A newsletter of the Alaska Rural Systemic
Alaska Federation of Natives / University
of Alaska / National Science Foundation
Volume 6, Issue 3, Summer 2001
In This Issue:
Holds Forum on Culturally-Responsive Curriculum
by Frank Hill, Oscar Kawagley and Ray Barnhardt
On March 26-28, 2001, over 50 educators from across
the state gathered in Anchorage for a forum on culturally-responsive
curriculum sponsored by the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative (AKRSI).
A dedicated group of Elders, Native educators and others actively
involved in curriculum initiatives associated with the AKRSI spent
three days reviewing current curriculum efforts and outlining steps
for future development.
Given the many new state mandates, school reform
initiatives and ongoing challenges that school districts are grappling
with today, it seemed an opportune time to step back and reflect
on where we are and where we want to go with Native education in
Alaska. The focus of the curriculum forum was to take a look at
how education programs and services can best be positioned to push
our curriculum development efforts beyond just developing more
culturally-appropriate "units" and exploring what a broader culturally-responsive
curriculum "framework" might look like and then to build on this
to determine where the AKRSI resources can be best put to use over
the next few years. In addition to going over existing materials
and models, we explored what it means for curriculum and instruction
when attempting to operationalize the Alaska Standards for Culturally-Responsive
Schools, and what kind of support is needed to move that process
forward. Along with presentations on many exciting regional curriculum
development initiatives from around the state by participants from
each of the five cultural regions, reports were made on the following
current statewide programs and initiatives:
Orientation to ANKN SPIRAL Curriculum Resources/Web
Site: Sean Topkok
Curriculum Resources at www.
alaskool.org: Paul Ongtooguk
Innuqatagiit/Dene Kede Curriculum Models: Cathy
Handbook for Culturally-Responsive Science Curriculum:
Translating Science Standards into Practice:
Village Science/Alaska Native Science and Engineering
Society: Alan Dick
GLOBE Project: Sidney Stephens
Subsistence Contaminants Curriculum Project:
Marvin Bailey, Patricia Cochran
Alaska Challenger Project: Daniela Martian
Carnegie Math Tutor Initiative: Bev Smith
Cooperative Extension Fisheries Project: Peter
Stortz, Zelma Axford
Cultural Atlas Initiative: Sean Topkok
ARCTIC Technology Initiative: John Rusyniak
Following status reports on the various regional
and statewide initiatives, the participants turned their attention
to developing recommendations for action plans around three focal
areas. Following is a summary of the recommendations put forward
for follow-up actions in each of the focal areas (no order of priority
Group 1: Develop local and regional strategies
for school districts to implement culturally-responsive curriculum.
This group was to prepare an action plan outlining
strategies to guide district-level curriculum initiatives and regional
collaboration aimed at improving the cultural responsiveness of
school curricula. Recommendations of this group included:
The AKRSI regional coordinators should organize
a "Regional Curriculum Forum" in conjunction with the regional
planning meetings in the fall.
The AKRSI staff should work with the regional
Native educator associations to develop a CD-ROM template that
provides a locally- adaptive framework to facilitate culturally-aligned
AKRSI should develop a "Talent Bank" of knowledgeable
Native educators who are available to provide culturally-appropriate
professional development for teachers, administrators, schools
AKRSI, Native educator associations and AASB
should provide assistance for local school boards to develop
a vision for implementing culturally-responsive schools (e.g.,
AKRSI staff should assist in developing a network
of curriculum development expertise to assist local schools
and districts in implementing the cultural standards for curriculum.
State, regional and village corporations and
foundations should provide political support and investment
for strengthening the role of schools in local communities.
AFN should work with the Native educator associations
to promote educational policies that support the implementation
of culturally-responsive schools throughout the state.
The Alaska Department of Education and Early
Development and AKRSI should use school district report card
data and the cultural standards to document the relationship
between culturally-responsive curriculum and issues associated
with student achievement.
School districts should establish locally-knowledgeable
teams of teachers, Elders and aides to promote culturally-responsive
curriculum in the schools.
The Alaska Department of Education and Early
Development and AKRSI should establish a procedure for a cadre
of Quality School consultants who can assist schools in developing "school
improvement plans" based on the Alaska Standards for Culturally-Responsive
Group 2: Develop statewide strategies for supporting
school districts in implementing culturally-responsive curriculum.
This group was to prepare an action plan outlining
statewide strategies to guide the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative,
the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development and the
University of Alaska in providing support to schools for implementation
of culturally-responsive curricula. Recommendations of this group
Support for curriculum initiatives should focus
on those school districts that have the greatest need and are
most receptive to implementing new approaches so as to achieve
the greatest demonstration effect and impact.
AKRSI should organize the curriculum resources
and technical assistance that are available to schools seeking
to become more culturally responsive into a package of support
services that can be tailored to meet school district needs.
The Alaska Department of Education and Early
Development should provide incentives for school districts
to implement cultural orientation programs for new teachers
as part of their annual in-service plan submitted to EED. The
orientation program should include an extended camp experience
and an "Adopt-a-Teacher" program.
The University of Alaska and EED should make
available a "cross-cultural specialist" endorsement for teachers
built around the criteria outlined in the Alaska Standards
for Culturally-Responsive Schools and the Guidelines
for Preparing Culturally-Responsive Teachers.
