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In Teller, Alaska, a Singular Festival — and a Rite of Passage

Teller Cultural Festival

In the span of more than four decades on the air, KNOM has been blessed to develop positive relationships with so many of the listeners and communities of Western Alaska. Among the most special of these connections is Teller, a village, like Nome, located on the coast of the Seward Peninsula, about a two-hours’ drive from KNOM’s hometown and sharing much of its cultural heritage.

KNOM counts Teller residents among its most regular listeners, and unsurprisingly, it’s a relatively frequent destination of village travel for our full-time volunteers. In winter, our volunteers benefit from being able to fly there for free, thanks to an ongoing sponsorship agreement with a regional airline. In late spring through early autumn, meanwhile, Teller is accessible by one of the regional highways that branch outwards from Nome, and in recent years, this 71-mile drive has become a mainstay of our volunteer program.

As one of this year’s volunteer news reporters, Emily, describes in a recent blog post on this website, the trip was a must-do for her and her fellow ’15-16 volunteers, not only as a rite of passage but also because of the special opportunities presented by the village’s annual cultural festival, a gathering of Alaska Native drumming and dancing ensembles from throughout KNOM country.

Teller Cultural Festival, panorama
A panoramic view of the 2015 Teller Cultural Festival. Photo: Emily Russell, KNOM.

By all indications, the dance performances of this year’s Teller festival, such as the one pictured in the panorama above, were exceptionally vibrant and energetic — and, in fact, may have lasted sixteen hours in total. Emily explains: “While we didn’t stay for all of the dancing, which, rumor has it, lasted until 9am the next morning, we did get to see some incredible and inspiring groups perform.”

Thanks to you, this special trip — undertaken by Emily and fellow volunteers Mitch, Laura, and Maddie (pictured below) — will bear fruit in numerous ways. Not only do our volunteers have a deeper connection to the incredible place our mission serves, but — as has been the case with so many village trips in the past — they returned from Teller with material for production and music programming on KNOM’s airwaves (as well as a great story for our website). It’s possible through your generosity; thank you!

2015-2016 volunteers, near Teller, Alaska
This year’s KNOM volunteers — Emily, Mitch, Laura, and Maddie — during their trip to the 2015 Teller Cultural Festival.

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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.