Molly of Denali wins George Foster Peabody Award

From left are Dewey Kk’oleyo Hoffman, Rochelle Adams, Adeline Peter Raboff, Princess Johnson, and seated in front is Luke Titus. (Photo by WGBH)

The critically-acclaimed television series MOLLY OF DENALI has been recognized with a 2020 George Foster Peabody Award for excellence in broadcasting in 2019. The PBS KIDS series, produced by WGBH Boston, premiered nationwide in July 2019, and airs on PBS stations, the 24/7 PBS KIDS channel and PBS KIDS digital platforms. Each year, the Peabody Awards Board of Jurors honors the most powerful, enlightening, and invigorating stories in television, radio and digital media.

This Peabody is awarded to the first nationally distributed children’s series to feature a Native American lead character at a time when the public dialogue about representation and inclusion is a focus across America. As communities and institutions are challenged to respect differences, MOLLY OF DENALI’s TV and digital programming, podcast, and games include Alaska Native values, such as respecting others, sharing what you have and honoring your elders. MOLLY OF DENALI also showcases contemporary aspects of rural life, including strong female role models the ways technology aids in communication.

“Molly of Denali’s animated series, podcast and games have been embraced by audiences everywhere,” said WGBH Executive Producer Dorothea Gillim. “We are grateful to the Peabody Awards Board of Jurors for this honor.

MOLLY OF DENALI involves Alaska Native voices in all aspects of the production, both on screen and behind the scenes. Every Indigenous character is voiced by an Indigenous actor, including Molly, voiced by Alaska Native Sovereign Bill (Tlingit and Muckleshoot).

WGBH Boston developed the project with an Alaska Native working group, and with funding through CPB, created a scriptwriting fellowship for Alaska Native writers. Its theme song is sung by Phillip Blanchett and Karina Moeller of the Yup’ik Alaska Native band Pamyua, with the Athabascan fiddle and traditional drum played by Gwich’in musician Brennan Firth.

Molly has clearly connected with audiences across the U.S., with a reach of nearly 40 million people, including over 700,000 Indigenous/Alaska Native viewers. It has had over 107 million streams, 4.2 million podcast video streams and more than 17 million games played online and via the PBS KIDS Games app.*

“The stories we tell through Molly of Denali are a reflection of the heart and values of Alaska Native peoples — our truths, our histories, and our experience,” said Princess Daazhraii Johnson (Neest’aii Gwich’in), Creative Producer of the series. “Through Molly we get to show that we are still here, and we have so much to say about how we live respectfully with one another and the lands, waters and animals we share this world with.”

With the MOLLY OF DENALI Podcast, kids and families can experience the early adventures of Molly and her friends in an eight-part podcast series. Drawing on Native storytelling to introduce Molly and her home, podcast is a first from WGBH, in partnership with PRX and Gen-Z Media.

MOLLY OF DENALI is grounded in a pioneering curriculum focused on informational text, a foundational aspect of literacy education. Informational texts are designed to convey information and can include written words, images, graphics, video and oral language. In every episode, Molly navigates her world and solves problems with the help of books, online resources, field guides, historical documents, maps, tables, posters, photos, Indigenous knowledge from elders, her very own vlog and more.

The Alaska Native working group for Molly of Denali include Adeline P. Raboff, Dewey Kk’ołeyo Hoffman, Luke Titus and Rochelle Adams. Language Advisors are Adeline P. Raboff, Lance X’unei Twitchell, Lorraine David, Marie Meade and Marjorie Tahbone. Informational text advisor is Nell K. Duke, University of Michigan.