Friday, February 3, 2012


For the first time ever, I traveled to the village of Venetie. Well above the Arctic Circle. Different from just about anywhere else in America (like most Native villages, of which there are more than 200 in Alaska).

Flew right over Cache Mountain on the way. Looks like a good crop of snow in the White Mountains.

 Less than 200 people live in Venetie. Almost all of them are Alaska Natives.

This guy was in a classroom at the John Fredston school, where NASA officials were giving a presentation about rewards for recovery of rocket parts launched from Poker Flat north of Fairbanks.

Most of the structures in Venetie are made of logs. Gives the village a unique feel.

Here's a building that's not made of logs. Venetie resident Lance Whitwell converted the town's old water tank into a workshop. Because Alaska is cold in winter, many villages use huge insulated tanks to hold their entire winter's supply, which often can't be renewed until things thaw.

Despite being well north of the Arctic Circle, Venetie has lots of spruce forest surrounding it, and people heat with woodstoves. Good thing.

Ernest Erick

Don Hampton of Fairbanks, left, and Lance Whitwell find a spot for a camera Don will install to record aurora activity when a research rocket blasts over the far north later this spring.

Some guys from NASA give a presentation in the Tribal Council building. They spoke about a new NASA program that will pay people up to $1,500 for found rocket parts.

Yukon River spreading through Yukon Flats. After being in Venetie for all the daylight hours, about six of them, it was back to Fairbanks through 30 below air, which made for smooth flying and great viewing. I do love a window seat. Seeing this made me think of the proposal a few decades back to dam the Yukon at Rampart, which would have filled the Flats with water. Would have taken more than 12 years to cover all this with water.

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