Native American Stories Take Center Stage on PBS: "New Worlds" Showcased in Alaska
By Kyler Edsitty
Anchorage, Alaska - In a groundbreaking event hosted by KNBA Radio and Native Public Media, the significance of Native American stories in mainstream media took center stage as over 200 attendees gathered for an exclusive screening of "New Worlds," the first episode of the highly anticipated documentary series, "Native America 2.0." New Worlds highlighted Native innovators at the forefront of music, architecture, and space exploration, showcasing their profound impact on Earth and other worlds.
The screening event, held in Anchorage, Alaska, coincided with the 2023 Elders and Youth Conference, making it an ideal platform to showcase the incredible achievements of Native Americans. The episode explored a broad spectrum of topics, including innovation, Native knowledge, and Native pride, resonating deeply with the sentiments expressed at the annual conference.
"New Worlds" showcases the lives of Native innovators, drawing connections between their contributions to fields as diverse as space travel, the New York City hip-hop scene, and life on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The documentary highlighted the pivotal role of Native traditions in transforming life on Earth and beyond, emphasizing their continued relevance in the modern world.
Following the screening, Antonia Gonzales, anchor and producer of "National Native News," hosted a panel discussion. The panel featured local Native innovators who offered their insights into the themes explored in New Worlds. Filmmaker Alex Sallee, musician Witty Youngman, and artist Drew Michael shared their perspectives on bringing Native stories to the forefront of public consciousness.
Gonzales noted that New Worlds struck a chord with the panelists, who identified with the representations they saw on screen. They emphasized the critical need for Native representation across all facets of life, regardless of one's profession – whether an engineer, astronaut, DJ, filmmaker, artist, or musician. The panelists underscored the significance of inspiring and empowering Native youth to pursue their dreams, showcasing role models who look like them and have achieved greatness in their respective fields.
Gonzales, who expertly guided the panel discussion, emphasized the main takeaways from the event. "Indigenous stories are not only wanted but needed," she said. "The importance of telling these stories from Indigenous perspectives, and by Indigenous people, cannot be overstated." She expressed her pleasure at hosting the panel and facilitating a conversation that highlighted the significance of Native American narratives and the critical role they play in shaping the cultural landscape.