Partnerships in Decolonizing Arctic Media
Today the global Arctic finds itself in a growing media spotlight. Arctic landscapes and ways of life are continuously featured in commercial media, from documentaries about climate catastrophe, to extreme reality TV. The vast majority of Arctic-centered projects geared to wide audiences are conceptualized from offices thousands of miles south, and produced and filmed by individuals who neither know nor have deep relationship to the landscape or its people. The Arctic is home to hundreds of indigenous communities, and most egregiously, so much showcasing of this region mishandles indigenous representation. Too frequently, majority-white media teams descend upon the landscape, take what they need, and leave. Where some projects completely ignore indigenous presence (as in the "vast unpeopled wilderness" narrative), others misrepresent the complexity of lived experience, or worse still, neglect indigenous sovereignty altogether through extractive practices that hearken to a contemporary digital colonialism. In response to the myriad of growing issues, this team, made up of researchers, filmmakers, and Alaska Native community leadership, is working together to re-frame media-making as key to sovereignty within postcolonial indigenous communities in the Arctic. Collaborative discussions will unpack local colonial histories of ethnography and problematic media representation. Together, this team will explore new strategies towards the re-framing and decolonizing of contemporary Arctic media, shifting both media production and representation agency to community members, for community-led purposes. Filmmakers, artists, and Alaska Native leaders will co-construct workshops to train indigenous community members who wish to become more involved in the mediation and representation of their communities through filmmaking and broader creative technological trajectories.