Escaping Alaska – TLC to Premier Show on Alaska Natives

Escaping Alaska – TLC to Premier Show on Alaska Natives

Cable network TLC continues its reality show lineup with a new show premiering this Sunday about Alaska Natives.

From TLC website:

“Escaping Alaska” follows a group of young Eskimos as they leave their villages for the first time and secretly escape to San Diego, defying the expectations of their families in order to experience life beyond the harsh realities of Alaska. They are a generation torn between their deep-rooted cultural traditions and the modern pop culture of the lower 48 states. This is their story of independence, survival, adventure and forming a new family. Leaving an Inuit community for any earthly reason is the ultimate sin, so our cast members are lying about their true intentions, telling their community that they are going on a cultural/religious mission, and thus committing the highest treason.

This clip introduces Mary, Frank, Tamara, Qituvituag and Nuala – who are of Inuit, Inupiaq and Yupik descent:

After reading the description and seeing the trailer, what do you think? First, I find issue with their outdated terminology “Eskimo”. As far as my knowledge goes, I have only heard the terms Inuit, Alaska Natives, etc. Also I was really stunned to hear the one girl say that she feels trapped in the old ways of her ancestors. Most natives I know wouldn't dare speak ill of their culture or elders.


One quick look online and you can see that others have voiced their concerns about this show and how it will portray Alaska Natives to the outside world. Check out Chantel Rondeau's blog or Alaska Dispatch News for more opinions.

AnneMarie Nicolaides, a administrator for the I am Alaska Native Facebook page recently spoke with Alaska Dispatch News and gave her views after seeing the preview.

I'm honestly very excited to see young Alaska Natives on national television! But I'm also worried that our culture will be misrepresented. We are already viewed in very stereotypical, outdated, and one dimensional ways. There is a lack of knowledge and understanding about our diverse cultures, even within the state of Alaska. I'd say a couple things from the trailer are inaccurate, it isn't considered treason to leave the village, and we aren't trapped in the old ways of our ancestors.

Quite the opposite actually. Many young people leave their villages and small towns to pursue higher education and careers with full support of their families. We are trying to preserve the “old ways of our ancestors.”

The introduction of European diseases, famine, annihilation of entire villages, attempted assimilation, cultural destruction, natural resources taken from us, all within a surprisingly short period of time, has left us in a complex predicament that we are dealing with still. Our languages, dances, rituals, the things that make us unique, are the things that we were condemned for, the things we were deemed savages for. I think there is a revival in our traditional ways, a renewed sense of pride, it's a work in progress.

I could go on and on, but I digress. I'm sure many things will be dramatized and set up on ‘Escaping Alaska' for the sake of entertainment. I don't have a strong opinion because I have only seen the preview, you can't judge a book by it's cover. I can say I'm excited, I hope they represent us well. I imagine it will hit a chord with me, I am currently living in San Diego, where they “escape” to, I miss Alaska and I miss being around my culture.

I hope viewers understand that not much in reality TV is actually real.

Yup, highly dramatized for entertainment value. So what do you think, will you be tuning in or turning off?

Escaping Alaska premieres Sunday, July 27th at 10pm Eastern, 9pm Central on TLC

About Toyacoyah Brown

Toyacoyah Brown is an enrolled member of the Comanche Nation, currently living in Chicago. She received her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and an M.A. in Media Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. When she's not scouring the Internet for fun things to share with readers you can find her digging for vinyl in her local record store or curling up with a good book.

13 Comments on “Escaping Alaska – TLC to Premier Show on Alaska Natives”

  • Avatar for M TOMA Inc

    M TOMA Inc


    I cant wait to get funding to get my movies and shows done! something real for once!

  • Avatar for Woot



    Are they pulling the same crap as Breaking Amish? What the hell, TLC, smh

  • Avatar for Angel



    sorry about my spelling mistakes im watching the show right now and im pissed off

  • Avatar for Angrl



    Q is an idiot someone should smack the shit outta him and then have him committed to a mental institution of anyone was sending out negative vibes it was him hes such a loser!!

