A newsletter of the Alaska Rural Systemic
Alaska Federation of Natives / University
of Alaska / National Science Foundation
Volume 1, Issue 5, November/December 1996
In This Issue:
Excellent Teamwork for a Challenging and Successful
by Dorothy M. Larson
We are nearing the completion of year one for the
imple- mentation plan for the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative
(Alaska RSI). The co-directors, Oscar Kawagley, Ray Barnhardt and
myself, would like to thank the staff of the Alaska RSI and the
Alaska Native Knowledge Network as well as the staff working with
our partners with whom we have memorandums of agreement (MOAs)
for their hard work and dedication this past year.
A special thank you and recognition goes out to the
elders who have worked with us on a regional level and on the consortium.
Without the elders involvement, our project would not work.
It has been an extremely busy year for all of us.
We have begun implementing each of the initiatives in every region.
Many activities such as consortium meetings, staff meetings and
documentation of knowledge have taken place. American Indian Science
and Engineering Society chapters have been formed in local schools
and on campuses; Native teacher associations have been formed in
four regions with the fifth region in the process of organizing;
regional coordinators have held regional meetings; several books
have been published and distributed; curriculum activities are
on-going; collaboration with government organizations, school districts,
Native organizations, tribal groups, parents, scientists, educators
and many others have occurred.
This project is quite a challenge to say the least.
However, with the dedication and hard work that has been demonstrated,
along with the concentrated effort of many people working together,
we will impact the educational system.
Coupling the Alaska RSI with the Alaska Rural Challenge
project, which has been described on page three of this newsletter,
we will make a more comprehensive and holistic impact that will
reflect systemic change. We look forward to working with everyone
in the next year in the implementation of the Alaska RSI.
September Meeting Enriches Staff
by Gail Pass
The Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative (Alaska RSI)
staff met with Village Science coordinators and other contracted
staff September 16-18 in Anchorage. A talking circle initiated
by Rita Blumenstein, traditional healer, brought the group together.
A videotaped presentation given during the Association of Interior
Native Educators Conference by Dr. Shirley Holloway, Commissioner
for the Department of Education followed. Commissioner Holloway's
presentation mentioned the Alaska RSI's role in Alaska Native Education.
Working groups important to the Alaska RSI were formed
and interested members were assigned to a working group. Topics
of the working groups are: Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights,
Native Educators Network, Indigenous Curriculum Framework, Formulation
of the Regional Cultural Atlas, Control of Educational Systems
and the Alaska Native Knowledge Network Publication Review. A recap
of last year's initiatives followed. The annual report was reviewed
as well as the Alaska RSI strategic plan for year two.
A brief discussion took place about implementing
the Annenberg Rural Challenge MOAs and the effects on staff roles,
including new additions like Harold Napoleon who has been hired
to direct the Reclamation of Tribal Histories. A work plan with
the initiatives was formulated by each region for year two. The
remainder of the meeting welcomed the newly-founded board members
of the Alaska First Nations Research Network, a division of the
Mokakit Research Association in Canada. Dr. Oscar Kawagley presided
as director and planning began for hosting the Mokakit Conference
in Anchorage on February 10-11, 1997.
Overall, the staff meeting rejuvenated everyone into
the shift of regional initiatives, the addition of Annenberg Rural
Challenge and the new school year.
A Challenge for Rural Education in Alaska
by Ray Barnhardt
In July of this year, the Alaska Federation of Natives
received a grant from the Annenberg Rural Challenge (ARC) to implement
a new set of educational reform initiatives in rural Alaska that
extend the activities currently underway to integrate indigenous
knowledge into the areas of science and math education (under NSF
funding) to include the rest of the curriculum, especially social
studies and language arts.
The Alaska Rural Challenge initiatives will be coupled
with the Alaska Rural Systemic initiatives to provide a comprehensive
approach to educational reform that incorporates the holistic and
integrated nature of indigenous knowledge systems, ways of knowing
and world views. In addition to fostering closer linkages between
school and community, the combined initiatives will also foster
cross-curricular integration of subject matter. Following is a
list of the ARC initiatives, the activities associated with each
and the cultural region in which each one will be implemented in
Oral Tradition as Education (Southeast region)
- Foxfire/Camai oral history projects
- Project Jukebox CD-ROMs
- Family histories (genealogy)
Language/Cultural Immersion Camps (Yup'ik region)
- Camp environments (learning in context)
- Language nests (Te Kohanga Reo)
- Talking circles/Native values
ANCSA and the Subsistence Economy (Inupiaq region)
- Subsistence way of life
- ANCSA and the cash economy
- Soft technology
Living in Place (Athabascan region)
- Sense of place (cultural geography)
- It takes a whole village to raise a child
- Urban survival school/exchanges
Reclaiming Tribal Histories (Aleut/Alutiiq region)
- Tribal chronicles
- Alaska Native Reawakening Project
- Leadership development (youth/elders)
In addition to the regional initiatives outlined
above, the Alaska Rural Challenge will also implement an indigenous
curriculum support unit associated with the Alaska Native Knowledge
Network (ANKN). This unit will assist rural communities and school
districts in the development of indigenous curriculum resources
and Frameworks for their schools. These activities will be supported
by the development of a cultural atlas for each region, as well
as the posting of curriculum resources and links on the ANKN world
wide web site (http://zorba.uafadm.alaska.edu/ankn). All of the
above will be guided by an indigenous curriculum working group,
which will be made up of representatives from each of the cultural
As we have begun to document the cultural resources
that are already available to support a curriculum grounded in
the indigenous knowledge systems of Alaska, we are finding many
excellent localized models already developed and in use. It is
our intent to help draw these resources together and build on them,
so that changes that are instituted as a result of the Alaska RSI
and ARC are initiated from within rural schools and communities,
rather than imposed from outside. We invite anyone who has developed
or knows of cultural resources that might contribute to this effort
to get in touch with any of the staff listed in this newsletter,
such information can be shared with others who might find it helpful.
