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A Joyful Visit to Alaska’s Far West

A dance performance at Kingikmiut
A performance at the 2015 Kingikmiut Dance Festival in Wales, Alaska. Photo: Mitch Borden, KNOM.

Per usual for our volunteer program in autumn, KNOMers have been traveling to various corners of our listening area, recently.

As you may know, a longstanding sponsorship agreement with a regional airline means our transportation to the small communities we serve is almost always free; the trips are possible, too, thanks to the flexibility, grit, and enthusiasm of our volunteers — and, of course, your generosity.

Last month, among our volunteers’ travels was a special visit to the community of Wales — one of Alaska’s westernmost places — by volunteers Mitch Borden and Maddie Winchester. The two producers went there to observe, report on, and gather production material from one of our region’s most notable annual events: the Kingikmiut (KING-ick-myoot) Dance Festival, which brings together practitioners of traditional Alaska Native music and storytelling from throughout KNOM country.

As Maddie describes in a recent post on this website, the trip was “the stuff of dreams” because of the rare, vivid glimpse into the Western Alaska culture that it afforded. They met the “welcoming and knowledgable” people of Wales, ate reindeer soup, witnessed hours of traditional cultural performances, and gathered materials that will bear fruit in KNOM’s broadcasts. Even repeated travel delays because of fog — entirely typical for travel in rural Alaska, at any time of year — did not dampen the experience.

Maddie and Mitch returned to Nome having strengthened our connection to the communities we serve — with, as Maddie describes, laughter and smiles on their faces. And, it was all thanks to you!

(Photos: the Wales landscape, a festival dance performance, and Mitch and Maddie during the trip.)

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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.