One Cool Thing: With Molly of Denali, Native Americans Get A Plucky Animated Heroine

This fall, PBS premiered a new animated show called Molly of Denali, that “stars” a ten-year-old girl from the Alaskan Athabascan Tribe with a bush pilot for a mother, a wilderness-guide dad, and a diverse cast of Alaskan friends and neighbors. Outside Magazine described it as “Dora the Explorer meets Northern Exposure, except that as the first show with an Alaska Native as its star, it’s in a category all its own.”  Princess Daazhraii Johnson, a creative producer for the series, makes sure Molly of Denali accurately presents Alaska Native values, language, and culture. And rather than just bring in a tribal member as a consultant, Daazhraii Johnson includes indigenous people whenever possible — from voicing the characters to writing scripts, to helping with animation. The show gives young Native Americans (and other kids from diverse backgrounds) an authentic role model who looks like them, while also introducing Alaska’s spectacular (and rapidly changing) environmental and cultural landscape to kids in the Lower 48. “She’s Molly of Denali” — and she is irresistible!

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