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A First for the Arctic: a President

Obama exits Air Force One

Our corner of Alaska was host to an historic visit last month.

President Barack Obama’s trip to our state marked the first time a sitting president visited the Arctic — or anywhere in bush Alaska — and thanks to you, KNOM news was on the front lines both before and during this unprecedented trip.

With a smaller version of his iconic Air Force One (pictured), President Obama touched down in Kotzebue, Alaska, 30 miles north of the Arctic Circle, on September 2nd. Our reporters — Matthew Smith, Laura Kraegel, and Emily Russell — were in fine form to cover all angles of the trip.

Emily broke a major story on a key announcement of the President’s visit (in essence, that a federal agency tasked with Alaska infrastructure projects, the Denali Commission, would take the lead in state efforts to address Arctic climate issues), and Matthew sent back to Nome regular stories from Kotzebue. Matt also snapped the photos above and below (and in our photo gallery, linked here), showing, among other scenes, the President meeting with Kotzebue’s John Baker, the first Inupiat ever to win the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, and Baker’s sled dog puppy, Feather.

For lots more, we invite you to explore the links embedded in the text above — or simply search for “Obama” from our homepage.

Watching the runway
On the day of President Obama’s arrival in Kotzebue, a crowd of onlookers gathered at the runway-facing windows of the Kotzebue airport. Photo: Matthew F. Smith, KNOM.
Air Force One, taxiing
Air Force One, seen taxiing in Kotzebue on September 2. Photo: Matthew F. Smith, KNOM.
Obama address in Kotzebue
President Obama addresses a large audience in Kotzebue. Photo: Matthew F. Smith, KNOM.
Obama with Baker and Feather
President Obama spends time with Kotzebue musher and Iditarod champ John Baker — and Baker’s sled dog puppy, Feather. Photo: Matthew F. Smith, KNOM.

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Land Acknowledgement

We acknowledge that KNOM Radio Mission is located on the customary lands of Indigenous peoples. 

Based in the Bering Strait region, KNOM broadcasts throughout the homelands of the Iñupiaq, Siberian Yup’ik, Cup’ik and Yup’ik peoples.