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Showing posts from June, 2013

Ten Photos From Ten Hours in Petersburg, Alaska

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I left Ketchikan with my girlfriend last Saturday to go up to Juneau and start summer classes there for my next big project—earning a Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of Alaska Southeast. My classes are going great now, but it took me about twenty-four hours to get to Juneau from Ketchikan, rather than the five originally expected. My girlfriend and I flew Alaska Airlines standby on a route that hopped from Ketchikan to Wrangell to Petersburg to Juneau. On the tarmac in Petersburg, I was asked to step off the plane, and eventually was taken into Petersburg's small airport. Before my girlfriend knew I wouldn't be getting back on, they closed the doors and took off for Juneau.

What follows is an explanation for my delay accompanied by nine photos, (one above makes ten), taken during the ten hours I spent in the pretty and peaceful town of Petersburg.

Saxman or Totem Bight: Which One to Visit?

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Ketchikan, Alaska is without a doubt the best place in the world to see totem poles, and if you only had one place to see these monumental carvings, Ketchikan should be it. However, Ketchikan's totem poles are scattered over a few major locations, and two of those locations—Saxman Totem Park and Totem Bight State Historical Park—are found at a significant distance from the city center, and in opposite directions from each other.

Ideally, I think visitors to Ketchikan should see both Saxman and Totem Bight, along with the Totem Heritage Center and the other totem poles around the city. But, if you only have a limited time in my hometown, as most visitors do, which should it be—Saxman or Totem Bight?

Red: A Haida Manga and the Possibilities of Graphic Novels

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The morning after I returned to Kichx̱áan, Lingít Aaní, I just had to go see my hometownʼs brand new library. The new public library was still being constructed when I left last August, and it had its grand opening in January. Once inside, I was struck by the lovely wood interior, beautiful (and functional) furniture, and plentiful space for children, teens, and adults to hang out, read, and enjoy some gorgeous views. On the way out, I was struck by a graphic novel I saw displayed on top of a shelf—a Haida manga. I'd heard of the genre before and felt curious, so I checked out my first book from Ketchikan's new library—Red: A Haida Manga, by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas.

Daenerys Targaryen as White Savior: Historical Prejudices in Game of Thrones

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I love the mini-series Game of Thrones, based on the book series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. I've watched every episode of the show with my girlfriend, and we've been engrossed in the story as it progresses.

However, after this last episode (the finale of season three), there is just one major criticism I have to make: I am getting sick and tired of the "white liberator" or "white savior" storyline that is escalating, carried on by Daenerys Targaryen. Yes, I know this is just a work of fiction, and an entertainment production, but hear me out:

Mapping Indigenous Autonyms Coast to Coast

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On Monday the 27th, (Memorial Day), I returned home from Georgetown for the last time—a new graduate ready to began something new, back in the town where I grew up. In past years, I always thought I was coming back to Ketchikan, Alaska. This time, though, after a year spent exploring the history of the Tlingit and their homeland, I felt much more that I was returning to Kichx̱áan, Lingít Aaní.

Kichx̱áan is the Tlingit name for the site that the city of Ketchikan was built on. Clearly, the Tlingit name was adapted by the Euroamerican settlers, but it was also changed—anglicized—and turned into something different. Using indigenous place names, rather than ones created or changed by colonizers, restores to a place some of historical meaning. Even more essential, perhaps, is the acceptance and use of indigenous autonyms—Native peoples' names for themselves. A new map of the contiguous United States provides an impressive, near-comprehensive display of such autonyms and is very much …