This week on Frontiers, we take you to Nome for the 32nd annual Rural Providers’ Conference, a grassroots Native sobriety movement that moves to a new community every two years. This is RPC’s first time in Nome.

Many attend year after year. Some come to rededicate themselves to their sobriety. Others work in the treatment field and look for inspiration in the stories of recovery, shared at the gathering.

Conference organizers hope that by moving the location of the gathering, it will give people in different regions access to information about how to fight addiction, since treatment programs in Alaska are far and few between. The gathering also emphasizes traditional Native ways of healing, tools a community can incorporate in working with families.

At the Nome conference, there was a focus on historical trauma and racism — and their role in the cycle of addiction. It takes a tremendous amount of effort for a community to put on the gathering for two years in a row. Different groups have to work together. Donations and in-kind support are needed. It’s a process that helps the community later go on to achieve other goals.

RurAL CAP is the main sponsor of the conference. Its partner this year is Kawerak, a nonprofit representing about 20 communities in the Nome region.

Our guests this week on Frontiers are Doug and Amy Modig, longtime Alaska Native sobriety leaders, who now live in Anchorage.

They are part of a group known as stakeholders within the conference.

Every so often, the RPC chooses a couple to be the face of the Native sobriety movement — to hold a bundle of stakes to be used in a ceremony at the conference, where people make a pledge or prayer to stay sober. Once a new set of stakeholders is selected, they continue to meet and guide the conference.

Special thanks to:

Angela Gonzalez, communications coordinator for the Rural Alaska Community Action Program (RurAL CAP) for providing so many wonderful photographs of the Rural Providers’ Conference over the years.

Mike and Matt Faubion for their instrumental music.


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