Indigenous language film fest returns with 16 submissions

KPBSD’s Indigenous Education Program hosted its Second Annual Indigenous Language Film Festival

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s Indigenous Education Program hosted its Second Annual Indigenous Language Film Festival last Thursday, Feb. 29, featuring 16 films made by 52 people.

The film festival, which premiered at three separate showtimes on Thursday, can be streamed on YouTube under the title “2024 Indigenous Language Film Festival – KPBSD Noon Showing.”

The festival debuted last year, when Indigenous Education Specialist Rachel Pioch said it was an opportunity to promote and increase visibility of Indigenous languages. That festival had two entries, both recitations of traditional Dena’ina songs.

This year, across the 16 films, a variety of categories are represented: “Sing us a song or share a dance,” “Teach us something,” “Tell us a story” and “Share what you love.”

Each of this year’s videos are made by students, which isn’t a requirement as the festival is open to all borough residents. In most cases, the students also handled filming and editing — almost every video was compiled using the smartphone video editing app CapCut.

Each video is required to include at least some part of their dialogue in an Indigenous language. Many of the videos featured this year come from Nanwalek, and feature dialogue in Sugt’stun.

Among the videos include songs sung in Sugt’stun and Upper Inlet Dena’Ina. Most of the submissions include lessons on the names of colors, numbers, animals, days of the week — one of which is conveyed through rap. In “Share what you love,” a student showcases Native Youth Olympics, and in “Tell us a story,” the traditional tale of Ggugguyni is spotlighted.

For more information, or to find the full festival video, find “KPBSD Indigenous Education” on Facebook.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at