Exploring The Last Frontier: Latinos Making Alaska Their Home

AK Latino News


Alaska may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of Latino culture, but the Latino community in the Last Frontier is thriving and making significant contributions to the state’s culture and economy.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Latinos make up about 7.7% of Alaska’s population, with a significant presence in cities like Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau. The Latino community in Alaska is diverse, with roots in countries like Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Puerto Rico, among others.

One of the factors that has drawn Latinos to Alaska is the state’s strong economy and job opportunities. Many Latinos have found work in industries like fishing, tourism, and construction, where there is a high demand for labor. In addition, Alaska’s oil and gas industry has also attracted many Latino workers looking for well-paying jobs.

Despite the challenges of living in a cold and remote state, Latinos in Alaska have formed tight-knit communities and have worked to preserve and celebrate their cultural heritage.

The dynamic group is the subject of “Sabor Ártico: Latinos En Alaska,” a short documentary showcasing their experiences through poignant interviews that give insight into the importance of food and culture in adapting to the Arctic environment and forging their identity.

 “Sabor Ártico: Latinos en Alaska”  is part of Latino Public Broadcasting’s “VOCES Shorts” series
and is available to stream HERE.

“This is a story that other Latinos should know,” said filmmaker Indra Narriaga Delgado in an interview with Alaska Public Media. “I’ll go somewhere, (and say) I live in Alaska. What? There are Latinos in Alaska?” Narriaga Delgado shared people’s reactions when they learned where she resides. 

Originally from Veracruz, Mexico, Narriaga Delgado has dedicated her career to advocating for marginalized communities and using storytelling to amplify their voices. In 2019, she teamed up with award-winning filmmaker Miguel Salazar to co-direct the groundbreaking project.

One of the main goals of “Sabor Ártico” is to challenge stereotypes and misconceptions about Latinos in Alaska, highlighting their strength, perseverance, and rich cultural heritage. The film also addresses issues of discrimination and social inequality faced by many Latino immigrants, shedding light on the systemic barriers that they must overcome in order to thrive in their new home.

Organizations like the Alaska Hispanic Cultural Center and the Alaska Hispanic Resource Center provide support and resources for Latinos in the state, as well as opportunities to connect with their cultural roots through events like music and dance performances, art exhibits, and food festivals.

“Latinos: Driving Prosperity, Power, and Progress in America,” was the theme of 2023’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebration by the Forest Service. “This year’s theme means inclusivity to me,” shared Alaska Region’s Secure Rural Schools and Tribal Partnership coordinator Carlos De La Torre. “All cultures provide a rich environment for progress.”

“Members of the Latine community can be found driving prosperity, power, and progress in all sectors of industry,” said botanist Valeria Cancino. As a large and diverse community, we bring a wide array of skills, experiences, and knowledge to the table to help create a better tomorrow for future generations.”

Cover Photo: Still from “Sabor Ártico: Latinos en Alaska,” a short film by Indra Arriaga Delgado. (Credit: Indra Arriaga Delgado)

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