Meet ‘Molly of Denali,’ PBS Kids’ New Alaska Native Star

By Sameer Rao May 10, 2018

At yesterday’s (May 9) annual meeting, PBS Kids announced the launch of "Molly of Denali," an animated series starring 10-year-old Molly Mabray, the first Alaska Native protagonist of a nationally distributed kids’ show.

The show follows Mabray, a "feisty and resourceful" girl who helps her parents run the Denali Trading Post in the fictitious town of Qyah, Alaska. Episodes follow Mabray through adventures with her dog Suki and friends Tooey and Trini, including building snow forts and riding a dog sled to a volcanic island.

The series’ title references Denali, the Koyukon-language name for the highest mountain peak in North America.

The announcement adds that the series strives for authenticity and educational value by using a mix of historical archives, Indigenous elders’ knowledge and other multiplatform resources. PBS member station WGBH Boston, the series’ primary producing entity, will also develop "Molly of Denali" in collaboration with Alaska Native advisors, artists and voice actors. 

“‘Molly of Denali’ showcases values paramount to all Alaskan Native cultures,” said Princess Daazhraii Johnson, series creative producer, in the statement. Johnson is a member of the Neets’aii Gwich’in Indigenous peoples and hails from Fairbanks, the largest city in the Alaskan interior. 

“These values will be woven into each storyline and provide important learning moments," she continued. “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" aims to reach children between the ages of four and eight. It will debut in the summer of 2019.