Where the River Begins

A film by Takashi Sakurai,
Country: USA,
Duration: 13min,
Language: Iñupiaq,
SubtitlesEnglish,
Year: 2003

Aliitchak, an Iñupiak elder living in the Kobuk River village of Ambler, persists in narrating local history and folktales in her native language.  The film follows Aliitchak’s subsistence activities at summer fish camp and her day-to-day activities in her home village.  Where the River Begins explores the struggle of Kobuk River people to maintain their language and cultural identity in a rapidly changing world.
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Joe Sun

A film by Leonard Kamerling, Sarah Elder,
Country: USA,
Duration: 20min,
Language: Iñupiaq,
Subtitles: English,
Year: 1975

Joe Sun, an Iñupiaq elder from the village of Shungnak, grew up moving among seasonal camps in the Kobuk River Valley region of Alaska.  He tells of the legendary Iñupiaq prophet, Maniilaq, who predicted that “people with a different language would come and live among the Iñupiaq, and from that point on, everything would be changed.  He even predicted that people would start traveling in the air.” Joe Suns talk is known as an uqaaqtuaq. Elders gave such talks to young people who came seeking information or advice.
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