We hope this will be a collaborative effort involving all interested
What's in a Name?
The Recycling of Inupiaq Names and Implications
for Kinship: A Personal and Cultural Account
by Rachel Craig
Naming of our children is something that we as Inupiat
have taken for granted. Everybody has to have a name, right? If
we run out of Inupiaq names of people we like, then we ask our
mothers or grandmothers or other close relatives for names that
they would recommend from earlier generations or other kinfolk
that we were not aware of. It pleased them to know that we would
turn to them for assistance in something as important as the naming
of our child. This is one of the times that they rehearsed our
family trees to us and wonder why certain names did not get used
from either side of the family.
As prospective parents of the new namesake in the
family, we also got a glimpse of the depth of feeling that our
grandparents had for those early forebears and what some of our
ancestors' characteristic traits were. This lesson in our ongoing
genealogy brought the generations closer together. It gave our
generations thoughts and glimpses of our forebears that we knew
nothing about. It gave our informers the opportunity to remember
their relatives that they had not thought about in a long time,
plus giving them a time for a "teaching moment" to the next generation.
Another custom of some of our people is that some
elders single out a young child as their future mother or father.
Aakaksrautiin (my future mother) or aapaksrautiin (my future father),
the old people would call the child. Somehow they appreciated the
qualities of that child with whom they wished their namesake to
live. We didn't pay much attention to the words of the old people
when we were in our primary ages, but those endearments are remembered
at the time of childbearing age.
Take, for instance, my maternal grandfather. I don't
remember the exact circumstances one day when he let me know that
he didn't want me to name any of my children for him because he
said I was impatient. His namesake might be subjected to too much
scolding, he said. It didn't matter to me at the time because I
was too young to be thinking of children. Years later, I cared
for my nephew when his mother was ill in the hospital. Unbeknownst
to me, apparently my grandfather observed my "mothering." He said
to me then, that if I should have any children, even an adopted
one, that I should name one for him. His mother died while my grandfather
was young and his father raised him and his two older brothers.
Therefore, he would like to call her namesake his "mother."
When the elders hear that so-and-so's name was bestowed
on a newborn baby, the attitude of our elders then was that the
person had "come home" through the new namesake. Even though I
have worked with our elders for many years, I haven't yet figured
out if the Inupiat believed in reincarnation when they made comments
like this. Perhaps it's just a figure of speech that, in essence,
the person has "come home" as a namesake in a new person.
There are some individuals that our grandparents
say do not merit naming our children after. From my understanding,
it's not so much the discarding of the name but because of the
negative character traits that the person had. If the baby is given
that person's name anyway, words are spoken to the baby to the
effect that the previous namesake used up all those negative qualities
and for the new baby to pattern his life just the opposite way-the
specific qualities that the baby was supposed to seek after were
spoken to him.
The thing that goes along with naming is that when
you talk to a newborn baby, the child hears the words spoken to
it and unconsciously internalizes them. Later on you see those
traits just naturally exhibited by the child as he is growing up.
To give the newborn child words of wisdom of the character traits
in its first few days of life that you want him to live by the
rest of his life is an important custom among the Inupiat. In later
years, as the good qualities become evident in that person's life,
sometimes the only explanation is that so-and-so had spoken to
the baby in his infancy. That's why he is the way he is. Very strong
Perhaps I'm the only Eskimo that many of you have
seen, or will ever see. We very seldom call ourselves Eskimo, but
because of the power of the printed word, that's how the world
knows us. It was the Cree Indians of Canada that the explorers
heard call us Eskimo meaning "eaters of raw meat" in their Cree
language. Of course the printed word spread that name all over
the world. But from time immemorial, the relationship between the
Inupiat and the Indians has been pretty much like the Hatfields
and McCoys, although there were some exceptions which ended in
marriage. That is hardly the case now for us in Alaska since we
have been thrown together and educated by the good old U.S. Bureau
of Indian Affairs in boarding schools. We found out that some members
of the other tribes weren't so bad after all. But our name for
ourselves has always been Inupiaq which translates to an "authentic
human being" or a "real person." In other words, a local Native
person, one whose bloodlines are not mixed with other human groups.
This does not implicate dislike for other ethnic groups. A Native
mixed with Caucasian bloodlines would be Naluagmiuyaaq (mixed with
people with bleached skin), one who is part black would be Taaqsipaiyaaq
(one sired by a person having dark skin). I think we Inupiat have
become notorious for marrying into all ethnic groups of the world.
Back to naming. For most of my young years, I thought
I was named for my maternal great-grandmother. My grandfather always
called me Aakaan-meaning "my mother." It was much later when I
was doing our family genealogy that I began to realize that my
mother's younger sister had died in May and I was born the following
December, so I was actually named for my aunt. My maternal grandmother
used the same crooning words to me that she had used for her deceased
daughter-my namesake. Our word in Inupiaq is "nuniaq" when you
say all those sweet endearing words to the babies. It makes the
baby smile and become coy and not know what to do. In Inupiaq,
we say that the baby una.
My great-grandmother, for whom we were named, was
the favorite niece of one of her uncles. Whenever the uncle hunted,
he would save his niece the choice piece of meat from the breast
of ptarmigan or other fowl-savigutchaurat, we call them because
they are in the shape of a knife. So my great-grandmother, whose
name was Piquk, actually became known as Savigummuaq, a fractured
Inupiaq word that was intended to mean "somewhat like a shape of
a knife." Some members of my family sometimes call me "Savik" for
short, meaning "knife." When they ask me how I am, I tell them
that I'm sharp as ever. Actually, I have had some dull days, too.