The UA system should develop a unified approach
for the delivery of performance-based elementary and secondary
teacher preparation programs and degrees to rural Alaska, with
a particular focus on the professional development of the 700-plus
teacher aides in rural schools.
All teacher preparation programs should fully
incorporate the Guidelines for Preparing Culturally-Responsive
Teachers and prepare teachers who are equipped to work
with communities in implementing the Alaska Standards for
The Guidelines for Preparing Culturally-Responsive
Teachers and the Alaska Standards for Culturally-Responsive
Schools should serve as the basis for the review and
approval of courses to be used to meet the state Multicultural
Education and Alaska Studies requirements.
The school designator criteria being established
by EED should include an assessment of the extent to which
the ethnic composition of a schools professional staff is proportional
to the ethnic composition of the students being served, and
if they are disproportional, the school improvement plan should
indicate how such a balance will be achieved.
AKRSI should work with the Alaska EED to develop
a process and support structure to assist schools designated
as low-performing in the development of school improvement
plans consistent with the Alaska Standards for Culturally-Responsive
A cadre of Culturally-Responsive Quality Schools
consultants should be established who are fully knowledgeable
in all aspects of the implementation of the Alaska Standards
for Culturally-Responsive Schools to assist districts in
the development of culturally-appropriate school improvement
plans. Areas of CRQSC expertise should include the following:
multiple standards for measuring school success;
appropriate methods for assessing local educational
history of alternative approaches to school structure
role and practices of successful administrators;
procedures for developing and implementing a
local plan of action;
strategies for parent, community and staff involvement;
relevant aspects of school law and state regulations;
alternative school staffing and scheduling arrangements
techniques for systematic observation and analysis
of school practices.
Information on the beneficial effects of the Alaska
Standards for Culturally-Responsive Schools on student
achievement should be made available in multiple ways to
schools and communities.
AKRSI should work with the Native educator associations
to develop a set of guidelines for culturally-responsive school
boards and to orient superintendents to the strategies for
implementing the Alaska Standards for Culturally-Responsive
Appropriate resources and training should be
made available to ensure that the history of Alaska Native
peoples is fully integrated in all Alaska and U.S. history
courses in an accurate and representative manner.
AKRSI should seek funds to provide support for
Native educator associations to become more actively involved
in all aspects of policy- and decision-making regarding education
The Alaska Federation of Natives, the Native
corporations, the First Alaskans Foundation, the Denali Commission
and the Consortium for Alaska Native Higher Education should
take a proactive role in support of integrating the Alaska
Standards for Culturally-Responsive Schools and associated
guidelines in all aspects of education in Alaska.
All of the recommendations derived from the Forum
on Culturally-Responsive Curriculum should be reviewed on a
region-by-region basis to formulate appropriate regional action
plans for their implementation.
Group 3: Develop strategies for regional Native
educator associations to play an active role in implementing
This group was to prepare an action plan outlining
strategies to guide the involvement of regional Native educator
associations in the development and implementation of culturally-responsive
curricula. Recommendations of this group included:
The regional Native educator associations should
work closely with local and regional corporations to establish
ongoing Elders councils (e.g., Calista Elders Council) to provide
guidance at all levels in implementing the Alaska Standards
for Culturally-Responsive Schools.
The Native educator associations should work
with Elders to document traditional ways of knowing and terminologies
not used in everyday conversation to make them available for
use in curriculum materials development.
The Native educator associations and AKRSI should
organize grant-writing workshops for teachers to obtain funds
for curriculum and teacher training initiatives.
AKRSI should set up a section of the ANKN web
site listing grant opportunities and guidelines for funding
Native education initiatives.
Native educator associations should utilize the
ERIC Clearinghouse to obtain current information on research
related to American Indian/Alaska Native education issues (http://www.
Regional Native educator associations should
utilize the Cook Inlet Tribal Council resource materials to
support recruitment and placement of Native teachers and administrators.
Native educator associations should assist teachers
in developing the proper protocol and practices for working
with Elders in a culturally-appropriate educational capacity,
including effective use of the Guidelines for Respecting
School districts should include Native educators
in all curriculum discussions with the explicit responsibility
of promoting the incorporation of the Alaska Standards for
Culturally-Responsive Schools in all aspects of education
Native educator associations should incorporate
as 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations so they can secure and manage
funding for their own initiatives.
Native educator associations should each host
a minimum of two to three audioconference meetings per year
to provide an opportunity for members to identify current issues,
voice concerns and formulate strategies.
Native educator associations should assist graduate
students in identifying appropriate topics for research projects
and theses that will contribute to the educational needs of
The recommendations outlined above are intended to
serve as the basis for more detailed action plans by the designated
organizations. We wish to express appreciation to all the participants
in the Forum on Culturally-Responsive Curriculum for contributing
their valuable time and insights to this effort. We invite everyone
with an interest in these issues to offer additional ideas and
suggestions for how the action plans can be further strengthened
so that we can look forward to a bright future for education in
Native Education Advisory Council to the Commissioner
Bernice B. Tetpon, Rural/Native Education Liaison
The Alaska State Board Action Plan on Native Student
Learning includes a provision that the Department of Education & Early
Development "establish a Native Education council to advise the
commissioner." The Native Education Advisory Council's purpose
is to focus on the improvement of the quality of instruction so
it meets the needs of our Native students.
