“50 Years of Northern Light” is a documentary about Anaktuvuk Pass, Alaska, that was released in 2011. The DVD is still for sale and the information from the old web site is being migrated over to this location. Use the Contact Page if you would like information on purchasing a DVD.
The Iñupiaq village of Anaktuvuk Pass, Alaska, is the home of the Nunamiut, the inland eskimos. The Nunamiut were nomadic caribou hunters up until settling in a mountain pass in the Brooks Range in 1949. There are many elders who still remember the nomadic way of life and who have seen profound cultural changes in their village in just a few short years.
Anaktuvuk Pass was founded in 1949 by several Nunamiut families coming together with the best interests of their families in mind, making the Nunamiut one of the very last native populations of North America to settle into village life. The first building was a humble post office maintained by Homer Mekiana. In 1959 a church building was completed and dedicated as part of the Presbyterian church. While the building itself was initially central to the life of the village, as the importance of individual structures waned the importance of the church embodied by the building continued to grow. Fifty years later, in 2009, the village held a Jubilee celebration of the building and of their people and culture. This event in 2009 was much more significant than a rededication of a building. For people all across the North Slope it was a time to look at the past, consider the present, and prepare for the future.
Directed by Caven Keith, this documentary interviews many of the village elders who were involved in the founding of the original settlement, as well as speaking with newer generations who are rising up to carry on the traditions of their elders as they struggle to find identity in the face of change and the gradual loss of their language and traditions.
The story of Anaktuvuk Pass is unique to the Nunamiut, but at the same time the issues of culture and identity in the face of change are universal subjects that affect all people.