2018 Annual Grants Announced

Nearly $80,000 in funding will be provided to eight annual grant proposals that support the mission of the Alaska Humanities Forum: educate the public; get people talking; increase public access; preserve and promote Alaska’s stories. From conversations to documentaries to exhibitions to books, these grant projects represent the entire state in scope and subject.


14 Miles | $9,850 Ellen Frankenstein | Artchange, Inc.

14 Miles is a documentary project set in Sitka, AK. From one end of town to the other, there’s 14 miles of road. While the distance is not long, the potential to engage people in creating a series of micro-documentaries about place, identity, and values is abundant. The 14 Miles project will encourage online discourse about these three- to four-minute films. Additionally, the project team will host public gatherings and a series of locally generated tours.

Alaska Water Wars | $10,000 Daysha Eaton | Daysha Eaton

In 2018, Alaska Water Wars will bring to life the resource development conflict over a proposal to open the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas development, elevating and amplifying voices of indigenous peoples of the Interior and North Slope regions. Although ANWR is usually framed as a lands issue, oil and gas drilling there would impact waters – including lakes, lagoons, deltas and glaciers – and is connected to the Beaufort Sea. Under the Trump administration, public lands, which are the traditional territories of indigenous people, are quickly opening to resource development. Alaska Water Wars will make indigenous Alaskan voices and perspectives central to the storytelling.

Eyes Closed - Living Stories of Anchorage's Children | $10,000 Shirley M. Staten & Gabriela Olmos | Keys to Life

Keys to Life will create an exhibition and accompanying book, which will be called “Eyes Closed.” They will consist of a visual representation of the dreams and stories, along with the portraits of the authors of those stories - 16 of Anchorage's immigrant and underserved children.

The panels will be strategically placed around the city, introducing diversity in a symbolic way, and promoting cross-cultural understanding through an artistic form. Public programs, school curriculum, and a cross-city exchange will follow in order to foster interaction and understanding throughout the community.

IllumiNative | $10,000 Loren Anderson | Alaska Native Heritage Center

The 2-year IllumiNative project will showcase Dena’ina culture via three approaches. ANHC will erect, at 11 different Dena’ina sites, signs that include information about the name and historical significance of each. ANHC will purchase two digital kiosks, one to be placed at the Heritage Center and one to be placed at the Anchorage Visitor’s Center, and contract with a software developer to create programming and load it on the kiosks featuring a variety of interactive information including videos and virtual reality experiences. ANHC will work with artists to create both permanent and temporary art installations at select sites recognizing and highlighting Dena’ina historical significance in Anchorage.

Our Alaskan Stories | $10,000 Peter Bradley | Island Institute

Our Alaskan Stories is the Island Institute’s student filmmaking program based at Mt Edgecumbe High School. For the last two years of the project, they've worked with filmmakers and small groups of students at Alaska's state-run boarding school for rural Alaskan students in order to help the students share their stories of home. After sharing the latest batch of films with the student body at Mt Edgecumbe, nearly a third of the students put up their hands when asked if they'd like to share a story about home in this way. This grant funding will allow them to expand the reach of the films while deepening the quality of experience for the young filmmakers.

Ping Chong + Co Undesirable Elements: Juneau Histories | $10,000 Nancy DeCherney | Juneau Arts and Humanities Council

Ping Chong + Co "Undesirable Elements: Juneau Histories" examines a range of forgotten and overlooked histories of the Juneau community as it undergoes rapid change. Working with artists, community members, civic, and cultural leaders, through an interview process, the Company will help unearth and examine deep-seated issues, and facilitate dialogue around them to build greater cultural understanding and appreciation for this place.

Revisiting the Lost Villages of the Aleutian Islands | $10,000 Lauren Adams | Unalaska Community Broadcasting, Inc. (KUCB Radio/TV)

During World War II, the Aleutian Islands became a front line in the Pacific theater. The arrival of war resulted in mass relocation of the Unangan people. Several villages were never resettled. Evacuation had a profound impact on culture and identity, which continues to resonate today.

Funding will support public media productions for radio, television, and multimedia. The productions would weave together archival content and conversations with second-, third-, and even fourth-generation descendants about their quest to recover family history and restore cultural identity that was disrupted by World War II. These productions will share stories of how the people of the Aleutians were forever affected by the War.

We Up: Indigenous Hip-Hop of the Circumpolar North | $10,000 David Holthouse | Anchorage Museum Association

We Up: Indigenous Hip-Hop of the Circumpolar North combines a feature-length documentary film and accompanying traveling exhibit that will tell the stories and showcase talent from Alaska and around the arctic. Forty years after hip-hop culture was born in the South Bronx, its “four elements” – rapping (MCng), breakdancing, graffiti, and turntablism (DJng) – are being reinterpreted in fascinating ways by young Indigenous artists in far-flung places of the circumpolar north.

From Sami reindeer-herding towns in Finnmark to public housing blocks in Nuuk, Greenland, to remote Iñupiaq and Yup’ik villages in Alaska, Indigenous northern hip-hop artists are challenging stereotypes, revitalizing endangered languages, and grafting timeless traditions and stories onto a new medium, all while creating the most dynamic hip-hop music, dance, and visual art that most of the world has never seen or heard.


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