June 2017

Men's Journal Article Case | Kodiak Fishing Case | Don Rearden's New Book

A couple of interesting cases highlighted the month of June at ALO. The first involved a freelance writer from New York, charged with taking a caribou without a license near the remote northern village of Kivalina. The information shared about this case was presented in court, and thus is not confidential. The writer, Saki Knafo, went to Kivalina to take part in a whale hunt. He stayed in the village about a month and tried to experience everything he could about this coastal location. Near the end of his stay a villager he had befriended took him caribou hunting by snow machine. During the hunt, the two encountered some caribou, and the local guy handed the rifle to Saki and encouraged him to shoot. Saki, not a hunter, took the gun and downed a critter, which was dressed and given to a local elder.

Saki returned to New York and wrote about his trip. He included the caribou harvest in his thoughtful article for Men's Journal. He assumed the Native folks in Kivalina were allowed to hunt caribou without restriction, and that his involvement was thus ok. He obviously would not have written about a criminal act had he known.

Of course someone noticed the article and checked the records. Saki had no license. He contacted ALO for help, and he was told he had a tough case thanks to the article. The prosecutor assigned to the case is the statewide fish and game DA, and he is used to dealing with out of state hunters who get caught cheating on big money hunts in Alaska. Such cases are usually dealt with harshly, with big fines and other sanctions. He viewed this case the same way. ALO looked at it differently, noting the modest income derived from the article, and also the cultural sensitivity displayed in the article. ALO argued that Knafo should receive a sentence more comparable to local residents who get charged for hunting violations. The local magistrate agreed, and Knafo received a modest fine and standard restitution for a caribou.

The other case involved a freak accident in Kodiak where a fisherman was injured by a falling piece of equipment. The equipment fell while it was being cleaned when hoisted above the ground. A rope slipped and the fisherman, who was under the equipment, suffered a severed bicep. The unusual aspect of the case was an attempt by the boat owner to avoid an insurance claim by having the fisherman sign a phony agreement that called for the owner to pay for his losses out of pocket rather than allow an insurance claim. The owner said one more insurance claim and he was going to lose his insurance because of too many prior cases. ALO's client signed the agreement but immediately thought better of it and called an attorney. His case settled without a lawsuit, and the boat owner's attempted fraud played heavily into the insurance company's decision.

June saw good weather for most of the month in Alaska, but it rained everyday while Aniak musher Richie Diehl and his helper Zac Hager built a shed at the Angstman cabin in the mountains. For years a tent frame stood on a platform near the cabin, but heavy snow made that plan unworkable. Richie did a nice job on a building of his own design which will serve as a storage shed and overflow sleeping area.

Health care is high on the list of debated topics right now. One thing stands out in that discussion. Few of the folks making the noise know much about the subject matter. Obamacare is a complex piece of legislation and so is Trumpcare. People support one or the other mainly because of the name attached to it. But it is becoming more and more apparent that the number supporting Trumpcare is dwindling. That's because the main element of Trumpcare is a tax break for the ultra-rich. And that means less medical coverage for the average citizen. Please read this precise quote from Trump on the subject of health care. No wonder Congress is stalled.

Mushing friend Kristin Bacon posted this excellent bear photo and was kind enough to share it with ALO. Speaking of bears, a very skinny mother bear walked the beach near the Angstman cabin last week with a tiny cub. Hopefully the bountiful salmon supply headed for the lake will reach her in time to fatten her and her baby. This month's mandatory moose is a mama with twin babies.

Accomplished author Don Rearden has published a new book, this time about an Angstman family acquaintance named Jimmy Settle, a former pararescue unit member in Alaska. Jimmy used to date Franceska Fairbanks, and spent some time in Bethel as a result. The book "Never Quit" focuses on the training regimen Jimmy faced to become a PJ, as they are called. It's the kind of regimen that makes most folks weak just thinking about, but Jimmy made it through only to suffer a career ending injury early on.

This is Don's first try at being a co-author and it's a different style of writing than his normal effort. Here there is a story to tell, but it is someone else's story, and Don's creativity is less apparent. However it is a compelling story about a remarkable person, and worth the read. Here is an excerpt from the book recently published in the Anchorage newspaper

Finally, Facebook viewers already have seen this fish photo. Its an 8-9 pound Dolly Varden, which is quite large for an early summer fish in Alaska waters. And for skeptics, notice the arms are not extended.