Members include: Esther A. Ilutsik, Ciulistet Research
Association; Moses Dirks, Unangan Educators Association; Sophie
Shield, Association of the Native Educators of the Lower Kuskokwim;
Lolly Carpluk, Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative; Andy Hope, Southeast
Native Educators Association; Oscar Kawagley, Alaska First Nations
Research Network; Frank Hill, Co-Director, AKRSI, Alaska Federation
of Natives; Dorothy Larson, Consortium for Alaska Native Higher
Education; Cecilia Martz, Retired Indigenous Professors Association;
Teri Schneider, Native Educators of the Alutiiq Region; Martha
Stackhouse, North Slope Iñupiaq Educators Association; Nita
Rearden, Alaska Native Education Council; Sam Towarak, Bering Straits
Region Native Educators and Carol Lee Gho, Association of Interior
Native Educators. Bernice B. Tetpon, Rural/Native Education Liaison,
is the contact person at the Department of Education & Early
Development for the Council.
The Council will be meeting via audio conference
this year. Many topics that are discussed come from the initiatives
developed by the Native Educator Associations and the Alaska Federation
of Natives resolutions passed during the annual convention. Discussions
surround the initiatives and resolutions and their impact on educational
policies, regulation and funding with recommendations to the commissioner.
During the first meeting, March 9, 2001, Oscar Kawagley
was nominated to chair the Native Education Advisory Council to
the Commissioner. Topics of discussion included:
Guidelines for Nurturing Culturally-Healthy Youth
Guidelines for Nurturing Culturally-Healthy Youth and
designation of the Department of Education & Early Development's
involvement with follow up activities to be determined at a later
Guidelines for Strengthening Indigenous Languages
Discussion centered on Senate Bill 103: An act relating
to a curriculum for Native language education. Several districts
are using the guidelines developed at the October 2001 Alaska Native
Language Forum to develop the Native Language Advisory Committees.
These are: home language survey, rationale of current program;
description of delivery model and description of resources
Cross-Cultural Education Specialist Endorsement
It was recommended that new teachers could benefit
from this course as part of their professional development and
a salary increase as an incentive. Summer institutes as well as
learning from the natural environment will be a part of the activities.
The council reviewed AFN Resolutions 00-11 through
00-16. Included was a discussion on the AFN Resolution 00-11 requiring
that Alaska history be taught in the schools of Alaska and House
Bill 171 which is an act relating to a curriculum for Alaska history
with a Native studies component. Each Council member requested
to review HB 171 to provide input.
The April 2, 2001 meeting focused on unfinished business
from the March 9 meeting. The results were that the council is
recruiting Native Educators as Quality School consultants. The
council will also recruit Native Educators to participate in the
development of story problems on the Carnegie Algebra I Tutor addendum.
The next audio conference is scheduled for May 25,
New Graduate Program Emphasizes Indigenous Knowledge
by Ray Barnhardt and Oscar Kawagley
A new Master of Arts degree in Cross-Cultural Studies
with an emphasis on indigenous knowledge systems was approved by
the UA Board of Regents on March 9, 2001. The program, to be offered
by UAF, is designed to provide graduate students from various fields
of interest an opportunity to pursue in-depth study focusing on
the role and contributions of indigenous knowledge in the contemporary
The new M.A. program will provide a means to expand
our knowledge base in areas that have received only limited attention
in the past, as well as to document and pass that knowledge on
to future generations in a culturally sensitive way. The intent
of the program is to incorporate and contribute to newly emerging
bodies of scholarship that have much to offer in addressing critical
needs of the state. It will be available to students throughout
Alaska by distance education in combination with intensive seminars
and summer courses on campus.
Graduates of the program will be expected to bring
greater depth and breadth of cultural understanding to many of
the complex social issues and fields of endeavor that shape Alaska
today, especially those involving cross-cultural considerations
and utilizing indigenous knowledge systems (e.g., education, ecological
studies, natural resources, health care, community development,
social services, justice, Native studies, etc.) Students will be
required to demonstrate their ability to work effectively with
indigenous people in their studies and to complete a final cultural
documentation project in collaboration with knowledgeable Elders.
New courses have been developed in the following areas, to be offered
throughout the state each year by distance education, along with
other courses that will be available to meet degree requirements:
CCS 601, Documenting Indigenous Knowledge
The course will provide students with a thorough
grounding in the research methodologies and issues associated with
documenting and conveying the depth and breadth of indigenous knowledge
systems and their epistemological structures. Included will be
a survey of oral and literate data-gathering techniques, a review
of various modes of analysis and presentation, and practical experience
in a real-life setting.
CCS 602, Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights
The course will examine issues associated with recognizing
and respecting the cultural and intellectual property rights associated
with the documentation, publication and display of knowledge, practices,
beliefs and artifacts associated with particular cultural traditions.
Appropriate research principles, ethical guidelines and legal protections
will be reviewed for their application to cross-cultural studies.
