara Young at tara(at)alaskadispatch.com.

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