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Alaska Indigenous children's television show wins Peabody Award

The first nationally distributed children's series to feature an Indigenous girl living in Alaska as the lead character has been awarded a prestigious Peabody Award.

'Molly of Denali' one of 60 nominees chosen this year from nearly 1,300 entries

Molly of Denali is an action-adventure comedy for kids that follows the adventures of feisty and resourceful 10-year-old Molly Mabray, an Indigenous girl living in Alaska. (CBC)

The first nationally distributed children's series to feature an Indigenous girl living in Alaska as the lead character has been awarded a prestigious Peabody Award.

KTVA-TV reported Monday that PBS program Molly of Denali won the award in the children's and youth division. The series is a co-production with CBC Kids.

The show focuses on the cartoon character Molly Mabray, an Indigenous girl living in Alaska of Gwich'in, Koyukon, Dena'ina, and Athabascan heritage.

The program, which first aired in the summer of 2019, depicts the 10-year-old helping her parents run the Denali Trading Post while promoting Alaska Native values and literacy.

There were 60 nominees chosen this year for the Peabody Awards from nearly 1,300 entries spanning radio and podcasts, digital platforms and television.

The shows covered a broad range of issues from the criminal justice system, to the MeToo movement and immigrant rights.

Dorothea Gillim, executive producer and co-creator of 'Molly of Denali,' at the Anchorage Museum in Anchorage, Alaska in 2019. (Mark Thiessen/The Associated Press)

Molly of Denali creator and executive producer Dorothea Gillim accepted the award on behalf of the show.

"Stories are so important," Gillim said. "They help us make meaning of who we are, of our experiences."

The stories children hear or watch "informs their sense of self and their outlook on others," Gillim said.

Indigenous children need to see themselves depicted onscreen as heroes, while non-Indigenous children should learn about cultures that have been stigmatized and marginalized over time, Gillim said.

The show's producers said 20 per cent of Americans believe Indigenous people no longer exist.

The Peabody Awards, founded and based at the University of Georgia, are decided by a jury that includes industry professionals, media scholars, critics and journalists.

Molly of Denali continues to air Wednesdays and Saturdays on CBC and is also available to stream on CBC Gem. 

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