Teller, Alaska

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Bering Strait. Port Clarence bay is the large bight in the  southeast; Grantley Harbor extends inland to the east of it
Bering Strait. Port Clarence bay is the large bight in the southeast; Grantley Harbor extends inland to the east of it
Teller is located in Alaska
Location in Alaska
Coordinates: 65°15′26″N 166°21′14″W / 65.25722°N 166.35389°W / 65.25722; -166.35389Coordinates: 65°15′26″N 166°21′14″W / 65.25722°N 166.35389°W / 65.25722; -166.35389
Country United States
State Alaska
Census area Nome
Incorporated October 10, 1963[1]
 • Mayor Blanche Okbaok-Garnie[2]
 • Total 2.1 sq mi (5.5 km2)
 • Land 1.9 sq mi (5.0 km2)
 • Water 0.2 sq mi (0.5 km2)
Elevation 0 ft (0 m)
Population (2010)[3]
 • Total 229
 • Density 139.9/sq mi (54.0/km2)
Time zone Alaska (AKST) (UTC-9)
 • Summer (DST) AKDT (UTC-8)
ZIP code 99778
Area code 907
FIPS code 02-75930

Teller (Tala in Iñupiaq) is a city in Nome Census Area, Alaska, United States. At the 2010 census the population was 229.[3]

It is situated on the southern half of the spit called Nook (or "Nooke") in Inupiaq, which separates Port Clarence Bay (see also Port Clarence, Alaska) and Grantley Harbor, at the outlet of the Imuruk Basin.


Teller is located at 65°15′26″N 166°21′14″W / 65.25722°N 166.35389°W / 65.25722; -166.35389 (65.257294, -166.353807).[3]

Teller is located on a spit 116 km (72 mi) northwest of Nome on the Seward Peninsula.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.1 square miles (5.4 km2), of which 1.9 square miles (4.9 km2) is land and 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) (9.00%) is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1910 125
1920 80 −36.0%
1930 76 −5.0%
1940 118 55.3%
1950 160 35.6%
1960 217 35.6%
1970 220 1.4%
1980 212 −3.6%
1990 151 −28.8%
2000 268 77.5%
2010 229 −14.6%
Est. 2014 235 [4] 2.6%
U.S. Decennial Census[5]

As of the census [6] of 2000, there were 268 people, 76 households, and 61 families residing in the city. The population density was 139.9 people per square mile (53.9/km²). There were 87 housing units at an average density of 45.4 per square mile (17.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 7.46% White and 92.54% Native American. 0.37% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 76 households out of which 53.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.8% were married couples living together, 15.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 19.7% were non-families. 18.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.53 and the average family size was 3.80.

In the city the age distribution of the population shows 41.4% under the age of 18, 9.7% from 18 to 24, 26.5% from 25 to 44, 15.7% from 45 to 64, and 6.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 24 years. For every 100 females there were 135.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 134.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $23,000, and the median income for a family was $20,000. Males had a median income of $25,625 versus $31,250 for females. The per capita income for the city was $8,617. About 33.9% of families and 37.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 45.0% of those under the age of 18 and 27.8% of those 65 or over.


The Inupiat had a fishing camp called Nook 32 km (20 mi) south of Teller in the early 19th century.[verification needed] The 1825-28 Beechey expedition found three camps with a total of some 400 inhabitants and a winter camp site with burial grounds in a roughly 10-mile (16 km) radius around the later site of Teller on September 1, 1827.

An expedition from the Western Union telegraph spent the winter at the present site of Teller in 1866 and 1867; they called it "Libbyville" or "Libby Station". When the United States Government introduced reindeer herding in Alaska, the Teller Reindeer Station operated from 1892 to 1900 at a nearby site. The station was named for United States Senator and Secretary of the Interior Henry Moore Teller in 1892 by Sheldon Jackson.

Teller was established in 1900 after the Bluestone Placer Mine discovery 25 km (16 mi) to the south. It took its name from the reindeer herding station. During the boom years in the early 20th century, Teller had a population of about 5,000 and was a major regional trading center. Natives from Diomede, Wales, Mary's Igloo, and King Island came to trade there.

The Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church built Teller Mission across the harbor from Teller in 1900. The mission was renamed Brevig Mission in 1903, after the Reverend T.L. Brevig, who also served briefly as Teller's first postmaster, a post to which he was appointed 2 April 1900.[7]

The dirigible Norge detoured to Teller on its first flight over the North Pole from Norway to Nome in 1926. Many present residents of Teller came from Mary's Igloo. Mary's Igloo is now a summer fishing camp and has no permanent residents.

Today, Teller is an Inupiat village that depends on subsistence hunting and fishing.


Teller is served by the Bering Strait School District. James C. Isabell School serves grades Pre-K through 12.


  1. ^ 1996 Alaska Municipal Officials Directory. Juneau: Alaska Municipal League/Alaska Department of Community and Regional Affairs. January 1996. p. 148. 
  2. ^ 2015 Alaska Municipal Officials Directory. Juneau: Alaska Municipal League. 2015. p. 152. 
  3. ^ a b c "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  4. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  6. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  7. ^ Dickerson, Ora B. (1989) 120 Years of Alaska Postmasters, 1867-1987, p. 68. Scotts, Michigan: Carl J. Cammarata

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