The purpose of the Molly of Denali social media campaign is to create an online community for fans of the series and to give Alaska Native culture another avenue to be celebrated. Our social media channels are meant to help amplify some of the educational values of the show and to make sure fans can find complimentary materials like apps, games, and educational resources. Our social media pages aim to create and nuture a community that seeks to either learn more about Alaska Native culture or share aspects of their culture with others. Alaska Native peoples, along with other Indigenous communities, have often been misrepresented or invisible in media. It is the hope that Molly of Denali, the first children’s series to feature an Alaska Native lead, can help to accurately portray and celebrate the life of Native peoples living in Alaska.
Using Molly of Denali episodes as inspiration, our social media campaign aims to expand the resources available for others to learn more about Alaska Native culture. We create graphics, audiograms and challenges to educate about Alaska Native culture and values as well as to give our followers an opportunity to share about their culture with us. There are 20 official Alaska Native languages and many fans expressed an interest in learning more about these words or demonstrated an excitement at hearing their language used for the first time in media. One of our strategies is to create “Alaska Native Word of the Week” graphics. In the show, we use words from several Native languages as part of our regular dialogue. On social, we create accompanying audiograms that help fans to see the meaning of the Native words, the language of origin, and hear the correct pronunciation. We feel providing resources to learn more about these words is particularly important because many Alaska Native languages have no official dictionary and many Alaska Native people were forced to stop speaking their Native language. These two factors have led to these languages being at risk of becoming extinct.
Another strategy we employ is to create "Did You Know" images that share facts about life in Alaska. These graphics serve to educate those about life in Alaska, and to counter the fictionalized or dramatized version of Alaska life often portrayed on reality shows or in other forms of media. Additionally, these graphics are a way to celebrate the unique qualities about life in the great state of Alaska and gives those living in Alaska a chance to share about their own experiences.
Another tool we use to meet our objectives is our “Informational Text Challenges.” These graphics challenge our followers to identify plants and animals indigenous to Alaska, recall factors about Alaska or Alaska Native peoples or describe steps necessary to accomplish tasks specific to life in Alaska such as making birch syrup or polishing agate rocks. These challenges offer an opportunity for Alaska Natives to share their Native names for the given challenge answer, to discuss the cultural significance of said answer and an opportunity to discuss their personal experience with the answer to the challenge. We hope to continue to create content to nurture this community, to continue to celebrate life in Alaska, and to educate people about Alaska Native culture and values.
Molly of Denali launched as a podcast in June and then premiered on PBS KIDS on July 15th. Considering that this brand and characters are completely new to families and educators, we are pleased to have already grown our social media following across platforms to over 15,000 followers. We have had over 80,000 instances of engagement and we have reached over 21 million people since the creation of our channels in May, 2019.
More important than numbers, we have had an incredible response to our posts on social media. We continually hear from fans how important it is for them to see their culture or life in Alaska talked about and celebrated. Many followers have told us they have felt invisible in the media for a long time, and they are thrilled to see characters, topics and values that they identify with. We are very thankful to be able to house these conversations and help people learn about Alaska Native culture.