Alaska is a state full of passion projects – people who get a notion to do something simply because it needs to be done – or often, something that hasn’t been done before  -- or is taken to a new level. Almost always, these projects are spawned from a love of the state and its people. 

And such is the case with the book, Children of the Midnight Sun.

The idea for this book hatched when Tricia Brown and Roy Corral worked for Alaska Magazine almost a quarter of a century ago. Corral was a staff photographer and Brown was his editor. They became good friends and envisioned a book that would look at the state through the eyes of Alaska Native children, full of colorful photographs and stories about their day-to-day lives. 

Corral and Brown hoped their book would bring about a greater appreciation of the diversity of Alaska Native culture – and how children play a role in keeping culture alive.

It was a project financed mostly out of their own pockets. They bought Mark Air tickets with their Permanent Fund Dividends, slept on floors and accepted hospitality from people in the communities they visited. The result was profiles of eight children, and while each lived in vastly different landscapes and climates, they had one thing in common -- love of family and culture.

This year Brown and Corral released their second book, which features a new generation. The students in the first project are now grown with kids of their own.

In this episode of Frontiers, we look at the two groups of children, both then and now.

Also in this program:

  • Native Regalia: Jacqueline Morris is this week’s featured guest. She and other Native parents pushed to change the Anchorage School District’s dress code at high school graduations -- to allow Native students to wear traditional clothing and cultural treasures. Mark Trahant, editor of Indian Country Today, also weighs in on the regalia debate, which is being played out in school districts across the United States. 
  • Yup’ik Dancing: Courtesy of KYUK, Bethel’s public radio and TV station, we take you to the Cama-i Dance Festival. Maryann Sundown, known as the Dancing Diva, may be gone but her influence on Yup’ik dance is alive and well. KYUK’s Katie Basile and Alaska Public Media’s Joey Mendolia bring you her legacy of love and laughter.

This week’s show is indeed a stuffed suitcase, packed full of stories about the importance of culture and its power to bring people together and give meaning to life. It seems we can never have enough programs on this subject – and in a state like Alaska, we will never run out of stories to share.


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