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From Nome to Rome

Lisa Lynch, wearing a deep red parka and other regalia, stands on a busy Front Street in Nome.
Lisa Lynch on Front Street, Nome. Her deep red parka belonged to her mother. Her mukluks (fur boots) were made by her grandmother of walrus hide, beaver pelt, and reindeer skin. Her mittens came from a wolf hunted by her grandfather for her grandmother. Photo: Emily Hofstaedter, KNOM.

“If you can go survive in the tundra, everything (else) is a slice of cake… (Western Alaskans) are very hard-working… It’s our upbringing here: you work for what you want, and you have to work hard for what you get, because nothing is easy.”

This philosophy of life has brought Miss Arctic Native Brotherhood, Lisa Lynch, from Nome to halfway around the world in Rome.

Raised in Nome, Lisa studies far, far away, at John Cabot University in Rome. She’s working on a bachelor’s degree in classical studies and art history, with an aim to ultimately earn a Ph.D. in Egyptology and linguistic anthropology.

Both her chosen subject and her temporary European home have made for challenges. Lisa’s occasional difficulties with school or work visas are compounded by a 10-hour time-zone difference between Nome and Rome. And at times, her fellow students have belittled her for wearing a traditional, Alaska Native kuspuk, and several others harangued her for the hunting and subsistence lifestyle in which she was raised.

Lisa is determined to rise above those challenges and her detractors. Smitten by the bug to study Egyptology from a very early age, she is already “bi-literate” in French, speaks Mandarin Chinese conversationally, and has been studying Latin for four years.

She’s as enthusiastic for her Alaska Native heritage as she is for her studies. For years, she spent her summers in and around Nome, picking greens and berries and learning how to live off the land. Her first experience herding reindeer was at the age of two.

You can hear Lisa’s story — a “Story49” feature — right here on knom.org.


Lisa Lynch, wearing a deep red parka and other regalia, stands on a busy Front Street in Nome.
Lisa Lynch on Front Street, Nome. Her deep red parka belonged to her mother. Her mukluks (fur boots) were made by her grandmother of walrus hide, beaver pelt, and reindeer skin. Her mittens came from a wolf hunted by her grandfather for her grandmother. Photo: Emily Hofstaedter, KNOM.

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