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Witness the dynamically changing Northwest at
the turn of the century. The expansion of the
railroad, the discovery of gold, labor struggles,
and world war - these are the passages
experienced by a young Swedish immigrant and
her community. As she interacts with her African,
Asian, and Native American neighbors you'll
discover the diversity of the American experience.
4th Grade through
Thetre / Drama
Television - Film
Northwest Passages is the story of Julia Berg from Sweden. When Julia's father sees the
futility of farm life in Sweden he decides to move the family to Washington state in
America. Julia and her brothers begin a new life in Preston, Washington. A sister, Astrid, is
born to the Bergs in their first few months in America.
The story follows the family's growth in America as they celebrate both Swedish and
American holidays, build a new life, and struggle against prejudice toward immigrants.
After the death of her brother, Julia becomes a nurse with Seattle's Swedish Hospital. As
a nurse she is able to travel throughout the Northwest. Julia interacts with African
American coal miners and assists families when an explosion rips through the local mine. In
Tacoma she hears the story of a Chinese immigrant and his struggle to be accepted in
America. At an Indian reservation Julia witnesses the government removal of Native
American children from their families to be placed in boarding schools where they are
expected to become "Americans".
When World War One breaks out Julia's world is changed forever. Her oldest brother
disappears in the war, her father is killed in an accident, and her mother becomes ill during
the flu pandemic of 1918. When she is required to send a letter to the family in Sweden
she realizes that she know longer knows how to write in Swedish. Julia discovers her
special status as a woman with two homes, two cultures and two families.
Written by Rachel Atkins
A 19th century
immigrant to the
who became the
inspiration for the
Tugboat Annie and
creator of one of
the Pacific's largest
A classic American