Alaska Far Away

April 12, 2011 Wisconsin Public Television Leave a Comment

Watch Director’s Cut Alaska Far Away at 9 p.m. Thursday, April 14 on Wisconsin Public Television.

Colonists boarding a trainMost Americans are familiar with FDR’s New Deal projects such as the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Public Works of Art Project. But I’m willing to bet few have ever heard of the Matanuska Colonization Project of 1935 – one of the more controversial programs in which the U.S. government relocated 202 families from the Midwest to the wilderness of Alaska to start an experimental farming colony.

I first learned of the project when Joan Juster, co-director of the documentary Alaska Far Away stopped by my desk with some historical photos of the project and a copy of the documentary. By this point, WPT’s Director’s Cut had already seen the film and decided the rest of Wisconsin should too. You can see the film that illustrates the despair of the Great Depression, the creative energy of the New Deal, and the adventure of pioneering in Alaska Thursday night on WPT. At 9 p.m. just before the film, catch Charles Monroe-Kane’s interview with directors Joan Juster and Paul Hill, who spent much of the last two decades recording the stories of Matanuska’s residents.

Children and a man building a house

Learn more about the film at


2 thoughts on “Alaska Far Away”

  • My mom and grandparents were part of the Colony group that came to Alaska in 1935, from Michigan…I never met my grandfather and would like to find a picture or pictures of him…His name was Edmond LaValley (Ed)

  • David,
    Thank you for this write-up. We’re proud to bring ‘Alaska Far Away’ to Wisconsin thanks to WPT. It features interviews with several Wisconsinites, filmed both in Wisconsin and in Alaska. For a complete list of the colony families, or to purchase a copy of ‘Alaska Far Away,’ viewers can visit our website at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *