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  • Kyla Kahrs

Alumni Athletes Invited: Share Your Stories

Kyla Kahrs sat down for an interview with Alaskan photojournalist, documentary photographer, and filmmaker Katie Basile. Katie’s work focuses on her home, the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region. She has appeared on PBS NewsHour as well as in The Washington Post Magazine, NPR, and The New York Times.

Kyla: How did you get into photography?

Katie: I was introduced to photography in junior high. We were still shooting film and working in the dark room at that point, and I fell in love with it. I later went to school for photojournalism and have worked in media for the past 12 years.

Kyla: What has it meant for you to be involved in documenting different peoples throughout the world and showcasing the youth of your homeland?

Katie: Photography and filmmaking have allowed me to meet and connect with so many incredible people throughout Alaska and the world. I love sharing that passion with youth by teaching multimedia workshops and classes in Bethel where I grew up. When I was a kid, most of the films and photographs about Alaska were produced by people from outside the state. It's important for Alaskans to author our own stories, and I hope that by sharing my love for photography and filmmaking I can encourage youth to make storytelling a part of their lives.

Kyla: What has been your favorite project?

Katie: In 2022 I worked with a youth drone club in Napakiak, Alaska to document their eroding shoreline. We interviewed community members and they sketched out some of their memories of the land before it eroded away on drone images of the shoreline. The final piece was a five-minute digital story. I loved the way we all collaborated to tell the community's stories and learn more about their efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Kyla: How did you get involved in AWG? What has been your favorite event/experience?

Katie: I did another storytelling project in the Mat-Su Valley a few years ago. A colleague I worked with on that project is on the Arctic Winter Games planning team and she reached out to see if we could work on a storytelling project to celebrate Alumni Athletes. I was so excited when she reached out!

Kyla: What is your favorite piece at the Depot this week? Do you have a picture you could share to put in the newsletter?

Katie: I have so many favorites! I'll share a few.

Kyla: Any funny anecdotes for the kids reading?

Katie: This week we met two women who played basketball for Team Alaska in 1970. They came to our photobooth to share their memories of the Arctic Winter Games. One of them, Linda Chapman Cordle, said that during the 1970 Arctic Winter Games in Northwest Territories she met another teenager who brought her to a snowmachine race. Linda told him that she wished she could join the race so he found a snowmachine for her and brought her to the starting line. Before she knew it, she was racing down the course. As she was crossing the finish line she saw an official wave a checkered flag, and it turned out that she had won the race! She joked that she went to the Arctic Winter Games to play basketball and she ended up winning a snowmachine race!

Kyla: Is there anything else you would like readers to know?

Katie: We have a pop-up portrait studio at The Depot in Palmer for alumni athletes. It's only open on Tuesday, March 12. I hope more alumni athletes stop by for a quick photo and interview. I'd like to collect as many stories as we can!


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