CCS 608, Indigenous Knowledge Systems
The course will provide students with a comparative
survey and analysis of the epistemological properties, world views
and modes of transmission associated with various indigenous knowledge
systems, with an emphasis on those practiced in Alaska.
CCS 612, Traditional Ecological Knowledge
The course will examine the acquisition and utilization
of knowledge associated with the long-term inhabitation of particular
ecological systems and the adaptations that arise from the accumulation
of such knowledge. Attention will be given to the contemporary
significance of traditional ecological knowledge as a complement
to academic disciplinary fields of study.
Applicants should have at least two years of
experience related to the area of applied study.
Applicants should have a bachelor's degree in
an approved area of study as determined by the faculty's admissions
committee. The committee may recommend provisional admittance
subject to completion of specified requirements.
Admission will be contingent upon:
A minimum GPA of 3.00 in previous undergraduate
- or -
Acceptable scores on the Graduate Record Examination general test.
Submission of graduate application, transcripts
of previous work, three letters of reference and a three-page
statement of intent.
A satisfactory review conducted by an admissions
committee composed of faculty from the Center for Cross-Cultural
Studies and Department of Alaska Native Studies (may include
a personal interview by the committee.)
For further information about the M.A. in Cross-Cultural
Studies, contact the Center for Cross-Cultural Studies (907-474-1902),
the Department of Alaska Native Studies (907-474-7181) or go to
the CXCS web site at http://www.uaf.edu/cxcs.
Dixie Masak Dayo (Alaska) gave a presentation at the
ACC titled "How Do We Heal?" featuring her story
dress. The dress is about values and is a tribute to the Alaska
Natives and her father who taught her a traditional education.
Our Clothing, Our Culture, Our Identity
Keynote Address to the Arctic Clothing Conference,
British Museum, London, England, March, 2001
by Veronica Dewar, President, Pauktuutit Inuit
I would like to begin by thanking the organizers
of this conference for giving me the opportunity to address you
today. I would also like to acknowledge the many other Inuit women
from Canada who are here with us. I am often the only Inuk at gatherings
like this, so I would like to thank the British Museum for ensuring
there was not only token representation of Inuit from Canada.
Pauktuutit is the national organization that represents
all Inuit women in Canada. There are approximately 60,000 Inuit
in Canada who live primarily in the six Arctic regions: the Western
Arctic, Kitikmeot, Kivalliq, Qikiqtaaluk, Nunavik and the north
coast of Labrador.
Pauktuutit was incorporated in 1984 to address a
range of social and health issues that were not being addressed
by other Inuit organizations in Canada. At that time, we were deep
in negotiations of land claim settlements and other matters of
national significance to Inuit.
Our work has focused on the priorities of women,
which have tended to relate to ending violence in our communities
and restoring Inuit ownership and control of our culture, our wisdom
and our futures.
As the national representative of Inuit women in
Canada, Pauktuutit regularly addresses issues related to traditional
knowledge. As an example, Pauktuutit completed a major project
on traditional child birthing and midwifery involving over 75 interviews
of Inuit women and midwives describing over 500 births. Key objectives
were to document and preserve this knowledge and to introduce it
to the modern medical profession.
I would like to share some personal experiences and
perspectives on the importance of our clothing and designs to us
as Inuit. I will then tell you about some of our recent activities,
both within Canada and internationally, and what we hope to accomplish
in terms of protecting our traditional knowledge and intellectual
property as it relates to the amauti.
The personal comments I am about to share with you
first appeared in the Ottawa Citizen, a local daily paper
in Ottawa, Ontario where I now live.
When I was growing up in Coral Harbour, Southampton
Island, traditional Inuit design was a natural part of my life;
these were everyday garments. My mother had 13 children and she
couldn't leave them to fend for themselves; she had to use the amauti to
carry them. The amauti was always around. I even had one
as a little girl to carry puppies in. The amauti has existed
and been passed down from generation to generation.
We couldn't afford to buy expensive clothes. The
government social assistance we received was not enough. But my
mother made caribou clothing for my father and brother. She made
things from sealskin, use fox and wolf fur to protect the face
from the elements and made mitts out of rabbit skin. Everything
was made from skins from our surroundings. In a harsh, cold environment
we needed these superb garments for survival.
I remember looking through Sears' and Eaton's catalogues
when I was about eight or nine back in the '50s. I really liked
the big full skirts and the fur muffs. We wanted to buy the things
we saw, but there was no way of making money to get them. In Coral
Harbour, the priests would get boxes of secondhand clothes and
we would look through them. We found sweaters and skirts and warm
clothing, but nothing as nice as what we saw in the catalogues.
My sister used to make me skirts. I remember a dress my sister
made me with a big, full skirt and it used to swing around when
When you are exposed to another culture, you get
interested in new things. I went to school in Churchill, Manitoba
and then in Ottawa. And I traveled overseas and was exposed to
other cultures. I went back home at the beginning of the '70s and
started working for land claims organizations as an interpreter.
I started to question what I was doing. "Why am I not doing more
to help my people?" I asked myself. "Do they understand their rights
and what opportunities they have?"
