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Alaska Native Epidemiology Center

The Healthy Portraits Project

Health facts are important. Some of these facts, however, can be discouraging. What would happen if we focus on healthy community activities?— Healthy Portraits does just that.

Healthy Portraits highlights healthy success stories through photography and storytelling. It is a way to celebrate communities making positive changes towards wellness. This project is different in two ways—1) it focuses on healthy change, and 2) returns the photos back to the communities.

Story Thumbnail of Boy Skiing

the story

We find Alaska health stories that inspire, motivate, and bring communties together.

Portrait Thumb of girl

the photos

Boy holding large photograph of himself skiing

To photograph the story, we travel to each community at least twice.

the return

On the last visit, we return the photos to celebrate their success stories of health.

Past: NANANordic

NANANordic’s goal is introduce the lifetime sport of cross-country skiing to rural Alaska starting with villages in the NANA region. In April 2013, 1,500 students were introduced to skate skiing in the 11 villages making up the NANA region. Additionally, NANANoridic visited White Mountain in the Bering Strait Region and Anaktuvuk Pass in the North Slope Region. –source:

ANTHC brought two photographers, Brendan Smith (ANTHC) and Craig Billingsley (NANA shareholder) to photograph NANANordic and their involvement with the communities of the Northwest Arctic Region. They traveled with NANANordic to the villages of Noatak and Shungnak to tell their stories. In August of 2013, they returned to give the photos back to the communities where they will be permanently displayed. The hope is that the photos will continue to inspire healthy choices and acheivements.

NANA Development Corporation LogoNANANordic Program Logo

Share Your Story Idea

The Northwest Arctic’s involvement with NANANordic is one of the many stories about positive, healthy activitives in Alaska Native communities.

Help us find more projects like this to highlight with the Healthy Portraits Project. Send us your ideas!