Systems practice

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 151–157 | Cite as

Emancipatory practice through the Sky River Project

  • William Foote Whyte


Timothy Kennedy went to an Eskimo village in Alaska as a VISTA volunteer to perform community service for 2 years. He remained through 11 years, building participatory community development projects. As he became accepted by the Eskimo villagers, he got them involved in using videotape technology to build community solidarity and then to communicate more effectively with government officials and politicians about the needs and wishes of their community. So as to make clear that this was not a documentary project directed by a professional film maker, Kennedy got villagers involved in all stages of the process of videotaping and also in determining who and how their tapes should be seen by authorities. The Sky River Project achieved three major changes in governmental policies for the Eskimos. As the videotapes were shown in other Eskimo villages, who shared the same needs and wishes, the process generated intervillage communication and collaboration on various projects.

Key words

emancipatory practice Sky River Project Eskimos VISTA 


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  1. Kennedy, T. (1973). The SKY RIVER Project: The Story of a Process. Access, National Film Board of Canada Challenge for Change Programme, 12 (Summer).Google Scholar
  2. Kennedy, T. (1982). Beyond advocacy: A facilitative approach to public participation.J. Video Film Assoc. 34(Summer), 33–46.Google Scholar
  3. Kennedy, T. (1984).The Sky River Project, Sociology of Development Ph.D. thesis, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.Google Scholar
  4. Kennedy, T. (1989). Community animation—An open-ended process.Media Dev. J. 3, 5–7.Google Scholar
  5. Whyte, W. F. (1984). The Sky River Project. In Learning from the Field, pp. 174–181.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • William Foote Whyte
    • 1
  1. 1.Ithaca

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