Native America Calling receives National Humanities Medal

by Mar 24, 2023A&E, NEWS ka-no-he-da0 comments

Anchorage, Alaska – Native America Calling, a program of the Alaska-based Koahnic Broadcast Corporation, is a recipient of the National Humanities Medal from The National Endowment for the Humanities. The award was presented to Koahnic’s president and chief executive officer, Jaclyn Sallee, by U.S. President Joe Biden at a White House ceremony on Tuesday, March 21.

Since 1995, the live call-in program Native America Calling has brought public radio stations, listeners, and online audiences together every weekday for a thought-provoking national conversation about issues specific to Native communities.

Each Native America Calling program connects noted guests and experts with callers throughout the United States, and it is the only program of its kind that focuses on Native American issues.

“We are grateful and humbled to receive this recognition for Native America Calling’s service to listeners across the nation, and for Native communities in particular,” said Sallee, who is Iñupiaq.

“Koahnic was founded in the early 1990s by a visionary group of Alaska Native leaders who saw a media environment where Native people barely existed,” said Sallee. “Native America Calling was developed in 1995 by Native producers working together from Alaska, New Mexico, and Nebraska to create a much-needed broadcast forum for Native public affairs.”

Over the last three decades, Native America Calling, other Native-made programming, and Native-operated radio stations have ensured that Native voices and viewpoints are part of our national conversations.

The National Humanities Medal, inaugurated in 1997, is a prestigious honor presented to 12 or fewer awardees per year whose work has “deepened the nation’s understanding of the humanities and broadened our citizens’ engagement with history, literature, languages, philosophy, and other humanities subjects.”

Past honorees include public radio host/producer Terry Gross, Director Steven Spielberg, The Iowa Writers Workshop, Novelist Toni Morrison, and musician Elton John. Native America Calling is the first non-individual Native honoree to-date.

“The humanities help us to understand ourselves as humans, what connects us. Ensuring Native voices have a platform and that our stories are told and heard is immensely important,” said Sallee.

Other recipients of the award included: Richard Blanco, Johnnetta Betsch Cole, Walter Isaacson, Earl Lewis, Henrietta Mann, Ann Patchett, Bryan Stevenson, Amy Tan, Tara Westover, Colson Whitehead, and Sir Elton John.

  • Koahnic Broadcast Corporation release