xinotthi tasoł | inspire
Lifting Up: a Tribute to Influencers Who Advance Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation
9th Annual Howard Rock & Ted Stevens Smokehouse Gala honors active work to promote racial equity

TRHT, which stands for Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation, provides for critical space for our untold truths to be shared in Indigenous-led spaces that center healing, and locally-driven transformation for a better Alaska. The time has come to grow Alaskans’ understanding of our true history, right the past wrongs that inhibit our true potential as a state, and advance an equitable future for all Alaskans. At this years Smokehouse Gala, the Trustees and Staff of First Alaskans are honored to create a new tribute for global media makers and influencers who are drawing critical light to our Native peoples here at home in Alaska and across the world.

Our peoples have always stood up for racial and social justice and our inherent right to live our ways of life, action that has taken many forms over the last century and even earlier. This special tribute to the following groups uplifts their active work to change the narrative around racial equity, uplift the brilliance of Indigenous peoples across the world, and catalyze a new understanding of the Indigenous lands upon which this country is built. These influencers use their tremendous global platforms to lift up Alaska Natives and other Indigenous peoples in solidarity, every single day; fight for racial equity; and uplift a loving and true image of our peoples and our ways of life. We honor their efforts, are grateful for their work and those that lift them up and created them. We are proud to call them our relatives.

Portugal. The Man band
Portugal. The Man

Portugal. The Man is an American rock band from Wasilla, Alaska, currently based in Portland, Ore. The group consists of John Baldwin Gourley, Zach Carothers, Kyle O’Quin, Jason Sechrist, Eric Howk and Zoe Manville. Gourley and Carothers met and began playing music together in 2001 at Wasilla High School. They speak out against systemic racism, uplift the Indigenous peoples in every venue they play, and partner with Alaska Natives to amplify our voices and causes.

In 2019, First Alaskans called them onstage during the annual Elders & Youth Conference to recognize them for their work in utilizing land acknowledgements and fighting for #MMIW. They use their stage to welcome local Indigenous peoples to open their shows and highlight issues critical to those communities. They are supported in this work by Amy Spark (Cupik) and Dennis Davis (Inupiaq), along with many others.

Molly of Denali tv series
Molly of Denali
Molly of Denali is an animated children’s television series created and produced by Atomic Cartoons and WGBH Kids for PBS Kids and CBC Television that premiered in July 2019. The series is the first nationally distributed children’s show to feature an Alaska Native as the lead character, in no small part due to the inclusion of Alaska Native culture bearers and storytellers to inform the show’s authenticity. This show has made an incredible positive impact around the nation showing vibrant Alaska Native cultures in a beautiful and accurate way. The show also tackles challenging issues, such as the impact of boarding schools, the importance of culture and language, and the adventurous spirit and leadership of our young people. The editor of this magazine is also one of the show’s writers, Vera Starbard (Tlingit/Dena’ina). Princess Johnson (Gwich’in), the show’s producer, and many other Native peoples, help shape the show and give it a truly authentic presence.
Indian Country Today
Mark Trahant
Indian Country Today (ICT) is a daily digital news platform that covers the Indigenous world, including American Indians, Alaska Natives and First Nations. Mark Trahant is an independent print and broadcast journalist. In a society that has for too long ignored or maltreated Indigenous peoples’ stories, Mark and ICT’s efforts to shift the narrative to center our worldviews and elevate Native peoples voices has raised awareness about the challenges and opportunities facing our peoples’ today, while sharing the beauty and brilliance of our cultures, traditions and knowledge systems. The vision of ICT and Mark’s own journalism were inspired by Howard Rock. Mark has spoken at the Smokehouse Gala to share this story and has always supported and participated in First Alaskans events when asked. He and his team of Alaska based journalists and photographers work hard to ensure that stories about Alaska are always included in ICT.