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Banner Creek, Alaska: A Home Away From Nome

Posted on Wednesday, February 18th, 2009.

Banner Creek Recording Kit en Route

Banner Creek is a neighborhood 12 miles outside of Nome. Facilitator Anahma Saito lives there with her family. This weekend StoryCorps Nome moved to the country to record her neighbors’ stories. Banner Creek became a neighborhood when a group of friends moved out of Nome in the 1970’s looking for a place to live where they could raise their dogs and mush in open country. Many residents continue to mush including StoryCorps participants Marianna Mallory, 10 and Maisie Thomas, 11 and Conor Thomas, 53. And many of the stories involved mushing.

Though some residents have running water and internet, none have phone lines. In the winter everyone parks their cars up on the Kugorak Road and snowmachines or walks home. If you want to know what people are up to, you just look towards the road. In between interviews, we’d have coffee with participants and more than once, people noted the whereabouts of their other neighbors: “Nope the Mallory’s didn’t go to church today, too cold, or, I thought I saw your truck over here and thought I’d say hi.” Resident Margaret Thomas explained, “It gets really interesting when someone in the neighborhood starts seeing someone new.’

Banner Creek’s listening booth consisted of the one-room cabin where Anahma gave birth to her daughter last year. Setting-up consisted of pulling the recording equipment (and the generator to power it) over to the cabin by a sled.

Banner Creek Recording Booth

Neighbors walked, skied, and snowmachined to the cabin’s front door to share their stories. Recording highlights included hearing the youngest members of the community describe what its like growing up in Banner Creek. Another highlight included a man who walked in silently with is wife, sat down, and began speaking with these words, “I’m gonna tell you about the love of my life.” What followed was a love story for the books. The Banner Creek recordings concluded with StoryCorps’ local radio producer being interviewed by her seven year old daughter about one of the most meaningful moments of her life: her daughter’s birth.

Having spent not a wit of time outside all weekend, Anahma and I took advantage of the full moon on Sunday night for a midnight walk. It was clear from that late hour why people would choose to forego certain conveniences in order to live in this place. StoryCorps participant Conor Thomas had concluded his interview saying “a good mush goes a long way.” And so does a good view.

Nome Facilitator

8 Responses to “Banner Creek, Alaska: A Home Away From Nome”

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  • Hey Elise! You look and sound really happy, but we are looking forward to you being back here in Gustavus. Looking forward to seeing you in July!

    Comment from Chris Spute on March 1, 2009 at 5:26 pm - Reply to this Comment
  • thanks so much for story corps banner creek project it was weird finding my parents name and manya’s and my names
    thanks again!!!!!!!!!!!

    Comment from maisie on February 24, 2009 at 3:47 pm - Reply to this Comment
  • i was one of the story corps interviewees i did not know everything i said was going on this website but i think it was cool how elise mentioned manya my dad mon and i this is so weird going on line and finding my name and the names and pictures of people in know living in my neiborhood. who said the love of my life thing? my geuss is bill

    thanks so much for story corps banner creek project

    Comment from maisie on February 24, 2009 at 3:45 pm - Reply to this Comment
  • Also Elise, I like your StoryCorps bio. I didn’t know you were a twin.

    Comment from Andy on February 24, 2009 at 1:02 pm - Reply to this Comment
  • these words and pictures are so evocative. its amazing to think of the vast range of lived experiences all headed to the archive . . .

    Comment from Anna on February 20, 2009 at 12:23 pm - Reply to this Comment
  • wonderful Story Elise! Wish I were there! :)

    Comment from Robynn Jones on February 19, 2009 at 12:29 pm - Reply to this Comment
  • Brilliant story, Elise. It makes me want to take a midnight walk, albeit with the proper Winter attire. And I love that Alaskans use the term “snowmachine” as a verb. Guess it makes sense.

    Comment from Andy on February 19, 2009 at 11:03 am - Reply to this Comment
  • Nice Elise. There is so much that is obvious behind your words. At least for another accustomed to life in Alaska. Kudos.

    Comment from Trevor Ose on February 18, 2009 at 7:48 pm - Reply to this Comment

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