So as names go, Savigummuaq is actually Piquk, like
Peggy is Margaret or Bill is William. I also have other namesakes
like Quunnignaq (one who calms the waters), Kayuqtuana (root word
is fox) and Kaluuraq (has something to do with a drumbeat.) These
are the names that my grandfather, Piquk's son, told me about.
Later on, I found out from other people that my atiins were also
Sapiqsuaq, Taapsuk and possibly others. All my namesakes have treated
me with the utmost kindness and best regard and I know that anyone
of them would have helped me in any way they could as much as I
would do for them. Being atiin with someone gives you a special
relationship that makes you proud to be with them and uplift them
as really good exceptional people. Our expectations from our namesakes
are high and we would do any good thing for them and stick up for
Two beautiful girls have been named for me. One is
a beautiful teenager of Irish descent with beautiful blue eyes
who has grown taller than me. She is the eldest of eight children.
Another girl, from my extended family, is about four years old.
She has a black father and she is equally beautiful in her personality
and very much loved by her brothers. I have a special bond with
these my namesakes. We really don't know how old our names are
or how many generations have used them. There's no way we can do
literature research, either, because all our history was oral until
an orthography was developed for our Inupiaq language in the late
Inupiaq names are given to us regardless of gender.
I have a friend who has a family of boys. She named one of them
for her grandmother who raised her. One of my uncles named one
of his sons for his mother. It is our understanding that if a male
person is given a known female's name that somehow that person
becomes a good hunter. My own mother bore her uncle's Inupiaq name.
I hardly knew her since she died when I was five years old. However,
she was known as a sharpshooter among her family. She could take
a -25.35 rifle without an attached scope and the geese that are
flying high that she aimed at would one by one fall to the ground.
Her father used to take her seal hunting with him because of her
shooting skills. And yet she was just as feminine as any woman
who loved good clothes and was conscious of her femininity at other
times. She also had a sister who was named for their grandfather.
This sister was strong and drove a dogteam, brought home logs to
burn for fuel, blocks of ice to melt for drinking water and did
village-to-village freighting by dogteam like any man. But still
she raised a large family of her own.
My mother's siblings that survived consisted of a
brother (the oldest in the family), five sisters in the middle
and, finally, another brother (the youngest.) The oldest brother
was chosen by a local old woman to be her new namesake because
my uncle's three eldest siblings had died in infancy and they wanted
this baby boy to live. In her day, the old woman was a known shaman
and her instructions were that he should not be called her name
while she lived. So one of his names became Atqiluaraq (one without
a name) and he became Qinugan upon the elderly lady's death. To
qinu is to desire something, so I imagine his name became your
desired one. When we were growing up we just accepted people's
names without wondering what they meant. It is only when we were
exposed to the Western culture and began to be asked all kinds
of questions including what our names meant that we started to
think about our Inupiaq names in terms of meaning.
Another custom of our people is that when one of
the children dies, the parents bestow the same Inupiaq name on
one of their younger newborn children. Then, for the record, two
individuals bear the same name in the same family, except that
one of them was born earlier but is deceased. My understanding
of that situation is that whoever bestowed that name on the child
loved the original namesake so much that they want to keep his
name alive in the family. I don't think the Christian concept of
resurrection of two members in the same family having the same
name even figured into the practice. This is a practice that pre-dates
the introduction of the Christian religion to the Inupiat and it
is still practiced today even among people who have become good
Another custom that is prevalent is that when an
adult is recently deceased, a new baby is given that deceased person's
name. It doesn't really matter that the deceased is not a blood
relative. I believe it is considered an honor to have the privilege
to name your child for that person to perpetuate his name and memory.
I have given you real examples of how we are given
our names. These are not theories, but situations which have developed
in families and happened in real life. I hope they mean something
to you. They certainly do to us Inupiat.
AISES Corner (American Indian Science & Engineering
by Claudette Bradley-Kawagley
October 10, 1996 was the birth of the Arctic Region
AISES Professional Chapter. The members are educators in the Nome
Public Schools, Northwest Arctic Borough School District, Bering
Straits School District and North Slope Borough School District.
They plan to meet monthly by audioconference. They will share plans
for AISES precollege activities in the four arctic regions village
Debra Webber-Werle was voted president. Debra is
a kindergarten and first grade teacher in Noatak. She received
a special National Science Foundation grant to build science activities
for students and interface activities with the community of Noatak.
Congratulations Debra! We have confidence that you will be an excellent
Members of UAF AISES Chapter continue their fundraising
efforts to send students to the AISES National Conference in Salt
Lake City, Utah, November 14-17. The chapter is sending five students
and three additional students are being funded by the Institute
of Marine Science.
The UAF AISES Chapter will host the Region I AISES
College Chapter Conference in Fairbanks March 6-8. The conference
will feature speakers, workshops, a career fair and a high school
session. High school students from Fairbanks and rural villages
will be invited.
School districts in the Interior have invited Claudette
Bradley-Kawagley to present and discuss AISES and AISES precollege
chapter/clubs with teachers in village schools. Claudette has presented
at the Yukon Flats Teacher in-service, Fairbanks North Star Borough
School District's Alaska Native Education Home-School Coordinators
meeting and plans have been made to discuss AISES precollege chapter/clubs
with teachers and students in the Yukon-Koyukuk School District.
There is a lot of enthusiasm in rural Alaska for
establishing AISES precollege chapters in village schools. Keep
informed by continuing to read "AISES Corner" in each issue of
Sharing Our Pathways.
