Imagine an Alaska where rural and urban youth are on the forefront of vital humanities cultural documentation. Inspired by such a vision, Kodiak-based nonprofit Media Action applied for and won the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant to create InterAK, a web-portal serving Alaskan teachers, youth and the public.
InterAK’s innovative design will train Alaskan teachers to help their students document their elders, cultures, and communities via film, photography, and audio recordings, and in turn students can upload and blog about their films and other material. The Alaskan public can view this material to gain insight through the eyes of youth on Alaskan cultures.
Media Action staff founded the nonprofit in 2010 to empower youth and communities to share their stories through media production and educational opportunities. A series of successful cultural film workshops in Nikolai, Alaska, in partnership with Atheneum School the Nikolai Edzeno Village Council, culminated in the youth of Nikolai winning an award at the 2010 Anchorage International Film Festival. Inspired by the transformative power for youth of authoring their own community stories, Media Action sought to scale-up the model via teacher training and the NEH grant. Over the next year Media Action will build and pilot the portal in several schools throughout the state.
One Inupiat youth filmmaker living in Nikolai summed up her experience in a film workshop with the following statement: “My future for film making is growing. This experience… has inspired me to continue to make films, and learn more about documentaries.” The InterAK web portal will not only allow her to continue her work, but also allow people around the state to learn from her.