This documentary looks at a small community in Kodiak Island, Alaska, where committed individuals work to preserve the Alutiiq language spoken by Native American tribes that once thrived there. Director Karen Weinberg observes a language-immersion summer camp, after-school classes on Alutiiq culture, and a preschool that introduces young children to Alutiiq; she also crafts character studies of some of the women who teach the language. Though some of these women have troubling pasts, the profiles are generally upbeat, conveying how the educational project has given positive meaning to their lives. The emotional heart of the movie, though, lies in interviews with an adolescent Native American girl who finds empowerment in discovering the language and traditions of her ancestors. In English and subtitled Kodiak Alutiiq. 79 min.
By Ben Sachs