Tell Me Why Studio Dontnod Consulted Indigenous Foundation to Accurately Depict Tlingit Culture
Tell Me Why features cultural pieces and art from the Huna Tlingit community, as well as two prominent Tlingit characters.
Dontnod Entertainment has been taking plenty of steps to be more inclusive in their most recent title Tell Me Why. The title takes place in rural Alaska, a region of the world that’s home to many indigenous communities, and the studio has made sure to partner with an indigenous foundation to accurately portray the Tlingit culture featured in the title.
According to their official FAQ: “Tlingit culture is a key part of Tell Me Why’s story and scenery. Our partners at Huna Heritage Foundation have been integral in our goal to portray these elements respectfully and responsibly. They also informed many other aspects of the game, including atmospheric sounds, Tlingit-language pronunciation and spelling verification, and information on customs such as funerary rites. We also commissioned Huna Tlingit artisans to create the many Tlingit objects, murals and designs that appear in the game.”
A recent blog post details the corroboration specifically with artists Gordon Greenwald and Jeff Skaflestad, both members of the Huna Tlingit community. Pictured below are some examples of the art created, alongside its faithful reproduction in the game itself:
Gordon designed two totems to appear in Tell Me Why, one of which is located outside Delos Crossing’s only grocery store. This totem depicts the store’s purpose.
Gordon also designed the mural on the side of the same store, which shows “a person holding a halibut and a crab, two favorite foods for our people.”
Tlingit designs can also represent personal identity within the broader community. Jeff created several examples of such pieces for Tell Me Why, which can be found throughout Delos Crossing in the homes and offices of Tlingit characters.
Another one of Jeff’s prints, Battle of Inian Islands, that shows up in the game features an octopus.
Not only are these pieces incredible works on their own merits, but because artists from the actual culture created them the art is true to the culture and therefore holds significant cultural value and meaning. It serves to enrich the game and add more authenticity to the setting, which is refreshing to see in any media.
And in other news the studio revealed two Tlingit characters who appear in Tell Me Why. One is Michael Abila, Alyson’s coworker and best friend; another is Eddy Brown, the police chief of Delos Crossing. Michael is also a queer man who is portrayed very positively within the narrative.
Chapter One of Tell Me Why launches on August 27th and tells the story of twins who reunite for the first time in ten years after their mother’s death. Upon returning to their childhood home in rural Alaska, the Ronans realize that their shared past may not be as they remember it.
Watch the launch trailer for chapter one of Tell Me Why below: