Blog 5: Teller

Teller Settlement




Teller is a federally recognized tribe that as of 2018 has a population of 237. It is located in the Nome census area, 72 miles northwest of Nome itself. Teller sits on the southern half of a spit of land that separated Port Clarence Bay from Grantley Harbor. This is all located on the Seward Peninsula. The whole village is not on the spit, it expands pretty far inland. The village has a total area of 2.1 square miles.    

Teller’s climate is located in the transitional climate zone. This means that it is mostly tundra with some boreal forest. They experience long, cold winters and short, warm summers. Grantley harbor, part of Port Clarence Bay, is usually ice-free from early June to mid-October. It has an average snowfall of 46.2   inches per year, with 76 days out of the year having precipitation. The average high temperature is about 30 ºF, and the average low temperature is about 17 ºF. The highest recorded temperature is 82 ºF, and the coldest recorded temperature is -36 ºF.  

In recent years, the Nome-Taylor Highway has been ruined by permafrost. The airport in Nome has had patches of permafrost thaw on the runway, causing expensive repairs. Teller is located next to the water of Point Clarence Bay, and with the permafrost thawing, their bluffs are susceptible to erosion.  

 Warming temperatures have caused sea levels to rise, and since Teller is a coastal community, they have been greatly affected by erosion. Storms are also a side effect of this climate change, contributing to the continuing erosion. Birds and mammals have also died off because they couldn’t adapt to the changing climate. They have also experienced extensive flooding, and are considered at risk for flooding by the Government Accountability Office. Because of the flooding and erosion, I think that Teller will have similar issues as Shishmaref, and will eventually have to move to a new location or just farther inland.  



The top three main forms of income that the residents of Teller have are public administration, health care and social assistance, and retail trade. Transportation and education are the next most popular forms of income. The average income per resident is about $10,000 per year, and the average income per household is about $26,000 per year. Both of these numbers are well below the national average. There has not been a recent economic boom, Teller’s unemployment rate is about 12%, and their job market rate has gone down by 0.5%. However, in the early 20th century, Teller had a large economic boom because it was a major trading center. The population was about 5,000 people compared to the 237 people in 2018. Tourism is essentially nonexistent in Teller. They have an airport, but there are no hotels or buildings aimed at tourism.  

Teller has an airport, which is mainly a landing strip. The airport is located pretty far away from Teller itself, you have to drive a few miles on the Nome-Teller Highway to get to the middle of the community. Teller consists of mainly residential buildings, and then there is the school and what seems to be a warehouse with several shipping containers surrounding it.  

Teller is a fishing community, and the residents fish from Salmon River, Pilgrim River, and Agiupuk River. They have several fish camps that they use during the summer, where they primarily catch red salmon. During the summer and winter, they fish for pike, and during the spring and fall, they fish for herring, whitefish, and tomcod. None of this fishing is for profit though, it is for subsistence. Nobody in Teller gains income by fishing, hunting or agriculture.  

For electricity, Teller uses a diesel generator, and fuel costs about $5.00 per gallon. Power is provided by the Alaska Village Electric Coop. Fuel is provided by the Teller Native Fuel Business. They receive their fuel by barge, and while there is no data on where the shipments come from, it can be assumed that they need to rely on shipments from larger communities like Nom. For water, they have a water treatment facility, but there is no data on what their primary source of water is or how many people have access to that water.

Leave a Reply