This week on Frontiers, we have a colorful and lively program, as we look ahead to the state’s largest convention, which draws thousands of people from across the state.

This year’s Alaska Federation of Natives Convention (AFN) is expected to set new records for attendance.

There is nothing like it in America. Almost 50 years ago, AFN got its start in the fight for Native lands. Over the years, it continues to evolve.

Each year, delegates focus on different social, political and economic issues. This year’s theme is “Heroes in our Homeland,” showcasing ordinary people who do extraordinary things in their communities.

Some of the highlights of this week’s program:

    • Interview with two veteran Alaska Native journalists, Nellie Moore and Joaqlin Estus, who talk about what has made this gathering such a force in Alaska.
    • The economic impact of the AFN Convention, estimated to be as high as $6 million.
    • KTVA’s Heather Hintze profiles one of this year’s keynote speakers, Delores Churchill, a Haida elder who continues the ancient tradition of weaving baskets and hats with spruce roots.
    • KTVA’s Sierra Starks gives us the history of kuspuks, the go-to garb for AFN.
    • With all its breaths, grunts and groans, the art of throat singing — practiced by Canadian Inuit women. We visit with Kathy Kettler and Kendra Tagoona of Ottawa, who recently performed at the Alaska Native Heritage Center.

The Elders and Youth Conference, the warm-up to AFN, gets underway Monday. There’s a tribal conference at the Egan Center on Wednesday. AFN officially starts on Thursday morning at the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center. The gathering is open to the public.

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