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News
Apr 29 2015
Project Slawilutiiq: Translating Russian and Alutiiq History PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 29 April 2015
members_of_church_slavonic_and_alutiiq_group.jpgMembers of the Slawilutiiq Project. Safronova-Simeonoff first on left and Matfay Christiansen Pestrikoff third from left. Photo by Jill HH Lipka at the Baranov Museum

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

One Kodiak College teacher will give a lecture tonight about a linguistics project she’s been working on with a group of Alutiiq elders in Kodiak. It combines hymns, the Alutiiq language, and old Russian.                                                                                                                                         

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Daria Safronova-Simeonoff is an archivist at St. Herman's Theological Seminary and a Russian instructor at Kodiak College. For the last three and a half years, she’s held weekly gatherings to study these two languages in Russian Orthodox hymns.

She says Church Slavonic is rooted deep in religious tradition, both abroad and in Alaska.

“All these languages – Bulgarian, Serbian, Russian, Ukrainian – they changed, but they still kept worshipping in Church Slavonic,” says Safronova-Simeonoff. “This language unites all those nations. So when the first missionaries came to Alaska, they started worshipping in church Slavonic.”

Florence Matfay Christiansen Pestrikoff is an Alutiiq language teacher. She says she grew up reciting the Lord’s Prayer in Church Slavonic.

“Layreaders had to teach us the prayers, and they taught us in the Russian language we thought and when Daria came to Kodiak, I asked her what those words were. [Says Prayer] And she told me,” says Matfay Christiansen Pestrikoff. “And I was just so happy to finally know what I was saying.”

Safronova-Simeonoff says Matfay Christiansen Pestrikoff was the first elder to join the group, which she calls the Slawilutiiq Project.

“So, it’s Slavonic pronounced with an Alutiiq accent and Alutiiq,” Safronova-Simeonoff says.

Safronova-Simeonoff says when she first arrived in Kodiak, she dug through local archives and saw records of Alutiiq church hymns. She took one to the Alutiiq language club.

“…and read it to the elders, wondering would they understand me still? And when I read the first chapters, they looked at me with great surprise and asked me where I learned their language. I said, well, I don’t know your language, but I can read the Cyrllic letters in which your language is written.”

The Cyrillic alphabet was originally a Slavic writing system. Safranova-Simeonoff says she wanted to learn Alutiiq, but she also wanted her group to learn Church Slavonic.

“The idea – the romantic idea – was to ask elders to learn the alphabet themselves to become literate in this church Slavonic alphabet so that they could read it again as their ancestors could do,” says Safronova-Simeonoff.

Safronova-Simeonoff says that some of the Alutiiq hymns were translated in the 19th century and the language has since changed. She says that’s partly because some of the words didn’t pop up everyday.

“Do we often discuss biblical matters at home drinking a cup of tea?” says Safronova-Simeonoff. “Do you ask your friend, and how did your conscious feel today? How about repentance for tomorrow? How often do you discuss your soul in an everyday conversation?”

She says the group has debated over words, discussed translations, and eaten a variety of Russian foods at their weekly meetings. They’ve also received help putting the hymns to music.

Now, they can sing the songs in church. Safronova-Simeonoff says she wants the prayers to be accessible to everyone across religions and cultures.

She and several other members of the project will speak about their progress at 7pm for the Baranov Museum’s History Speaks Lecture series.
 
Apr 28 2015
Culverts in Lake Orbin Tributary Near Completion PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 28 April 2015
view_inside_culvert.jpgPicture from inside culvert. Photo by Blythe Brown

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Juvenile salmon from Lake Orbin will soon have an easier path to the sea.

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                                                                            Blythe Brown is the Project Coordinator at the Kodiak Soil and Water Conservation District. She says they’re improving the culverts in the Lake Orbin tributary to the Russian River will ease them on their way.

“The old culvert was only three feet diameter. The new culverts are seven feet diameter and the stream bed is going to be built right through the culvert so the young juvenile fish can swim through more easily,” says Brown.”

Brown says they’ve been working on the culverts for three years from conception to installation. She says at first people were wary about investing time and money on Orbin, but she says that more salmon pass through there than people think.

“In the minnow trapping that I’ve been doing, we’ve discovered a lot of cohos are in there,” says Brown. “The local land owners have seen a lot of adult fish running up through that creek, so even thought it dries out part of the year, it is a valuable habitat.”

Bill Rice is the Southcentral Alaska Fish Path Engineer for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He says streams like Orbin can have a long-term affect on fish populations.

“This gained an importance in our view because it was a unique feature where some significant rearing habitat could be accessed and used,” Rice says.