  • Avatar for Anne



    I know for the show they have to send them to a place like CA. They do it so us in the 48 look stupid and people from Alaska look stupid too. Just about everyone I know or have met think CA is the joke of the lower 48. In northern MN we understand hunting to eat and we have all 4 seasons. The grass is always greener and I get it but my father always told me if I ever went to Alaska I would never come back.

  • Avatar for Carolyn



    This is totally fake!!! I have lived in Barrow for over 20 years, my daughter went to school with “Nuala” in 8th grade. She used to live in the lower 48 and moved to Barrow then moved away during high school. It was mentioned there is no fresh produce here, but there is….she was at the one store that does not carry fresh produce. Also, they do put prices on things…..just that one store doesn’t do it to all the items. And what was the deal with meeting in a “secret location”. It’s just so unreal. I am married to an Alaskan native and it’s just not at all correct how they portray life here.

  • Avatar for Suzanne



    Why was this show not on last night? I used to live in AK. and really like watching ANYTHING about the state, whether it’s staged or not. I’m intelligent enough to know when they are staged.. 🙂

  • Avatar for beth



    I would like the name of the Pawn shop that has Tamara’s mittens so I can buy them and hold on to them for her until she realizes what she has done the show is so heart breaking and unless they are being paid it is giving them a false sense of approval and security.

  • Avatar for kimberly Anderson

    kimberly Anderson


    My family and i are enjoying this show i think its only been the 2 or 3 shows we’ve so far.i was shock the way of life and how they live off v the land which is so amazingbut yes they sure are shocked when they leave there homes to see the world which is good for them to also see how we live also.hope its on for a while ..thank you for sharing some ofthe way and the cost offood these ppl have to pay and we thought here in canada the prices were outragoues.

  • Avatar for James



    I’m completely enamored with this show and hope these kids can experience as much of the lower 48 as possible. And hopefully the exposure of their culture will aid our lower 48 in understanding the sacrifices and traditions.

  • Avatar for Appalled



    Shameful. I can relate to these kids. It’s tough to grow up in a small village. And if you hate the cold, of course the idea of a vacation on a TV show in sunny California is attractive. But it’s clear these kids LIED. What they are saying about Native life is untrue. The producers made it clear what they wanted for their show, and these kids obliged, knowing that if they weren’t sensationalistic and dramatic that the producers would simply give the paid, sunny vacation and fame to another kid.

    “Q” is a plant. He does not have a Native accent. He relays untrue cultural information. He’s not a ceremonial person. He’s some kind of newager, and I believe the producers sprung him on the other kids without any warning or consent, just to stir up drama and stress everyone out. That is evil. Natives don’t use the word “shaman” unless they are exploiters, or people with no real connection to their culture. I think he and his mom, who by their own admission were kicked out of community and called “demonic,” are not traditional people, but nuagers who are exploiting their heritage to make a buck. He seems very unstable, which is what producers of these sorts of shows LOVE.

    This should be taken off the air and everyone who participated in this exploitative pack of lies should be ashamed of themselves. I feel sorry for the young girl who wants to act. Maybe she can get some of the roles Elaine Miles used to get, so there is a chance for her, but more likely in indy projects than mainstream Hollywood. But the producers are exploiting her.

    It’s true some of these kids may find themselves unwelcome in the future, which is sad, but if so it won’t be for leaving their villages (EVERYONE leaves at times for school or work), it will be for selling out their culture in their search for shallow fame. Someone help them and get this off the air.

  • Avatar for Autumn



    This is so fake!!! I live in Alaska, lived here my whole life. For one, these “villagers” don’t even have a native accent!!! And treason for leaving the village?! LMAO!!! These “Alaska” shows get worse and worse…

  • Avatar for Lena Mcclellan

    Lena Mcclellan


    I experienced going from a small village at 15 to go to a boarding school in real life during the pipeline days in Fairbanks…it was a very scarey experience but I toughed it out and made it thru high school…despite many obstacles..i had never even rode on a plane or been in a big city…I learned from this and grew out of my nutshell but learned to get accustomed to the white mans way of life and in Inupiaq way of life I live in my village now retired sharing my experinces and help youth prepare for their journey..

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