I got involved in local politics and I traveled around
the North to different regions. I dressed mainly in Western clothes,
but when I went back home, all my sisters sewed well and they would
make me many traditional garments. I began to see the beauty in
them: They were appropriate, warm and well designed, but beyond
that they were part of our identity. In fact, they are really in
demand now. More and more Inuit are wearing traditional clothes.
Even some white people who move up North wear them now too.
Also, you have to have a good salary to buy Western-style
material, so sometimes it's easier to use caribou skins. You can
wear them as reversible garments-one way with fur outside and one
way with the fur inside.
I think what some non-Inuit fashion designers have
been doing with our designs is disrespectful. If they would see
how they are really used up North, I believe they would think twice
about how they're appropriating the designs. I've seen some non-Inuit
try to sell their own version of Inuit design but it's often a
distortion. For instance, a non-Inuit woman designed an amauti and
normally the front is shorter than the back, which is longer and
gives you room to move and keeps your legs warm from the back.
But this lady made the back very short and started to wear it herself;
she was selling them as authentic Inuit designs, but they weren't.
When the Inuit women saw that, they said, "Why can't we stop that?
It's misrepresentation and it distorts the very nature of it." It's
sad, I think, because the garments-all pieces of the amauti,
for example-have a meaning to them. The design is complicated.
Every piece has a name; each section has a name and a purpose to
it. For instance, with the amauti you can carry the baby
in the back or if you want to breastfeed, you put your arms inside
and you can roll the amauti backward to take the baby inside.
If you distort that design, it becomes meaningless because you
can't actually do any of those things. That is what it's all about.
It would be best if designers consulted with us instead
of just stealing our designs and patterns. We want recognition
that these are our designs and we want to know what they are doing
with them. It's part of a general recognition of Inuit culture
and a way to increase awareness of our culture.
We recently had the experience of a representative
of Donna Karan, a major New York fashion designer, who came to
the Western Arctic in Canada and was buying older Inuit garments.
In some cases, she bought jackets off people's backs and went into
people's homes specifically looking for older designs. She did
not consult with Inuit on the purpose of her visit, nor did she
tell people what she planned to do with the garments back in the
Pauktuutit learned of her visit when a journalist
from Yellowknife called us to inquire whether we were aware of
this situation. We were not, but were certainly concerned. Once
we had an opportunity to learn more about the purpose of her trip
to the Western Arctic-which is a very long trip from New York City-and
her activities in our communities, we felt we had no choice but
to intervene. We were very concerned that Inuit were being exploited
because she took advantage of some of the less educated people
there who did not know their rights. We wrote directly to Ms. Karan,
outlining our concerns and the reasons for them as well as explaining
our efforts to develop a legal mechanism that would recognize and
protect the collective nature of Inuit ownership of our designs
and other cultural symbols and property. We had hoped to get a
dialogue going, but unfortunately, we have not received a formal
response. We did learn that in response to calls primarily from
Canadian journalists, Ms. Karan's media people stated clearly that
it was not her intention to appropriate Inuit designs by including
them in her lines. It was then that we learned that the garments
that were purchased in the Western Arctic were on display in Ms.
Karan's boutique in New York City, along with designs from other
cultures around the world.
I can only wonder if the people who sold their garments
were informed of this and whether they would agree. We are no longer
willing to be treated like artifacts in museums, and that includes
our living culture that is embodied in our clothing and other symbols
of Inuit culture such as the inukshuk, ulu and so
I also have to wonder what the purpose of such a
display is and how it relates to the business of a New York fashion
designer. Who benefits? Unfortunately, I know that, in this case,
Inuit have received no benefit, but beyond that may have been exposed
to a grave risk of appropriation and exploitation of our traditional
and contemporary culture and identity.
This brings me to the major focus of my presentation.
Currently, our designs are not protected legally. Existing legal
protections such as copyright, trademark and industrial property
do not recognize and protect the collective nature of Inuit ownership
of our designs, including the amauti. These are legal mechanisms
that were designed to protect the property of individuals within
a Western legal system.
The Arctic adaptation of Inuit has inspired some
remarkable innovations and technologies. The modern world, however,
has appropriated many elements of Inuit material culture without
due recognition or compensation for the original creators. The
parka and qajaq are obvious examples. The traditional boot,
the kamiik, is now a trademark brand of outdoor footwear
made by Genfoot. The "history" of the company makes no reference
to Inuit even though they use an inukshuk as a logo. This
exploitation of traditional knowledge, and the intellectual property
that it encompasses, is not unusual among indigenous peoples around
the world. It is now critical that we develop the tools and skills
to protect our heritage and ensure that we benefit from any use
of our traditional knowledge and cultural and intellectual property.
The introduction of the wage economy is relatively
recent in the North and the rhythm of life for many communities
still revolves around traditional harvesting activities. There
are many opportunities in the fashion and clothing industry and
many Inuit women are very interested in business and employment
opportunities related to Inuit clothing. But pro-active methods
must be taken immediately to demonstrate and protect the links
between traditional culture, modern commercial applications, traditional
harvesting and utilization of resources and financial self-sufficiency.
Wage labour and the market economy has introduced the alien concepts
of privatization and commercialization to communally-owned property.