Rice says there are four culverts in the stream and that they serve more than one purpose.

“Typically we’re also increasing the size and flood capacity of these crossings and so we like to say we’re improving fish and better flood capacity at the same time,” says Rice.

He says the budget is about $250,000 dollars and Brown adds that the Fish and Wildlife Service was the major funder.
Rice says they are close to being done with the project and hope to finish the culvert on Lake Orbin Drive this week, which will also involve smoothing the dirt placed over the pipe.

He says they will be re-seeding the disturbed land around the culverts this summer.
 
Apr 28 2015
Stutes and Stevens Decline to Sign Bycatch Letter to NPFMC PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 28 April 2015
Jay Barrett/KMXT
When a dozen Alaska legislators sent a letter earlier this month to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council asking for a dramatic reduction in Bering Sea and Aleutian Island halibut bycatch, the names of Kodiak's legislators were missing.
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Rep. Louise Stutes said a lack of input from her constituents prompted her decision not to sign.

"My feelings were, 'I'm a messenger here,' I carry the message of my constituents, whether it be Kodiak or Cordova or Yakutat. And I wasn't going to sign onto a letter like that without input from them, from all the different sectors,” Stutes said. “And unfortunately we were right in the middle of budget time, and I didn't have an opportunity to get that input."

Sen. Gary Stevens said it was more of a gear-type debate that he had no place in, and admits some fishermen may not like his stance on the issue.

"And I know some people are probably going to be offended and say, 'Why didn't do this or do that?' But you really can't pit one fishery against another fishery,” Stevens said. “The decision is made elsewhere in any event, and so I chose not to sign it, and that's where I am on that issue."

Figures cited by the dozen legislators in their letter to the Council's chair pointed out that halibut are a very mobile fish, with studies showing that 70-percent or more of those tagged in the Bering Sea are later caught in the Gulf of Alaska. Both co

Stevens says the Bering Sea trawl fleet has been working to reduce bycatch and needs more tools to reduce it further. Stutes says the waste is straight up cheating halibut fishermen.

"Personally, yes, I think the halibut bycatch absolutely needs to be reduced,” Stutes said. “I think that when you have a targeted fishery, like halibut, and you have halibut IFQs and you're prevented from fishing your IFQs because of the huge amount that has been taken in bycatch, there's a significant issue there. And I think it absolutely needed to be reduced."

A dozen coastal Representatives and Senators from Ketchikan to Cook Inlet to Bristol Bay, the Y-K Delta and Nome did sign on to the letter. 
 
Apr 27 2015
State Senate Approves Budget Compromise PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 27 April 2015
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska Senate has voted to accept a budget proposal that, without the support of House Democrats, could leave state government partially funded.

The House's Democratic-led minority has opposed cuts to education included in the budget, as well as the budget's rejection of negotiated pay raises for labor union contracts for next year, among other things. Democratic support is important in the House to authorize a draw from the constitutional budget reserve to cover costs of state government.

The budget proposal would use money previously set aside for schools to help cover this year's deficit. To fund schools for the coming fiscal year, the committee proposed a blend of funds, including $157 million from an in-state gas pipeline fund.

A draw from reserves would be needed to fund state government next year. 
 
Apr 27 2015
Legislature May Be Winding Up, but Stutes Predicts Special Session PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 27 April 2015
stutes-and-stevens-2015.jpg
Jay Barrett/KMXT
The Alaska Legislature enters its second week of overtime today with a vote pending on a spending plan in the Senate today. It advanced from the conference committee Saturday night.

Saturday afternoon, Kodiak Rep. Louise Stutes was still unsure if progress would be made.

"We're still trying to work things out and give a little and get a little,” she said. “But it's … Like I said, I wish I had a crystal ball."

Senator Gary Stevens was wary over giving in too much to minority demands that less money be removed from education funding.

"As you know, as always happens this time of year, the minority in the house is saying, 'What are we going to get out of this?' And so what they're trying to do is increase the budget. To put money back in the budget. Which is really problematic,” Stevens said. “We'll see how it works. Undoubtedly a compromise always takes place at some point But I think there's a real disinterest in putting all the money back in the budget because that just means it speeds up the time when we run out of savings."

But even if the House and the Senate agree on an operating budget today, Stutes isn't packing her bags just yet.

"I feel quite confident in saying that if we don't have some kind of determination on medicaid expansion, the governor will call us back immediately,” Stutes said. “He's not going to let us out of here without addressing Medicaid Expansion."

The legislature was due to adjourn after 90 days two Sundays ago, but constitutionally, can stay in session 121 days. When a special session is called, the legislature can only address those issues the governor lists in his order. 
 
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