The Odd Side – October 27, 2015

Alaska Tribe to Get Back Totem Pole Taken in 1930s

(Reuters) – A totem pole taken from an Alaska tribe 84 years ago is being returned to the village, after decorating the yards of California mansions for years and being stored in the basement of a museum in Hawaii.

The 30-foot-tall carved wooden obelisk belonging to the Tlingit tribe is due to reach Alaska on Nov. 6 from Honolulu, capping a journey that began in 1931 when it was taken during a celebrity’s sailing trip along the coast.

“[He] must have strapped the pole to his 120-foot yacht and sailed away, continuing on his voyage northward,” said University of Alaska professor emeritus Steve Langdon, who has spent years tracking down the pole.

Langdon said a book published in 2001 contained a photograph showing the yacht’s crew members loading the pole onto the vessel with a caption that it had been “purchased” at the ancestral village of Tuxecan on Prince of Wales Island.

Apart from that, Langdon said he has been unable to find evidence from the tribe or beyond that suggests it was a legitimate acquisition.

Langdon tracked the pole to the museum after finding a photo showing it in someone’s yard. He went to Hawaii on behalf of the tribe in 2013.

“It became clear from his research that the totem pole was a sacred object of cultural patrimony and we immediately decided the totem pole should be returned home,” said Stephan Jost, director of the Honolulu Museum of Art.

Several members of the tribe traveled from Klawock, their present-day village of roughly 800 residents, to Honolulu for a transfer ceremony on Thursday that included music and an exchange of gifts, the museum said.

The pole is to be placed in the tribe’s cultural heritage center, with a replica planned for the village, Langdon said.

Texas Town Tries to Corral Emus on the Loose

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) –– Police in Round Rock tried for hours on Thursday to corral four emus on the loose that have been roaming through a residential area in the Austin, Texas suburb and evading capture, a spokeswoman said.

“It has been one of those days,” Round Rock police spokeswoman Angelique Myers said.

The owner apparently has been identified, but police are still not sure how the emus made their way to streets in the city of about 110,000 people, she said.

“These animals are considered feral fowl. If you see an emu, do not feed it or try to contain it. These animals can be very dangerous. They are considered wildlife and should be left alone,” Round Rock police said in an online post.

Police have set up roadblocks to corral the animals, or steer them away from places where people are.

Spanish Shepherds Guide 2,000 Sheep Through Madrid’s Streets

MADRID (AP) – Spanish shepherds have led 2,000 sheep through the streets of Madrid in defense of age-old droving, grazing and migration rights that are increasingly threatened by urban sprawl and fenced-in pastures.

Tourists and children were surprised to see wide avenues blocked off in the Spanish capital to let the woolly parade — bleating loudly and clanking bells — cross the city, accompanied by sheepdogs.

Government agriculture spokesman Carlos Cabanas says the tradition is essential to “maintain native breeds that are in danger of extinction.”

Shepherds have held the right since at least 1273 to use droving routes across land that used to be open fields before Madrid became a sprawling metropolis.

A shepherd handed over 150 maravedies — coins minted in the 11th century — to city officials for the crossing.

As Incentive to Vote, 1 Philadelphia Resident Will Win $10K

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Philadelphia voters now have extra incentive to go to the polls: They could win $10,000.

The editor of The Philadelphia Citizen on Thursday announced an election lottery. Larry Platt says one random voter will win the money Nov. 3, when residents vote for mayor.

The prize aims to reverse abysmal turnout and spark a conversation about civic engagement.

The online news site says turnout for mayoral elections in the heavily Democratic city has plummeted from 77 percent in 1971 to about 20 percent in 2011.

David Thornburgh heads the civic watchdog group Committee of Seventy and says he supports trying new ideas to spur more people to cast ballots.

This year, a voter education organization gave $25,000 to a random voter in a Los Angeles school board election.

Idaho Agency Finds Historic Footage of Parachuting Beavers

BOISE, Idaho (AP) – More than half a century after a group of beavers parachuted into the Idaho back country, officials have uncovered footage of the quirky wildlife management moment.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game was struggling with an overpopulation of beavers in some regions in the 1940s when wildlife managers settled on a novel idea. They captured beavers and other furry rodents, packed them into special travel boxes, attached parachutes and dropped them from a plane into the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.

Animal lovers, take heart — it appears all the beavers made it through their flying adventures unharmed.

The film made around 1950 and dubbed “Fur for the Future” showed the infamous beaver drops, but it had long been lost, Boise State Public Radio reported Thursday.

Fish and Game historian Sharon Clark recently uncovered the fragile film, which had been mislabeled and stored in the wrong file. It has been digitized and released by the department and the Idaho Historical Society.

Trapping and transplanting beavers still happens today — but in less dramatic fashion.

“We haven’t done airplane drops for 50-plus years, but it apparently worked pretty well back then to re-establish them in remote places,” said Steve Nadeau, Fish and Game’s statewide furbearer manager.

The agency now moves beavers to the Owyhee desert, in the state’s southwest corner, to help restore vegetation stripped away by years of watershed use. Nadeau says the goal is for beavers to make ponds in the region, which can hold water year-round.