Native Ways of Knowing and the Frameworks
by Peggy Cowan
State Standards and Frameworks
The State of Alaska's Department of Education has
developed voluntary academic standards in ten content areas. These
standards describe what all Alaska students should know, be able
to do and be committed to at the end of their school experience
in Alaska. Many districts are basing their school improvement work
on these standards. The Department of Education has developed Framework
documents, kits, CDROMs and a Web page to assist school districts
in designing programs that enable students to meet these standards.
Through the inspiration of the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative
and the hard work of its staff, the Department of Education has
added a section on indigenous curriculum organizers to the Frameworks'
Purpose of the Indigenous Section
Indigenous ways of knowing are based upon customs,
beliefs, behaviors and world views that are different from the
learning systems established by Western educational institutions.
This new section provides a framework to help districts design
compatible indigenous and non-indigenous learning systems that
allow for and support multiple world views.
This section of the framework provides district curriculum
committees with tools to:
- increase the awareness of curriculum committees
of the similarities and differences between indigenous and Western
world views and how these affect beliefs about knowledge and
- provide suggested design processes and models
of indigenous curriculum categories for the consideration of
district curriculum committees,
- link indigenous curriculum categories to state
standards and assessment schemes and
- encourage curriculum that is relevant to locales
and students' lives and futures.
The work of the indigenous Framework section is built
on a number of assumptions about curriculum in Alaska:
- Many curriculum categories exist that are sympathetic
with Native Alaskan ways of understanding the world that can
be used to organize school curriculum.
- The indigenous curriculum categories complement
and overlap organizers established by Western educational institutions.
- The curriculum categories will vary by Alaska
Native group, region and sub region and they could be chosen
by local schools or school districts when they do curriculum
design and revisions.
- The indigenous concepts are embedded in the language
so that many of the categories for district bilingual programs
could be applied to a broader curriculum context.
Ten sample curriculum organizers in the Framework
reference kits and notebooks are included as models for local curriculum
committees to consider. In general, these examples share the deep
cultural knowledge-an instructional process that develops higher
level thinking in students, and a sequence that invokes spiritual
and cosmological values.
Calling for Mokakit Conference Presenters!
On September 18, representatives from the major cultural
regions in Alaska met in Anchorage to form the Alaska First Nations
Research Network that will function as a chapter of the Canadian
Mokakit Native Education Research Association. In addition to getting
a process underway to develop by-laws and form a board for the
AFNRN chapter, primary attention was given to planning for the
upcoming 1997 Mokakit Conference to be held in Anchorage February
10-11. Along with the Canadian participants, we are urging anyone
in Alaska with possible ideas related to Native-oriented research
issues, projects or reports to submit a proposal for the Mokakit
Conference program. Deadline for submission is December 15 and
you can get ideas for possible presentation topics from the last
issue of the SOP newsletter. If you have questions, please contact
Oscar Kawagley or Ray Barnhardt at the Alaska Native Knowledge
Network, University of Alaska Fairbanks.
by Angayuqaq Oscar Kawagley
We have talked, discussed and suggested activities
in Native science, but have not really defined what we are talking
about. During the regional meeting in Kotzebue, a group of interested
people got together to talk about Native science. The following
are thoughts that were produced attempting to understand what it
is. It is requested that the staff and readers review and make
additions, deletions and modifications to the stated "givens" as
this is a beginning draft.
- Within our Native mythology and stories are the
sciences and within the Native sciences are the mythology and
- Native Science is concerned with asking the right
questions to learn from nature and the spiritual worlds.
- Native science is centered on studying natural
phenomena requiring long and patient observation-a matter of
- The Native empirical knowledge of habitats and
niches is conducive to intuition which may originate from the
subconscious, natural or spiritual worlds. The way of knowing
is qualitative and is conservation-based to ensure sustainability.
- Native ways of knowing are holistic or holographic
that recognizes relationships in place and influences to processes
in the ecological system.
- A belief in everything having a spirit establishes
a sense of spirituality which is inseparable from everyday life.
This spirituality is embedded in respect which gives honor and
dignity to all things. "We are biologists in our own way."
- Native science deals with all aspects of life:
health (healing plants), psychology, weather prediction, earth
science, shamanism, animal behavior according to seasons, stars
and constellations, reincarnation, natural permutations, rituals
and ceremonies to maintain balance and many areas of life.
- The Native scientist checks on past history and
events to see and understand the present situation.
Ideas on assessing educational change process in
Native language acquisition and learning of Native cultural and
- Is the study based on natural phenomena?
- Is the inquiry logical and meaningful?
- Is the historical (mythology & stories) data
- How was the conclusion arrived at?
- Does the data gathering process include holistic
- Does the process use the five senses and elements
Athabascan Regional Report
by Amy Van Hatten
Elders and Cultural Camp Initiative
I would like to acknowledge, with appreciation, the
Athabascan people and colleagues from the Interior for their kindness
and unselfishness in spending quality time with me this past summer
in cultural camps. The pride and self-confidence they displayed
has influenced and encouraged me to continue striving on their
behalf and to be a catalyst between the expertise of Alaska Native
elders and the educational institutions.
Through diligent work throughout the Interior, numerous
cultural camps were implemented this past spring and summer with
an emphasis on living with the land, animals and a diverse group
of people. Plans are to continue the camps as annual events.
The primary objective of this initiative was to enable
teachers, students, administrators, parents and elders to establish
a vehicle for integrating Alaska Native elders' expertise and knowledge
into the educational and scientific programs in the region. While
respecting our elders' wisdom and life experiences, we must be
willing to accept their advice on to how to deal with learning,
listening, life in the old ways and, in general, with today's problems.
Many of the cultural activities the elders demonstrated
were hands on and they gave personal attention to our new skills
as we practiced in front of them, giving a new meaning to "hand-made".
