Maya Salganek: Connecting and exploring Indigenous communities through filmmaking

Maya Salganek: Connecting and exploring Indigenous communities through filmmaking
Published: Oct. 10, 2023 at 9:02 AM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTUU) - Growing up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Maya Salganek was immersed in the arts, but after meeting her husband, she now calls Fairbanks home.

The couple has lived in the Golden Heart City for 25 years. Salganek’s background is in video production, fine arts, and photography, which led her on a journey of storytelling within Indigenous communities.

“How do I really bring to the table my skills, but still have an ear towards the story itself and really learn from these storytellers and help make sure that their story is theirs?” she asked rhetorically.

Over the years, Salganek’s work began to speak for itself.

“What I didn’t know I would experience is just how embraced I’ve been by the multiple ... Indigenous communities that I’ve had the opportunity, you know, to work with over the years,” she explained.

Now, as a filmmaker and professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks — where she also serves as chair for the Department of Theatre and Film — she encourages her students to immerse themselves in their projects. UAF’s theater department is nearly 60 years old, but the film program has only been around for 11 years.

“So the more students can have the confidence to go and pursue their dreams — that’s what we want to give them while they’re here with us at UAF,” Salganek said.

She said she also looks forward to more homegrown filmmakers eventually making their way back to their home state of Alaska.

“We’re just now starting to see that cycle of what that will do for our state in terms of reflecting our stories internally in the way that we want the world to see us,” she said.