On Topic with Jim Johnsen explores Alaska Natives in culture and film

sidebar menu toggle button On Topic with Jim Johnsen explores Alaska Natives in culture and film

This week’s On Topic episode's guest is Princess Daazhraii Johnson, creative producer for the new PBS KIDS show MOLLY OF DENALI. This episode explores her role in making the animated children’s program a reality and discusses the representation of Alaska Native peoples and cultures in film.


“When WGBH first reached out about the project MOLLY OF DENALI, I was so excited,” said Johnson. “I immediately thought of myself as a little girl and what a show like this would have meant to me.”


Johnson is Neets’aii Gwich’in and her family is from Arctic Village, Alaska. Princess received a B.A. in International Relations from The George Washington University and a Masters in Education at the University of Alaska Anchorage with a focus on Environmental and Science Education.


MOLLY OF DENALI is the first nationally distributed children’s series to feature a Native American lead character, Molly Mabray, a feisty and resourceful 10-year-old Gwich’in/Koyukon/Dena’ina Athabascan girl. The episodes weave together literacy skills with Alaska Native values, such as respecting others, sharing what you have and honoring your elders, while showcasing contemporary aspects of rural life. WGBH Boston developed MOLLY OF DENALI with a group of Alaska Native advisors, including Elders, who advise on many aspects of the show, including culture and languages. The UA College Savings Plan is a major sponsor of the new series and its educational mission.

“On Topic” is a 10-part broadcast and podcast series featuring conversations with experts and authors on important issues that face Alaska. The series is produced in collaboration with the University of Alaska Press and hosted by President Jim Johnsen.


Watch a segment from the episode here.