Private Project

We Breathe Again

Long ago survival was not easy for Alaska Native peoples, but we lived full lives. Today survival is easier, but many are dying young.

For centuries Alaska Native peoples survived the harsh conditions of life in the far north while our social, cultural, and spiritual practices thrived. In the 1700’s the battle to claim Alaska and its peoples began, setting into motion disruptive changes for Alaska’s first peoples. The painful scars from colonization continue to cycle from one generation to the next.

Rarely heard of 40 years ago, suicide among Alaska Native peoples is now a silent epidemic -- 3.5 times higher than the national average -- and affecting Alaska Native youth between the ages of 15-24 at the highest rate in the country. Faced with heartbreaking challenges, Alaska Native communities are striving to recover and regain balance.

In a landscape as dramatic as its stories, We Breathe Again intimately explores the lives of ​four Alaska Native people, each confronting the impacts of ​intergenerational trauma and suicide. Reflected in the northern lights and the city streetlights, from the ice roads to the asphalt, the characters battle for personal healing, hoping to break new trail for their families and their communities to follow.

  • Marsh Chamberlain
  • Evon Peter
    Gwich'in, Alaska Native
  • Enei Begaye Peter
    Diné (Navajo) and Tohono O’odham
  • Ryan Jacobi
  • Marsh Chamberlain
  • Vivien Hillgrove, Supervising Editor
    Key Crew
  • Paola Prestini, Composer
    Key Crew
  • Maya Salganek, Associate Producer
    Key Crew
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    56 hours 40 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    January 31, 2017
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Week of the Arctic
    Fairbanks, Alaska
    United States
    May 9, 2017
    World Premiere
  • America ReFramed, PBS

    United States
    September 26, 2017
    Broadcast Premiere
Director Biography - Marsh Chamberlain

Marsh Chamberlain, Director/Producer/ Cinematographer/Editor, is a film and television professional based in New York City. Marsh has worked on a variety of projects with a diverse group of clients including Ken Burns, ESPN, Toyota, The Human Brain Project, Maniilaq Association, and Vision Maker Media. As a filmmaker he has directed, shot, produced, and edited a number of short documentaries, music videos, and other media. The short film, Camp Pigaaq, was broadcast on Alaska Public Television, receiving critical acclaim across the state. He is the owner and founder of the production company, Crawl Walk Run. We Breathe Again is his first feature-length documentary film.

Evon Peter, Producer/Cultural Advisor, is Gwich’in and Koyukon from Arctic Village, Alaska, where he served three years as tribal chief. Evon was appointed Vice Chancellor for Rural, Community and Native Education at the University of Alaska Fairbanks in July 2014. He is a board member to the Gwich’in Council International, where he represents Gwich’in nation interests in the Arctic Council forum. His local work has focused on implementing behavioral health, leadership and workforce development projects. Evon was featured in the 2005 award-winning documentary Homeland: Four Portraits of Native Action and has produced several short Alaskan documentaries. He resides in Fairbanks with his wife and four children.

Enei Begaye Peter, Producer, is of the Diné (Navajo) and Tohono O’odham Nations. She is an experienced grassroots organizer and an active speaker, strategist, and writer. Among other recognitions, Enei was named one of Utne Reader's "50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World." Enei has worked in service to Indigenous communities through non-profit organizations for many years. She is a co-founder of non-profit organization Native Movement and served as a long-time co-director of the Black Mesa Water Coalition. Enei grew up on the Navajo reservation in Northeastern Arizona; she is Stanford University-educated and currently lives in Fairbanks, Alaska.

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Director Statement

The traumatic impacts of colonization and practices of forced assimilation affect generations of Alaska Native people. The associated social outcomes include formidable inter-generational challenges, such as substance abuse, sexual abuse and suicide. The legacy of this recent history and inter-generational trauma is complex and rarely discussed.

Yet, it is through shining a light on these experiences that people may find a path to well-being. The story of Alaska Native peoples’ journeys to heal from the past and shape a self-determined future captured our interest and inspired us to make this film.

Through our involvement in prevention programs and engagement with the struggles of extended family, we reached out across the state to identify a diverse group of Alaska Native people willing to open their lives for us to follow. We are grateful for their courage and willingness to share their stories with us, in what has become a life-changing experience for us all.