On Dec. 4, PBS aired a "Molly of Denali" segment shot and narrated by a young fan from Bethel.
"Molly of Denali" is a Peabody Award-winning children’s television show, and the first nationally distributed children’s series featuring an Alaska Native lead character. The show follows its namesake, a 10 year old Athabascan vlogger, as well as her family, who own the Denali Trading Post. The show is animated, but each episode also features a short live action segment that follows the real life of an Alaskan kid. This December, that kid was from Bethel.
Eleven-year-old Silas Lefferts was among five children chosen from across the state to appear in this season’s segments. The producers sent Silas a camera, and he helped choose what to share from Bethel. In Silas’ first segment, he takes us on a tour of his life during Bethel’s warmer months. It starts with breakup, watching the ice flow down the Kuskokwim.
With the ice gone, the fishing can begin. He checks blackfish traps with his friends. They’ll use the blackfish as bait for bigger fish. He also dipnets for smelt, pulling up a netful from the river. He tells us that smelt are small, and they swim upriver from the ocean. "We gave some of the fish away to Elders, because the Elders taught us how to fish. So we respect them by giving them fish that we caught,” explains Silas.
We watch Silas canoeing on a lake with his friends and playing in the Bethel sand pit. He also shares his love of dirt-biking, and talks about the geographic features of Bethel. “The Yup’ik word from tundra is nunapik. It’s very squishy, and sorta like moss,” says Silas, giving a local language tip.
We’ll get to see Silas on "Molly of Denali" at least once more, on Jan. 29, 2021. You can watch December’s segment here.