The issue of prior informed consent for the ethical use of this
property becomes critical. Indigenous people have the right to
own and control their cultural heritage and utilize environmental
resources in a holistic and sustainable manner. It is important
that the participation of Inuit women in the modern economy be
actively promoted and protected.
For several years Pauktuutit has promoted traditional
Inuit clothing designs and artistry. In 1995 Inuit fashion and
clothing was showcased at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in
Ottawa during the Winterlude festival and at the Toronto CNE. Southern
consumers expressed great interest in the clothing and accessories
at these two events. An economic development project entitled "The
Road to Independence" has recently been completed. The objective
was to assist Inuit women to take advantage of opportunities in
the fashion and clothing industry by developing skills related
to the design and production of traditional and contemporary garments
intended for sale to southern consumers. The idea was to return
ownership and benefits of the production of these garments to Inuit
by cultivating an appreciation for hand-crafted Inuit clothing.
This can provide viable economic opportunities and financial independence
for women that do not undermine the cultural integrity of Inuit
communities. The project promoted employment through practical
applications of traditional knowledge and skills as well as training
to compete in retail markets that extend beyond their communities.
Underlying principles included the transfer of skills to younger
women by the Elders, community development and ownership and control
of the benefits. The success of the project, however, can have
a negative impact. Without clarification of the intellectual property
rights involved, the amauti may go the way of the qajaq, parka and kamiik.
Pauktuutit has been an active member of the Executive
Committee and the Aboriginal Caucus of the open-ended working group
on the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity
in Canada. The Convention on Biological Diversity, and specifically
Article 8(j) of the convention, offer an opportunity for indigenous
peoples to better exercise their rights to control, manage and
share the benefits derived from the ideas and innovations they
have developed. Article 8(j) of the Convention calls for contracting
. . . Respect, preserve and maintain
the knowledge and innovations of indigenous peoples that are
relevant to the conservation and sustainable use of biological
diversity; promote the wider application of such knowledge,
innovations and practices with the approval and involvement
of the holders of such knowledge and encourage the equitable
sharing of the benefits arising from the use of such knowledge,
innovations and practices. The convention will therefore serve
as the cornerstone for Pauktuutit's work to protect the amauti.
In that regard, we have recently achieved some success
in obtaining funding to hold the first consultation with Inuit
in Canada on how we wish to protect our cultural and intellectual
property. We wish to consult with Inuit experts on the nature of
collectively-owned property, and to explore the concept of the
appropriate custodian for such a protection on behalf of all Inuit.
Other questions we wish to discuss and obtain direction on include
access and benefit sharing by individuals while respecting the
collective ownership of cultural and intellectual property. I know
personally of some Inuit designers who are currently struggling
with the question of what their rights may be as an individual
to personally benefit from the property and designs of all Inuit
and our ancestors.
Other questions we have identified and will be seeking
answers for during the course of our project include:
What are the obligations of an individual who
may benefit financially from using their own cultural and traditional
knowledge as an Inuk, to their community and broader Inuit
Do Inuit currently have an informal customary
intellectual property system in place?
If so, what is the nature of the customary laws that relate to traditional
knowledge and intellectual property and its appropriate use?
How does it relate to protecting the amauti as
the collective cultural and intellectual property of all Inuit
women in Canada?
Are there traditional rules about access and
benefit sharing that can be applied in this contemporary context?
As a result of our work over many years, we have
been recognized as international experts by the World Intellectual
Property Organization, which is beginning to address issues related
to indigenous traditional knowledge and intellectual property rights.
We participated in their second round table on the subject in 1999
and our work to protect the amauti is being looked at by
indigenous peoples internationally as a precedent-setting project
and is viewed as cutting-edge indigenous IPR work.
Pauktuutit has also worked in association with the
Indigenous Women of the Americas to develop a better understanding
of the issues associated with craft commercialization and intellectual
The Indigenous Women of the Americas is an association
of like-minded indigenous women from throughout Latin and South
America who come together when we can to address issues of mutual
concern. In our early discussions with our colleagues in the Americas,
we thought that issues of violence and personal and economic security
would emerge as priorities for action. Instead, craft commercialization
and the need to protect our traditional knowledge and intellectual
property rights emerged as the first priority for indigenous women
in the Western Hemisphere.
As we began our work, we conducted a survey in 1997
among Aboriginal women in Canada to determine Canadian priorities
and concerns. More recently, Pauktuutit helped organize an international
training workshop on intellectual property rights and craft commercialization.
The workshop was held in late April 1999 near Ottawa and was attended
by indigenous women from throughout the Americas. The primary purpose
of the workshop was to help women attain a legal understanding
of the issues and to help them take economic control over commercialization
of art designs. This is another example of Pauktuutit's commitment
to promote the cultural heritage and economic conditions of women
and positions Pauktuutit as the appropriate manager of a case study
on the protection of traditional knowledge.
In the spirit of Article 8(j), Inuit need the incentive
to avoid an Arctic economy that exploits the environment. Our economy
should respect our heritage and allow us to continue to use our
traditional knowledge and resources in a sustainable manner. Protecting
the intellectual property of our traditional knowledge will help
achieve this end. Biological diversity can be conserved by conserving
cultural diversity. As I said earlier, much of Inuit community
life continues to revolve around traditional harvesting activities.
