‘Reciprocity Project’ highlights Alaska Native filmmaking from the Interior
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - “We Will Walk the Trail of our Ancestors” is a short documentary about the culture of Gwich’in people and how it’s passed on from generation to generation.
Made by filmmakers from Interior Alaska, it is now featured as part of the Reciprocity Project, a series of seven films highlighting the climate crisis faced by Indigenous communities around the world. “It’s just such a beautiful film that I am truly proud of,” said Associate Producer Alisha Carlson.
“The Reciprocity Project is a group of Indigenous filmmakers from around the world who were able to explore this theme of what reciprocity means to us and to our communities,” explained Princess Daazhraii Johnson, who served as writer and provided additional cinematography for the project.
To find the meaning of reciprocity, the filmmakers turned to 1st Traditional Chief Trimble Gilbert. “Of course, we don’t have a direct translation in our language for ‘reciprocity’, but it is embedded in everything that we do and how we live and how we relate to the land and animals,” Johnson said, adding that the film is told entirely in the Gwich’in language. “It’s really important that we hear, and we speak, and we keep the language alive.”
The film’s makers hope to demonstrate the relationship between their culture and the environment around them, particularly with caribou. Carlson explained, “We are very connected to the caribou and seeing our connection with our land and animals is really important to us.”
Johnson added, “We’re at a transitional time where we’re starting to lose some of our elders, where we have this opportunity to really retain our language.”
The work was months in the making. “Five minutes is a short film, but it was a long, beautiful process,” Carlson recalled.
According to Johnson, “There’s a lot of work and energy that goes into filming and editing and sound design and color correction.”
The film has been shown at film festivals around the world. Carlson said, “I got feedback from many people saying they loved the connection that we had and they could just see all the love in the film.”
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