Alaska Senior Editor Michelle Theall shares Alaskan portraits from her time traveling and meeting people around the state. For this photo Theall writes, “When you live in Utqiagvik at the edge of the world, you make your own fun. Three kids sit atop a roof to rest after a day of biking along the Arctic Ocean. In typical Inupiat villages, seal pelts hang off ATVs and meat dries on sawhorses in front of homes. Gas is $7.00 a gallon and a two-liter bottle of Coca-Cola will cost you $10. However, bike riding and climbing on a neighbor’s shed remain free for now.”
If you live or work in Alaska, you know that life here is different: simultaneously slower, harder, and more adventurous than in the Lower 48. People are fiercely independent, yet friendly. Communities possess unique personalities, defined in large part by their denizens or tourist offerings. Climbing and mining towns, Native villages, artists’ enclaves, and fishing meccas shape and are shaped by the people who occupy them. Sit at any saloon in any locale, and you’re likely to meet someone interesting. And despite the remote location of the Last Frontier, people just keep coming. In fact, the population of the state has been steadily rising in double-digit percentages each decade of the census to its current high of more than 730,000 people. Of course, that’s still sparsely populated compared to other places, especially given the massive size of the state. If you spread out all those folks over Alaska’s 665,384 square miles, you’d bump into a single person every square mile. But we guarantee you this: each one would have a story worth hearing and a face reflecting their time in Alaska.