Harvesting rights are guaranteed under the Nunavut, Inuvialuit
and the James Bay and Northern Quebec agreements. An Inuit owned
and controlled clothing and fashion industry that hinges on traditional
knowledge, designs and motifs and the relationship to the harvesting
and processing of furs and skins provide a multifaceted link to
I would also like to take this opportunity to inform
you about events that are taking place even as I speak. In Ottawa,
Canada, there is currently a hemispheric indigenous leadership
summit. Indigenous traditional knowledge and intellectual property
rights are being addressed as a priority issue within the context
of globalization and the upcoming meeting in Canada of the Organization
of American States (OAS). Inuit in Canada are determined that our
rights must take precedence over hemispheric and international
trade agreements that could negatively impact on our aboriginal
rights. I understand delegates will be developing a resolution
on the issue that will be presented to the member states of the
OAS in April.
Pauktuutit has also been actively involved in events
leading to the World Conference Against Racism. We have been providing
advice to the Canadian government as a member of their Aboriginal
Advisory Committee and have also attended a recent intercessional
meeting in Geneva that began negotiating the text of the declaration
and plan of action that will be presented and discussed in Geneva.
Traditional knowledge and intellectual property rights are priority
issues for indigenous peoples around the world and it is no different
for Inuit in Canada.
Inuit have great things to offer the world. We are
known internationally as diplomats and negotiators and have successfully
negotiated three major land claim agreements in Canada. Inuit have
a unique quality of harmony and consensus-building based on trust
and mutual respect. We are more than willing to share these qualities
with the non-Inuit world, as we are willing to share our unique
culture with the world. But that relationship must be based on
respect that is mutual and one that recognizes that we are the
only owners of all the elements of our culture including our cultural
heritage, traditional knowledge and our intellectual property.
Thank you very much for your time.
Contaminants Have Found Us
by Angayuqaq Oscar Kawagley
As a young boy growing up in Bethel I experienced
heavy snows and cold temperatures in winter, but our summers were
times of fun and lots of hard work in the fish camps. We did not
worry about pollution as our lifestyles did not produce wastes
dangerous to ourselves or to the plants and animals around us.
Most of the things that we used were biodegradable or recyclable;
we lived in harmony with nature. Now we have been thrust into an
industrialized world with its extensive use of natural resources
to manufacture tools and other items that are supposed to make
life easier for us.
We, as indigenous people, were adapted to these climatic
conditions and so were the plants and animals we depended on for
food. Perhaps these special adaptations made us, the plants and
animals more susceptible to certain anthropogenic contaminants.
And now our own activities in using technological devices in our
everyday activities are contributing to the physical, chemical
and biological pollution of our Arctic ecosystems.
From what scientists have told us, you get the idea
that there are two sources of contaminants-sources far from the
Arctic and within the Arctic. The industrial complexes in Russia
and other Eurasian countries contribute to the Arctic contamination.
The main modes of transport for these contaminants are air currents,
ocean currents and riverine systems. The meltwater in the spring
carries the pollutants downriver to the deltas and into the oceans.
Another way of transporting contaminants is through the migratory
birds and mammals which winter in the warm climates and then migrate
north in the summer. These are often at the top of the food web
and are the most effected. But we, as a Native people, continue
to eat these nutritious foods as well as maintain breast feeding
for our young children. Because of contaminants contained in these
foods that we eat, we may very well have a higher exposure to and
accumulation of contaminant contents. Some of the major areas of
concern for the effects that these contaminants can have is "influencing
the ability to conceive and carry children, reducing our defense
against diseases, affecting children's mental development or increasing
the risk of cancer" (AMAP, 1997).
How do we as Alaska Native people and others begin
to alleviate the situation? As long as we believe that science
and technology is the answer to our problems, we will forever remain
in the morass of the modern world. Unless we encourage our youngsters
to go to the Elders and to pursue higher education to learn another
way of making sense of this world, we will never get out of this
trap. We must relearn our own Alaska Native languages and ways
of making sense of this world. We have a way of looking at the
universe that recognizes there are different perspectives-the outward
and the inward. By using both viewpoints we can gain wisdom.
The Eurocentric way of knowing tends to rely on the
physical and intellectual processes and pays less attention to
the emotions and the spiritual dimensions. We must find a way of
marrying the senses with the spiritual side for a more balanced
perspective. Our Native languages are of wholeness and healing.
They are languages of Native eco-philosophy, or "ecosophy". We
need to relearn how to live in harmony with nature. Our languages
describe these thought worlds, these worldviews. Our space-time
concepts are cyclical according to the moon phases, seasons and
the plant and animal cycles that determine the times of abundance
and times of scarcity. The location and timing of these cycles
give us scheduling and spacing tools. To relearn and revitalize
our Alaska Native languages and cultures is to liberate ourselves
from the industrial and materialistic prison into which we have
To relearn our mythology that Raven created Mother
Earth helps us realize that we cannot think of ourselves as being
superior to anything of Mother Earth. Raven is a deity in this
mythology but Raven can also be a buffoon, a comedian and a picaresque.
