Not the middle of nowhere

We’re talking far off to the edge. This was just another item from RadioInsight, but it led me to other stuff. Prepare for Major Tangent Exploration:

Gambell, AK is located on St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Strait closer to the Russian mainland than North America. The Nome Seventh-Day Adventist Church has applied to bring the first radio station to Gambell operating with 90 watts at 9 meters on 89.3. The new station would operate as a satellite of 89.3 KQQN Nome (Coverage Map).

Wikipedia reports on the town:

St. Lawrence Island has been inhabited sporadically for the past 2,000 years by both Alaskan Yup’ik and Siberian Yupik people. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the island had a population of about 4,000.

Between 1878 and 1880 a famine decimated the island’s population. Many who did not starve left. The remaining population of St. Lawrence Island was nearly all Siberian Yupik.

Checking out the island itself (current population about 1,300):

The island contains two villages: Savoonga and Gambell. The two villages were given title to most of the land on St. Lawrence Island by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act in 1971. As a result of having title to the land, the Yupik are legally able to sell the fossilized ivory and other artifacts found on St. Lawrence Island.

Savoonga, you should know, is the Walrus Capital of the World. But this story from Gambell tore at the old heartstrings:

In 1982, George Guthridge brought his wife and two young daughters to Gambell, Alaska, a small village on the edge of the remote blizzard-swept St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea, one of the harshest and most remote places in Alaska. Guthridge was there to teach at a Siberian-Yupik school — a school so troubled it was under threat of closure.

For its own reasons, the school district enters the students into one of the most difficult academic competitions in the nation. The school has no computers and very few books. The students lack world knowledge and speak English as a second language. Still, George resolves to coach them to a state championship. But the students have an even greater goal of their own.

And I have to grin at Guthridge’s bio:

I have published over 70 short stories and five novels, and have been a finalist for the Hugo Award and twice for the Nebula Award, for science fiction and fantasy. In 1998 my coauthor, Janet Berliner, and I won the Bram Stoker Award for the year’s best horror novel.

I am probably best known for having coached ten students from the Siberian-Yupik (Eskimo) village of Gambell, on blizzard-swept St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea, to national championships in academics. They became the only Native American team ever to do that — and they did it twice.

Oh, and this is what they did.

If you’re curious, Guthridge and Berliner won that Bram Stoker award for Children of the Dusk, the third and final novel in the Madagascar Manifesto series.

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1 comment

  1. jsallison »

    29 May 2015 · 7:55 pm

    I’ve heard of that town only because I was a fan of Flying Wild Alaska and ‘the worst eskimo, evah! I HATE the cold!’ Ariel Tweeto.

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