Wednesday, September 10, 2014

We Love Nome - Community of Teller

The morning dawns cool and clear, as we set out to drive to the Inupiaq community of Teller, where we will meet with several of our energy program clients. The 70-mile drive is one of our favorite drives here and we are eager to see the tundra blanketed in autumn colors.

At 8am, the light is just beginning to surface and we drive out the Nome-Teller Road. We are immediately smitten with the autumn colors that surround us and the road that winds, bends and curves across the vast landscape, between mountains and across rivers.

Between Nome and Teller, just a handful of houses can be seen. These are small shacks and most are without water and electricity, serving as seasonal cabins for locals.

Residents of Teller live a subsistence lifestyle of hunting, fishing and gathering. Tiny houses rest upon metal frames that keeps them off the ground and driveways are littered with snowmachines, four-wheelers and old trucks, all of which appear to run and provide year-round transportation.

The road to Teller is maintained by the State, but only from May to September, leaving residents dependent on boats and bush planes for supplies.

One million gallon tank holds the community's water and each house has a small 50 gallon fuel tank that provides fuel oil for stoves. Most homes uses wood for heat, although a few are serviced with electricity, thanks to generators.

On the surface, to us as outsiders, the lifestyle appears very simple and almost desperate, but after talking to clients who have lived in this community for years, we are told that the 250 residents choose to stay here for many reasons, including familial ties and a fiercely strong sense of pride and culture. A big thank you to Jim Stempfle for inviting us into his home and sharing so much about his life and time in Teller, the community he calls home.

1 comment:

Lorrene said...

Wow, what a remote place!