On view, West Wing Level 4
Photojournalist Ash Adams and Iñupiaq writer Laureli Ivanoff examine Indigenous coming of age in rural Alaska. A time of rapid change in the personal lives of adolescents is mirrored by rapid change in the landscape, due to climate-related disruptions of local ecosystems, as well as widening cultural shifts in the age of social media and internet access. Many of these young people are the grandchildren of the 1960s boarding school era when Alaska Natives were taken from rural communities that lacked either primary or secondary schools and sent to boarding schools run by the federal or state government, costing many students not only the loss of their language, but also their culture and identity. This complex legacy affects their descendants, who grapple daily with the social side effects of cultural trauma and high rates of substance abuse and sexual assault. By focusing on the rhythms and realities of everyday life in Utqiagvik, Arctic Village, Kivalina, the Pribilof Islands, Newtok and Sikta, Adams reveals with her images the cultural resilience and tenacity of Indigenous children coming of age in a transformative time.