They shared their methods and unique way of improvising with what
nature has provided for centuries in regards to their available
tools, materials, ways of prolonging energy levels, gathering from
the land, story telling and unspoken Native spirituality and harmony,
just to name a few. We must pay attention to the protection of
cultural and intellectual property rights of Alaska Native people
as they make their traditional knowledge available to others. Traditionally,
a Native child was not instructed on how to achieve certain survival
skills. They were expected to learn from observation more than
from direct instructions. They had to observe carefully when parents
and grandparents were engaged in various activities and mimic the
behavior until they got it right.
A camera crew stayed at the Old Minto Elders' Camp
for the full duration. They are making a video for teacher in-services
that will illustrate the cultural value and educational potential
of incorporating elders and cultural camps in the school curriculum.
From my experience in being around elders, they want
our new generation to learn their Native language, oral stories,
legacies and to gain leadership and spiritual skills that will
equip us for a future without them. It is our responsibility to
perpetuate that new vision for the people and all others who are
The following is one sample of how traditional knowledge
integrates with Western astronomy through a traditional Kiowa story
of Tsoai (Plains Indians).
Eight children were there at play-seven
sisters and their brother. Suddenly the boy was struck dumb; he
trembled and began to run upon his hands and feet. His fingers
became claws and his body was covered with fur. Directly there
was a bear where the boy had been. The sisters were terrified;
they ran and the bear after them. They came to the stump of a great
tree and the tree spoke to them. It bade them climb upon it and
as they did so it began to rise into the air. The bear came to
kill them but they were beyond its reach. It reared against the
trunk and scored the bark all around with its claws. The seven
sisters were borne into the sky and they became the stars of the
(From The Ancient Child by N. Scott Momaday.)
Aleut Regional Report
by Moses L. Dirks
Indigenous Science Knowledge Base Initiative
The activities in the Aleut Region have been very
hectic this fall. The last two months required setting up elders'
council meetings in two locations-one in Kodiak and one at Unalaska.
The reason for this was to accommodate the cultural and linguistic
differences that exist among the Alutiiq and Aleut people.
On September 5 & 6, the elders from Kodiak and
the surrounding villages of Akhiok, Larsen Bay, Old Harbor, Port
Lions and Ouzinkie met for two days in Kodiak. The meeting arrangements
were made by the Kodiak Area Native Association and it was held
in their new offices. Thanks to executive director Kelly Simeonoff,
education director Connie Hogue and the newly hired graduate assistant
Sabrina Sutton for helping arrange the meeting. The purpose of
the meeting was to introduce the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative
and to get input from the elders on topics they thought would be
of interest to their children or their grandchildren. This meeting
focused on getting direction from the elders about topics on Native
ways of knowing. There has been some documentation of Native ways
of knowing but very little has been done to integrate that into
Bill Schneider and Kathy Turco from the Oral History
Department of the University of Alaska Fairbanks were instrumental
in recording the discussions of the Kodiak elders on tape. The
guidelines for research were discussed with the elders so that
they had some ideas on how the materials would be used. Concerns
were expressed by the elders about past experiences with the knowledge
that was used by researchers and scientists-mostly without their
involvement. Some assurances were given to the elders by Bill Schneider
that the use of this information would be subject to the approval
of the sources. Bill stressed to the Kodiak elders that once the
recordings are documented they will become part of the public record
and will be housed at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History
Department at the Fairbanks campus.
The purpose of the Alaska RSI is to bridge indigenous
and Western knowledge while making both user friendly to classrooms.
This has not been done on a full scale at the schools, so it is
going to be interesting. With the help of our elders we will have
a chance to implement valuable information that will be used in
During the course of the meeting, the Kodiak elders
talked about the following categories: weather predictions, building
and materials, Native food (how they were prepared and preserved
in the past) and Alutiiq medicinal plants. Time for discussions
was limited so not all topic areas were discussed in great length.
The Kodiak meeting went quite well and information was gathered
to begin documenting the initiative.
The Aleutian elders met at Unalaska September 12-17
in conjunction with the rededication of the Holy Ascension Church
of Unalaska. This event was the Second Annual Aleut Elders Council
meeting held in the Aleutians. It was sponsored by the Aleutian/Pribilof
Islands Association and the city of Unalaska.
Since elders were in Unalaska for the Annual Elders
Conference, we also wanted to meet with our Elders' council. The
Aleut Elders Council for the Alaska RSI met for the first time.
The villages represented were Atka, Nikolski, Unalaska, Akutan,
King Cove, Sand Point and Pribilofs. The meeting took place at
the Grand Aleutian Hotel in Dutch Harbor.
Alaska RSI co-directors Oscar Kawagley and Ray Barnhardt
gave presentations on the project and answered questions. Co-director
Oscar Kawagley told a traditional story about how the crane got
its blue eyes. He then applied that to indigenous science. With
his expertise and understanding of the indigenous cultures, he
helped the elders in understanding what the program was about.
Co-director Ray Barnhardt gave an overhead presentation
on the different initiatives that were going on statewide and outlined
to the elders and the audience what the Aleut Region initiative
was for the first year. He then went over the plan for the next
four years. Annenberg Rural Challenge was also introduced to the
elders. This is a newly funded program which rounds off the Alaska
RSI project. The Alaska RSI project focuses on the science and
math areas. The Annenberg Rural Challenge will be focusing on the
social studies and language arts areas (see "A Challenge for Rural
Education in Alaska" on page three of this newsletter.)
