BNC, GCI celebrate partnership with community event

More than 250 Bethel residents gathered to learn more about the Airraq Network and participate in family-friendly Halloween festivities.

Bethel Native Corporation (BNC) and GCI celebrated their partnership on the recently-announced Airraq Network (pronounced EYE-huk) with a community Halloween celebration in Bethel. More than 400 community members attended and the Orutsararmiut Native Council (ONC) Multipurpose Building was filled with candy, costumes, and conversations about connectivity.

While the afternoon was full of family-friendly Halloween festivities, the highlight of the event was the Airraq station, where local Airraq enthusiasts demonstrated techniques of the age-old pastime. Airraq is a traditional Yup’ik game similar to cat’s cradle and translates to “string that tells the story.”

“It was fun to be with so many members of the community at this gathering. People of all ages played games, shared stories and had a happy Halloween together.” said BNC Board Chairman Lyman Hoffman. “The Airraq Network will deliver connectivity that will be transformational for the region. The investment being made today is an investment that will continue to serve the next generation.”

The Airraq Network is a 405-mile fiber-optic network that will deliver affordable, 2 gig residential internet speeds and unlimited data plans to more than 10,000 people in 10 Western Alaska communities, including: Bethel, Platinum, Eek, Napaskiak, Oscarville, Atmautluak, Kasigluk, Nunapitchuk, Quinhagak, and Tuntutuliak.

“This event was a huge hit! It means so much to me and the GCI team to celebrate with our friends in Bethel,” said GCI Rural Affairs Director Jenifer Nelson. “A project and a celebration like this would not be possible without strong partnership with the Bethel Native Corporation and support from the Orutsararmiut Native Council. We’re excited to work closely with our partners and the community at large to bring affordable, high-speed internet to Bethel and nearby Y-K Delta communities.”

Want to learn more about the Airraq network? Watch this video, featuring BNC President & CEO Ana Hoffman: