Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thursday Odds & Ends

I. Review of For the Rights of All: Ending Jim Crow in Alaska.

Alaska Public Broadcasting stations showed this new, partially dramatized documentary on Tuesday evening. The film, which combines historical still photographs and film with recently staged re-enactments of a few key events up to early 1945, is quite good, when compared to other important Alaska-produced dramatized documentaries. The producer's goal of using 100% Alaska resources in the makeup may have somewhat limited the film's access to top flight Hollywood-level actors, but the 1980s locally-produced movie about Sydney Laurence (I can't find a reference to its title) fared worse in this respect. Some of the acting was very good in this effort, though.

The movie's worth, though, is in its powerful context and strong narrative. It gives an excellent overview of Alaska Native rights up to the time of the 1945 legislation. The way it does that is both well-crafted and inspirational. This is a movie that could flesh out Alaska historical studies in all our public schools, and every possible effort should be made to help see that it is shown in those institutions and others.

Here we are, though, almost 65 years after the milestone civil rights legislation inspired by Alberta Schenk Adams and Elizabeth Peratrovich passed the territorial legislature, and civil rights and civil liberties struggles continue. This past spring, summer and fall saw a long struggle in Anchorage for gay rights, that ended in a defeat caused by the same interests that would still have our First People abandon their traditions, in order to be fully "saved."

II. The NOAA Beluga decision.

I've downloaded all 375 pages of the two most important NOAA/NMFS documents on the proposed listing of the Cook Inlet Beluga whale habitat as "critical." They are:

Draft RIR/4(b)(2) Preparatory Assessment/RFA for the Critical Habitat Designation of Cook Inlet Beluga Whale


You can download them at this NMFS site, although the reports, for some reason, aren't listed under their real titles.

I'm reading them as I have the time (375 term papers have come in this week for me to read and grade, finals coming up next week). Needless to say, this process - we're now in a 60-day public comment period that began on Monday - is going to be one of the most contentious in Alaska history. More on this tomorrow.

III. Rick Steiner on Monday's decision by the Alaska Board of Game Anchorage Advisory Committee, regarding expansion of protections to Denali wolves on state land north of Denali National Park.

University of Alaska Prof. Rick Steiner is once again advocating. The Mudflats is carrying his essay on the Monday meeting, and possible implication of the Anchorage advisory group's 6 to 3 vote in favor of supporting an extension of protections to these wolves.

Steiner's article notes that the board was probably influenced by a large turnout of supporters of this important expansion of protections. The final decision by the Alaska Board of Game will occur in February in Fairbanks, and, as Stephen F Stringham, PhD, a past member of the Kenai advisory board observed in the comment's to Steiner's article:

....even a 6:3 vote in Anchorage for more wolf protection is not likely to have significant influence on the Board of Game. During the two years that I was on a Kenai Peninsula fish & game advisory council, there was very little indication that the BofG paid any attention to any proposal that we authored or forward to them — unless the proposal supported the BofG agendas, none of which included more protection for predators or for eco-tourism. Quite the contrary, such proposals seemed to elicit only contempt by the BofG. Part of that comes from individual mind sets that are locked in concrete and impervious to contrary facts. And part is due to what many believe to be overwhelming evidence that wolf (and bear) numbers need to be drastically reduced to allow “recovery” of moose and caribou populations.

Sounds like there may be a need for some intense activism in Fairbanks in February, eh?

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