During the meeting with the elders, the following
topics were discussed: navigation, food preservation and preparation,
survival and weather prediction in the Aleutians. We would like
to thank Ray Hudson, a former teacher and historian, for helping
out with the discussions and Barbara Svarny Carlson and Susie Golodoff
for the recording of the meeting and assisting in the compilation
of existing materials once direction was given by the Aleut Elders
Council. Kathy Turko did the recording of the sessions. It was
a good turnout for the initial meeting. The elders met and were
successful in setting the goals of the first year of the Aleut
Region Initiative. If you want to make comments about the project
or if you have questions, please don't hesitate to call me at (907)
274-3611 or write to me at the address listed in the newsletter.
Yup'ik/Cup'ik Regional Report
by Barbara Liu, Yugtun "Makell"
Native Ways of Knowing and Teaching Initiative
Waqaa, Camai-Y/Cugtun naaqiyugngalriani. Ciumek
Qanrucuugamci caliamtenek Amiirairvigmi. Qula malrugnek cipluku
tegganret quyurtellruut Mamterillermi pingayuni ernerni. Angayuqam
ilagallruakut. Quyurtaqamta yugtarmi qanerturluteng Y/Cugtun
augkut tegganret taillret nunanek waniug Kuinerraamek, Kassiglumek,
Naparyaarmek, Cev'armek, Manuquutamek, Nanvarpagmek, Mamterrillermek-llu
pillruut. Quyaviksugaput arcaqerluku Naparyaarmek temirtenrat
ilagautellra taugaam cali tuingunrituurluku cam illiiniku tangrutenqigciiqngamta
unitengravkut. Imiirat qanellrit wii caliaqciqanka. Cayarait
arnat anguutet-llu allakaulaata avvluki piyugyaaqanka uumiku.
Atam, ayuqestasiigutekluku melquliuyaram caliari amllertut. Angutet
wall'u arnaungermeng pissutullruit. Caliaqellrit-llu pitat ayuqevkenani
cayaralirluni taqellranun yaavet atuurkaurrluku. Uumiku pikumta
avvluta angutet tegulallratnun piciqut. Arnat-llu pikata pitat
caliaritnun amiilratnek, neqkiurluki, atuurkiullritnun. Augna
tuai ayuqestassiigutekluku qanrutkaqa. Elitnaurutkanun ayagyuamta
elicarcuutaitnun alngaqsugluki piinanemteni piyuutekluku. Cali
maai uksuarumainanrani piyunarqekumta tegganret allaneqsugyaaqanka
Mamterillermi Uivik tupailgan. Tua-i waten pitaunga. Uumiku pillerkangqerquma
cali qanemciciqua. Ikayungcaquvet makut ciuliamta qanellratnun
Hello readers, first off, I would like to let you
know that the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative Yup'ik/Cup'ik Elders
Council met September 3-5. Twelve elders met in Bethel for three
days. Oscar Kawagley was with us. We met at the Yup'ik/Cup'ik museum
conducting meetings in Yup'ik/Cup'ik only, with elders from Quinhagak
(Andy and Elizabeth Sharp), Kasigluk (Teddy and Eliza Brink), Hooper
Bay (Jonathan Johnson), Chevak (Joseph and Lucy Tuluk), Manakotak
(Henry Alakayak and Anuska Nanalook), Illiamna (Gregory and Evelyn
Anelon, Sr.) and Bethel (Lucy Beaver). We (Alaska RSI) would like
to send a special thank you to the spirit of our eldest elder from
Hooper Bay, Jonathan Johnson, ninety-four, who passed on September
16. It's not the end; someday we shall see each other again, though
we part physically.
I will work on the collected documents. Traditional
male and female roles are defined separately, so I prefer to do
the same when the elders meet. For example, care of an animal,
particularly one that has been caught, is a step-by-step process
to acquire an end product from the raw resource. Using this example,
men and women in different settings share varying experiences of
animal care. From this perspective, math and science activities
will be tasseled (like on a parka tassel) onto educational materials
and curriculum adaptation.
This fall I plan to hold more elders' workshops,
gathering oral indigenous knowledge in Bethel before the month
of December. That's it for now. Next time, God willing, I will
have more to share. If you need assistance with Yup'ik/Cup'ik elders
documentation, I am happy to help in any way I can.
Lake and Peninsula School District Liaison
by Gregory Anelon, Jr.
Camai, I'm Gregory Anelon, Jr. and I will be working
as a liaison between the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative project
and the Lake and Peninsula School District. I have two boys, Chad
and Matthew, and a very lovely wife, Staci, who, I must admit,
is expecting our third child. I was hired in August after moving
to Newhalen from Bethel where I worked at the Lower Kuskokwim School
District as a Community & Career Development Specialist. In
my new position, I found that I must work with three cultural groups:
Yup'ik, Athabascan and Aleut. A very ambitious task but after meeting
the Alaska RSI regional coordinators, I feel that they will make
my job more tolerable. It was a pleasure to have met most of the
people involved with the Alaska RSI project during the September
staff meeting in Anchorage. At the present time I do not have a
permanent e-mail address, however you can contact me through my
America On-Line address, GAnelon484@aol.com, or my home phone (907)
571-1568. Have a safe and a happy Thanksgiving.
Village Science: Good Stew
by Alan Dick
Good ideas, like good stew, take time to simmer.
There are a few good ideas that come quickly, but most come gradually
over time. For years I wondered why campfire smoke followed me
around the fire. For years I wondered why winter trails set up
overnight. For years I wondered why warming my hands in the chainsaw
exhaust was counterproductive. For years I wondered why clouds
seemed to hide behind mountain tops in a strong wind. Right now
I am pondering potholes in dirt roads. I wonder if there is a similar
phenomena in nature. I haven't thought of one yet unless it is
at the foot of waterfalls. I don't know if any good will come of
my pondering, but every once in a while, I bring up the thoughts
in my mind and roll them over.
As we develop science curriculum based on the local
environment, we must acknowledge that it takes time to come up
with good questions as well as good answers. Some ideas turn into
dead ends. Perhaps my dirt road with potholes is such a venture.
