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Episode 35: Best of Frontiers, preserving Native languages & culture

By KTVA Alaska 8:16 AM December 28, 2015

When KTVA launched Frontiers in May of this year, our vision was to bring you the faces and places of Alaska, as well as the hopes and dreams of Alaskans.

We knew we would never run out of Frontiers to explore — that each show would tackle not only the challenges our state faces, but also look at potential solutions.

Looking back over the last eight months, we did do quite a few stories on preserving Alaska Native language and culture. In this Sunday’s program, we compiled some of our favorite pieces:

Inupiat: Voice of the Arctic. From Kaktovik to Kotzebue, KTVA’s Emily Carlson, along with photojournalists John Thain and Jacob Curtis, give us a look at how schools are keeping Inupiat alive, with the help of elders and modern social media.

Tlingit: Alive and Well in Juneau. With help from photographer Brian Hild and editor Rick Rysso, we bring you the words and wisdom of David Katzeek, regarded by many as the King of Tlingit oratory. We followed the elder on one of his weekly visits to Harborview Elementary School to share songs and stories with children.

The Store Outside Your Door. This summer, when photographer Jacob Curtis and I traveled to Nome for the Rural Provider’s Conference, we happily found ourselves invited to dinner at MaryJane Litchard’s house. From pickled walrus to dried salmon, the meal was made up entirely of traditional foods. Afterwards, MaryJane took us on a walk to find foods growing on the tundra, like fresh willow leaves.

The Kuspuk: Traditional Alaska Style. This is one of the stories I enjoyed the most this year on Frontiers. KTVA’s Sierra Starks spent some time with Bridget Kline, originally from the Yukon River community of St. Mary’s, to show us the art of making a kuspuk — an overshirt that is not only beautiful, but also practical and comfortable. We also hear from Theresa John from Toksook Bay about some of the history behind this forerunner of the modern “hoodie.”

As we leave 2015 in the rearview mirror, I’d like to say a few words about some of what goes on behind the scenes.

There is, of course, the commitment of KTVA management to carve out space for a show like Frontiers. In television markets elsewhere in the nation, public affairs shows, especially of the caliber of Frontiers, are relatively rare – even in larger markets.

Our executive producer, Gina Romero, is the heart and soul of Frontiers, always looking for ways to look deeper into the issues of our day. She has also compiled our photo galleries, a place where our viewers can share their photos. To me, these galleries have given the show a feeling of “connectedness” with our viewers.

We have been blessed with an excellent technical crew, the same one which brings you Daybreak every weekday morning. They, along with our reporters and photojournalists, take a lot of pride in making Frontiers the best it can be. So, for me, it’s been an honor to be part of a program that showcases so many talents and creative energies — a taste of what we aspire to at KTVA 11 News on a daily basis.

We feel that there’s never been a show quite like Frontiers and look forward to exploring some new Alaskan landscapes in 2016. Whether its politics, history, Alaska Native culture, the economy, wildfires, climate change or the challenges of life in Rural Alaska, every week we have a chance to bring the Alaskan experience home to you.

From all of us at KTVA, have a Happy New Year!

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