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Native America Calling awarded National Humanities Medal

Jaclyn Sallee receives National Humanities Medal from President Joe Biden at the White House
Susan Walsh
President Joe Biden presents the 2021 National Humanities Medal to Jaclyn Sallee on behalf of Native America Calling, at White House in Washington, Tuesday, March 21, 2023.

Anchorage, Alaska – Koahnic Broadcast Corporation is pleased to announce that its daily public affairs show Native America Calling is a recipient of the 2021 National Humanities Medal from The National Endowment for the Humanities. The award will be presented to Koahnic’s President and CEO, Jaclyn Sallee, by U.S. President Joe Biden at a White House ceremony 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 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 Koahnic’s President and CEO, Jaclyn 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.

About Native America Calling and Koahnic Broadcast Corporation.

Native America Calling, a production of Koahnic Broadcast Corporation, is produced in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and heard on nearly 90 public, community and tribal radio stations in the United States and in Canada. Shawn Spruce (Laguna Pueblo) is the Host and Producer of the program, assisted by Senior Producer Andi Murphy (Diné), Associate Producer Sol Traverso (Athabascan, Puerto Rican), Production Engineer Marino Spencer (Diné) and Executive Producer Art Hughes.

Koahnic Broadcast Corporation, established in 1992, is a multimedia Native American production and distribution nonprofit located in Anchorage, Alaska, and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Koahnic operates public radio station KNBA, and produces and distributes National Native News, Native America Calling, The RIVR, Indigefi, and also operates Native Voice One (NV1) the national Native radio distribution service. Koahnic Broadcast Corporation is committed to amplifying Native voices throughout Alaska and the nation.

Seo McPolin was born and raised in Chicago. They have worked and volunteered in public media since they were 12 years old, starting with PBS and NPR affiliates WTTW and WBEZ. After stops at Wisconsin Public Radio, APM’s Marketplace, Air America Radio, and The Tavis Smiley Show, they became Digital News Editor for Ireland’s public broadcaster and created the country’s only 24-hour news channel RTÉ News Now. They later became Executive Producer of Smiley & West and The Tight Rope with Cornel West and Tricia Rose. Seo is occasionally heard on NPR newscasts and the NPR News Now podcast covering breaking stories.