It is hard to tell at this stage. The last work I did in developing
curriculum based on village life came to me over a three-year span.
I was working on the roof when an idea came. I climbed down the
ladder to make note of it. As I was driving a boat or cutting wood,
ideas came. Usually they come in the middle of an activity. Writing
them down before they drift away takes a conscious effort. New
ideas are fragile and need to be handled very gently. They are
easily lost. They are often overcome by discouragement. However,
I have found that "making a stew" of relevant ideas, allowing them
to simmer in my mind, and finally bringing them forth when they
are complete is one of the most satisfying processes of my life.
Good stew simmers well on the back of the cook stove, the ingredients
mingling in a way that each one compliments the other. Our intent
now is to simmer the ingredients of Western and indigenous science,
allow them to mingle and compliment each other. The composite will
be far more savory than the ingredients in isolation. As we develop
the new ideas, we must be careful to allow them the necessary time
for formation. If we do, they will endure.
Southeast Regional Report
by Andy Hope
Culturally Aligned Curriculum Adaptations Initiative
I started work in late December 1995. In mid-January
of this year, I met with the Southeast consortium partners for
the first time: Sidney Stephens of the Alaska Science Consortium,
Peggy Cowan (science specialist) and Nancy Spear (math specialist)
of the Department of Education, and Richard Dauenhauer of Sealaska
Heritage Foundation. We discussed possible strategies for addressing
the initiative for the first year-Culturally-Aligned Curriculum
I was able to secure office space at the University
of Alaska Southeast Juneau campus, thanks to Marshall Lind. The
first major event of the year was the Native Curriculum Workshop
that took place in conjunction with the Third Conference of Tlingit
Tribes and Clans, March 28-30 in Ketchikan and Saxman. All consortium
partners were present for this workshop. The participants in the
Ketchikan workshop laid the groundwork for the Southeast Alaska
Native Educators Association. The Southeast Regional Elders Council
also organized in Ketchikan. Elders council members include: Arnold
Booth of Metlakatla (chair), Isabella Brady of Sitka, Joe Hotch
of Klukwan, Charles Natkong of Hydaburg, Lydia George of Angoon
and Gil Truitt of Sitka.
In April, the Sitka and Chatham School Districts
signed MOAs to participate in the project. Oscar Kawagley and I
traveled to Sitka and Angoon in the spring to meet with district
and community representatives.
The Southeast Native Educators held another organizational
meeting in early June. The Southeast Elders Council also met in
early June. All of the elders council members (also Jackie Kookesh
and Pauline Duncan of the Southeast Native Educators) served as
presenters at the Summer Teacher Academies Multicultural Education
course in Juneau.
The Alaska Science Consortium and the Alaska Department
of Education co-sponsored a Native Science Curriculum workshop
in late June in Juneau. A group of four teachers worked with Sidney
Stephens and Peggy Cowan to draft a science unit based on Tlingit
knowledge, addressing science standards and using appropriate teaching
and assessment strategies.
Another Native Science curriculum workshop took place
in Sitka in early October. The workshop was hosted by the Alaska
Science Consortium and the Department of Education. Teachers from
ten districts from throughout Southeast Alaska participated, with
emphasis on teachers from Chatham and Sitka School Districts. Chatham
and Sitka teachers designated working teams and team leaders to
work with the Alaska RSI project. The Southeast Alaska Native Educators
Association also formally organized at this time and elected officers:
Isabella Brady of Sitka and Jackie Kookesh of Angoon were elected
co-chairs; other officers include Evi Fennimore of Wrangell, Ruth
Demmert of Kake, Mary Jean Duncan of Angoon, Phyllis Carlson of
Juneau and Rocky Eddy of Juneau. The Sitka and Chatham teams are
committed to coordinate their Alaska RSI efforts in the future.
The Sitka and Chatham teams will participate in a
Native science and math curriculum guide workshop in November.
This workshop will assess curriculum resources currently available
in their respective districts and draft guides for a Tlingit math
book, calendar and map. The workshop will be facilitated by Jackie
Kookesh with support from Alaska RSI and Richard and Nora Dauenhauer
of Sealaska Heritage Foundation.
A data collection/archive workshop will also take
place in November. Participants will include the Sitka and Chatham
district teams, Sitka Tribe of Alaska staff, Sheldon Jackson Library
staff and Egan Library (UAS) staff. The workshop will be facilitated
by Jana Garcia, a Haida archivist.
Inupiaq Regional Report
by Elmer Jackson
Village Science Applications Initiative
On September 6-8, the first American Indian Science & Engineering
Society (AISES) teacher liaison meeting was held in Kotzebue. In
attendance were liaison teachers from the Northwest Arctic Borough
School District, Bering Straits School District and the North Slope
Borough School District and Village Science coordinators Kathy
Itta of Ilisagvik College, Barrow and Bernadette Alvanna-Stimpfle
of Northwest Campus, Nome. Also in attendance were the Alaska RSI
co-directors Ray Barnhardt and Oscar Kawagley, AISES coordinator
Claudette Bradley-Kawagley and Scientists-in-Residence coordinator
Larry Duffy. School district liaisons are Bernadette Alvanna-Stimpfle
of Nome City School District, Kipi Asicksik of Bering Strait School
District, Ava Carlson of North Slope Borough School District and
Bruce Hemmel of the Northwest Arctic Borough School District.
One of our tasks is to start the AISES chapters in
schools in the Inupiaq Regions. I contacted three school districts
about our intentions. Another task is to get the Scientists-in-Residence
program started. Principals and teachers should have received information
on the above. Please contact any of the liaison teachers at your
school district or me at (907) 475-2257, fax 475-2180, if you would
like to be involved in the AISES chapters or the Scientists-in-Residence
program. Claudette Bradley-Kawagley can be contacted at (907) 474-5376
and Larry Duffy can be contacted at (907) 474-7525.
