America Reframed: We Breathe Again

America Reframed: We Breathe Again

Sat, 11/25/2017 - 10:00pm

Earl “Keggulluk” Polk (Yup’ik) teaches a dance to the youth at Camp Pigaaq in Sady Creek, Alaska.

Photo by Marsh Chamberlain.

For centuries survival was difficult for Alaska Native peoples, but they lived full lives. Today survival is easier, but they are dying young. Alaska Native peoples sustained their way of life through a social, cultural and spiritual balance, but the traumatic ramifications of colonization have left many scars that continue to be passed down from generation to generation. 

Rarely heard of 40 years ago, suicide among Alaska Native peoples is now a silent epidemic 3.5 times higher than the national average, affecting Alaska Native men between the ages of 15-24 at the highest rate in the country. Alaska's rate of alcohol-related deaths is more than double the rest of the nation, with Alaska Natives accounting for half of those deaths. We Breathe Again, airing Saturday, November 25, 2017 at 10 p.m. on WXXI World, explores the intimate stories of five Alaska Natives who are each confronting the impacts of historical trauma in their lives.