Arctic Cross: Journey into Orthodox Alaska

Are you looking for a worthwhile cause to support? Visionary documentary filmmaker Dimitry Trakovsky has successfully secured enough micro donations to fund his filming and production of a feature-length documentary examining the history, struggles and personal agency of Yup’ik Alaskan natives in the context of their Orthodox Christian faith, but he still needs encouragement!

Here is the link to the beautiful 10 minute intro trailer for the documentary film “Arctic Cross”. Working through the Kickstarter micro donation program, project producer/director Dmitry Trakovsky set an initial goal of $5,000. As of March 23, 2012, he successfully garnered this amount of funding through a host of small donations. Professional anthropologists, Orthodox seminarians, and many interested young and ordinary people looking to raise awareness of the problems facing the Yup’ik people came together to contribute to make possible the production of a feature-length film.

This short trailer, with its interspacing of beautiful natural images amid interviews with a local, endearing Yup’ik elder, the village priest, a local native anthropologist, and several struggling locals, gives a strong sense of the stark contrasts of life for many Alaska natives.

The awe-inspiring natural scenery of this wild land, and the hidden beauty of outwardly simple wooden Russian churches, stands in stark opposition to the crushing cyclic poverty and addiction problems facing local natives.

This film examines how Yup’ik Alaskans are dealing with decades of alcoholism, drug and domestic abuse, and the cycle of debt-induced poverty and lack of access to education.

When the US “purchased” Alaska from the Russian Empire in what was then known as “Seward’s Folly” in 1867, white Protestant missionaries journeyed north, believing they were setting out to convert heathen nations. These missionaries practiced a kind of ‘cultural imperialism’ against the mostly Orthodox Christian native peoples they encountered. They removed Yup’ik children from their traditional homes and local customs, forbade them from speaking their native languages, and tried to compel them to adapt to white ‘Anglo’ culture. Trakovsky’s film explores the at times inspiring, but often tragic legacy of this largely unknown period in American history.

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