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I’m Going to Gambell!

“I’m going to Gambell,” I said.

Responses: “Oh, you’re going to win some money?”

Map of St. Lawrence Island

As a news reporter, my job is to listen to residents within the region. Each voice is important. This means that part of my job is to travel to these communities and have face-to-face time with those being impacted by local and global issues. Honestly, this was one of the things I was most looking forward to doing with KNOM. I truly enjoy sitting and listening to stories. Each person has wisdom, and I enjoy hearing it and learning about others in this way.

Main Street in Gambell, Alaska

Main Street in Gambell, Alaska

Over the past couple months, hunters in Gambell have found animals with oil on them. KNOM has been following the story, in constant contact with the Coast Guard and other local agencies that have been researching where the source might be. Laureli, our News Director, encouraged me to go to Gambell and speak with residents and find out the impact on the subsistence lifestyle.

Gambell's Airport

Gambell’s Airport

This was my first experience visiting a community outside of Nome. It was beautiful flying in over the mountains.

I was an outsider in a small community, but I was welcomed in very warmly. I arrived at the airport with no ride to my first destination, so an airport employee offered to drive me to town. I hopped on the back of his four-wheeler (my first time riding one). Before he drove away, he confirmed I was flying out in the afternoon and said he’d look for me if I wasn’t at the airport when the plane arrived.

After walking around town and interviewing various community members, my last stop was at a lodge to speak with members from the Native Corporation. Once I was done with my interview, I was invited to sit and have coffee with two gentlemen. I will always remember hearing about their opinions from how technology has impacted their culture, the loss of respect in the younger generations, and recipes. I will also remember sharing about Philadelphia, my heritage, and my educational background. I never in a million years would have thought I would be chatting about the Amish and Quakers in an Alaskan community.

So, what did I learn from my travels? In a nutshell, humility. I needed it to receive invitations from others – rides to my destinations around town and coffee and conversation. I am grateful for being warmly invited in to learn about each person in a unique way, including myself.