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PBS’ Molly of Denali is the first show of its kind to feature an Alaska Native lead

Molly of Denali on PBS
Molly of Denali on PBS features an Alaskan native child. Pic credit: PBS

You’ve heard of Dora the Explorer, now get ready to meet Molly of Denali, a spirited and imaginative 10-year old Alaska Native and the central character of PBS’ new action-adventure series.

Molly of Denali follows the adventures of Molly Mabray and her friends and is the first nationally distributed children’s series in the U.S. to feature an Alaska Native lead character. The series debuts Monday, July 15.

Adorable and delightful Molly helps her mom and dad run the Denali Trading Post, a general store, bunkhouse, and transport hub in the fictional village of Qyah, Alaska. Each episode follows Molly, her dog Suki, and her friends Tooey and Trini as they have fun adventures that range from fishing to building snow forts to delivering a camera to friends on a volcano via dog sled.

“PBS Kids programming is rooted in education and inclusion, and we are always looking for new ways to highlight the many different communities that make up America,” said Linda Simensky, Vice President of  Children’s Programming at PBS.

According to Simensky, Molly of Denali builds, “on that commitment. We believe this series will provide more kids with the opportunity to see themselves represented in our programming and are excited to engage all kids with the culture and traditions of Alaska Native peoples.”

The groundbreaking show is designed to help kids ages 4 to 8 learn via interactive games, video content, and real-world activities. Each episode features two 11-minute segments plus additional content focused on live-action segments featuring actual children and regions in Alaska.

There is also an accompanying vlog through which Molly shares the information that she gathers on her adventures.

Friendly Molly is described as a funny and relatable character that will resonate with kids everywhere, and the great and bountiful state of Alaska plays a key role in the show.

Molly of Denali includes Alaska Native voices in all aspects of the production. The series was devised in consultation with a collection of Alaska Native advisors and consultants, and Princess Daazhraii Johnson (Neets’aii Gwich’in), is the creative producer of the series. The series features Alaska Native voice talent including the role of Molly, as well as Alaska Native scriptwriters.

In a statement, Johnson noted that the one-of-a-kind series, “showcases values paramount to all Alaskan Native cultures. These values will be woven into each storyline and provide important learning moments.”

“I’m especially excited that Alaska Native children will get to see themselves in Molly, who’s such an inspiring role model for all kids. The project’s Alaska Native advisors worked hard to ensure that our children will get to see our beautiful cultures in a respectful light.”

Molly of Denali airs Monday nights on PBS.

Tanya is a freelance writer, therapist and educator. The more

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