Tentatively planned for November 7, 8 & 9, is
a workshop in Nome to continue our work with AISES and the Scientists-in-Residence
program. We invite principals, teachers and other interested people
This is the second year I've been involved with the
Northwest Arctic Borough School District's Bilingual/Bicultural
Education Program. The Inupiaq Language and Curriculum Committee
has been reviewing the purpose and goals of the bilingual program.
We are in the process of restating the philosophy statement and
have begun developing Inupiaq language objectives for pre-kindergarten
through third grades. I plan to invite Kathy Itta and Bernie Alvanna-Stimpfle
to attend one of these sessions, hopefully next month.
Principals and teachers, please contact us about
these worthwhile projects. It will enhance learning and be fun
for the students. Taikuu.
North Slope Regional Activities
by Katherine Itta, North Slope Alaska RSI/Annenberg
The Ilisagvik College is coordinating closely with
the North Slope Borough School District (NSBSD) in the implementation
of the 1996 activities centering on "village science". The college
stresses the need to incorporate science concepts which are meaningful
to the region, especially those that are related to the environmental
sciences. This fall, the Ilisagvik College staff and the NSBSD
staff plan on traveling to several sites to help organize the North
Slope Science and Engineering Clubs. The Ipalook Elementary School
is excited about the development of their K-5 science and engineering
club and we look forward to assisting them in their efforts. In
the discussion of the American Indian Science and Engineering chapters
(AISES), the North Slope region expressed concern about the term "American
Indian" since the Inupiat do not consider themselves to be "American
Indian" and felt that the term is exclusive of Inupiat and other
ethnic groups. At the meeting held on the sixth of September, it
was decided that the Inupiat region AISES clubs would choose their
own local names but will be affiliated with the national AISES
On the North Slope, we are looking for volunteers
in the science and engineering community to "adopt a school" and
be willing to be a role model, to encourage science and engineering
careers, and to assist teachers in their science programs. We also
look forward to the development of an Inupiat Science Exploritorium
to celebrate our students' science projects in the region. One
of the plans is to showcase science projects in the 50th Anniversary
of the Naval Arctic Research Laboratory, an event being sponsored
by the Barrow Arctic Science Consortium and scheduled for August
Arva Carlson and Tim Buckley are co-teaching a high
school course on Arctic Science and the college has been assisting
their efforts through membership in the Arctic Science Consortium
of the United States. We encourage North Slope high school science
teachers to incorporate the Inupiaq perspective in the sciences
and draw attention to the Inuit Circumpolar Science Initiatives
and local science research policies that call for indigenous participation
in research projects. As the Ilisagvik College expands its science
education program, we look forward to offering additional courses
in the sciences designed to reflect the blending of knowledge systems.
For example, a course is being developed and proposed for the spring
of 1997 on the topic of Bowhead whales through a cooperative partnership
with the North Slope Borough (NSB) Wildlife Department. The Ilisagvik
College also anticipates an Inupiaq research focus in the development
of educational programs in the North Slope Cultural Center scheduled
to open in 1998.
We are assisting Alan Dick in the development of
the publication North Slope Village Science and Chip McMillan in
the development of a "northernized" Science Nuggets book. Also
under production is the NSB Wildlife Department's curriculum project
on Fishes of the North Slope. We support curriculum development
projects that are focused on conceptual Inupiaq knowledge, in other
words, projects that delve into Inupiaq perspectives and not just "at
the tip of the iceberg."
Bering Straits Report
by Yaayuk Alvanna-Stimpfle, Village Science Coordinator,
Northwest Campus, Nome
I came on board in March of 1996. For the first two
and a half months, I've been getting to know what this job entails.
I made presentations to the Native Parent Education Committee at
the Nome Public Schools and the Sitnasuak Elders' Council at Sitnasuak
Native Corporation in Nome. I traveled to Unalakleet with Claudette
and Oscar Kawagley to talk about the American Indian Science and
Engineering Society (AISES) with the principal and the science
teachers. I also established contacts with the Nome Public Schools
and the Bering Straits School District to introduce the Alaska
Rural Systemic Initiative (Alaska RSI) project.
This fall, I've been busy working with the Nome elementary
schools' bilingual-bicultural instructors, writing the lesson plans
since they are already integrated into the science themes. The
elementary school science themes are three years, a quarter long
and four themes per year. The themes change every year and are
repeated every three years.
I included Inupiaq vocabulary and put the themes
into seasonal activities depending on what the Native population
is doing. For example, the men are hunting moose and seal now,
so I will be working on navigation and weather predictions with
the astronomy theme for the next quarter. I also included traditional
stories right into the lessons.
I've been asked to present the Alaska RSI project
to the Northwest Campus Advisory Council in December and to the
Kawerak Inc. board members sometime in the future. Tavra.
Alaska RSI Contacts
The Alaska RSI Regional Coordinators are located
in five regions within the state of Alaska. They are listed below
to help you identify the correct contact.
Amy Van Hatten
Athabascan Regional Coordinator
University of Alaska Fairbanks
PO Box 756730
Fairbanks, Alaska 99775-6730
(907) 474-0275 phone
Inupiaq Regional Coordinator
PO Box 134
Kiana, Alaska 99749
Southeast Regional Coordinator
University of Alaska Southeast
School of Business/PR
11120 Glacier Highway
Juneau, Alaska 99801
Yup'ik Regional Coordinator
Bethel, Alaska 99559
Aleutians Regional Coordinator
Alaska Federation of Natives
1577 C Street, Suite 201
Anchorage, Alaska 99501
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