The reason we do not worship the raven is because we are animists,
We must relearn our history but not from history
books. We learn history particular to an individual, a family,
a community from the quliraat and from the mythology, galumcit,
stories, placenames, songs, dancing and drumming peculiar to that
place. All these will give you a strong sense of who you are and
where you are from. This beautiful concept of respect becomes clearer
to us as it is connected to a belief system with high moral attitudes,
rules and standards for personal character to become the best person
one is capable of being. All of this is needed to begin to rebuild
a new world based on what we learned from our ancestors, coupled
with selective adaptations from the contemporary world.
Here are a few suggestions that we can work on: Insist
on sustainable development-perhaps projects that require we work
closely with nature-regenerative or reclamation activities such
as cleaning up wetlands and fish-spawning areas. We must demand
that industries and manufacturers find ways to reduce the use of
natural resources, reduce packaging and pay attention to effluent
and emission laws. We must demand that manufacturers of such thing
as TVs, microwave ovens, snowmachines and other durable goods redeem
and recycle those items when they become inoperable-perhaps they
could establish a "lend-lease" program. We should begin to assess
what technological tools are acceptable in the village instead
of accepting whatever comes along. Let's become more biologically
literate, not just electronically literate; let us strive to live
I think that if we begin to pay attention to such
matters, we will begin to live life with a strong sense of belonging,
discipline, independence and generosity. After all, the ultimate
standard is to live a life that is healthy and stable in a healthy
and sustainable community.
Alaska Indigenous Peoples Academy
by Victoria Hildebrand, AIPA Project Director
Project Alaska Indigenous Peoples Academy (AIPA)
is near- ing the end of its first fiscal year in early June and
many objectives have been accomplished. The project's focus is
twofold. One is to develop Athabascan curriculum aligned with state
and cultural standards and the other is to train in-service teachers
new to the rural and urban schools of the Interior. To date, the
AIPA staff has been very busy working towards the project's goals.
Although the staff started working late into the grant, they have
met many objectives for the first year.
One of the activities has been to network with interested
staff and educational agencies. To date we have made new contacts
with the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Anchorage, Tanana Chiefs
Conference, the Alaska Native Knowledge Network, the First Alaskans
Foundation, the National Indian Education Association and the Native
Hawaiian Education Council just to name a few.
Another activity that turned out to be a success
included a summit that was held on January 15-17, 2001. The focus
of this summit was to discuss issues and concerns that are important
to Alaska Native education and to develop action plans for the
objectives in Project AIPA. The plans from this summit are now
The plans for the 2001 Alaska Indigenous Peoples'
Academy are underway and brochures for interested attendees will
be mailed out soon. Our curriculum specialist is very busy developing
the curriculum and we look forward to its future implementation.
In the coming fiscal year, Project AIPA will focus on teacher training
and continued curriculum development.
Elder Highlight: Tribute to Oscar Nictune Sr.
A memorial potlatch in honor of Oscar Nictune
Sr. was held at Allakaket on September 1-3, 2000. The following
tribute was prepared by Bob Maguire. Reprinted from Spirit of
our Ancestors, a publication of Denakkanaaga.
Oscar Nictune, Sr. was truly an extraordinary person-
someone I feel very privileged to have known. When I came to the
Koyukuk River country for the first time in the mid-1960s, Oscar
was one of the first people I met. I was immediately struck by
his intelligence, his openness to share his life experiences and
his ever-present sense of humor. Later in 1968 I married my wife
Cora-herself a granddaughter of Oscar Nictune Sr.-and I received
the honor of having a grandpa myself for the first time in my life.
During the following years it was my privilege to share many stories
and adventures with Grandpa Oscar.
Born in 1901 he was the last living person to have
experienced the gold rush era in the Koyukuk country at the beginning
of the last century. Most of us are left to only imagine this era
of steamboats, miners, pigs, horses and gold discoveries. There
are few signs of the towns such as Bergman, Arctic City, South
Fork and Peavey or of the 10,000 people who clamored over the countryside.
Oscar took in all this activity and was influenced directly by
it when he was recruited to attend school in Old Bettles in 1905
at the age of five. It was because of this experience that he received
his name Oscar. Having only his Eskimo name, Qayak, he was given
the name of the outside teacher's youngest brother!
Later, at the age of 12, he would haul loads of frozen
fish by dog team from Alatna to Bettles, Coldfoot, Wiseman and
the other creeks to sell to miners eager for fresh food supplies.
Soon thereafter he was employed as a cabinboy and deckhand on the
steam-powered paddlewheelers that plied the waters of Interior
Later in life he married Grandma Cora-the daughter
of Duvak and Dinook-and together they had nine children. Then the
most tragic event of his life happened when his wife died during
childbirth while delivering twins. Grandpa must have loved his
wife Cora immensely for he never remarried saying that "when my
love died, loving died too." I think that he felt he could never
find another person like his love, Cora, so he chose to raise his
family alone. He lived the next 56 years as a widower!
Sheep hunting was his favorite passion, especially
in his later years. He learned to hunt sheep at an early age with
his father Peter Nictune and others like Duvak, Nuylayek and Johnny
Oldman. He loved the upper Alatna River country and the many creeks
that run into it-creeks with names like Milchetah, Nahduk, Pingaluk,
Gaduk and Unakserak. He had many stories of sheep hunts in the
earlier times when there weren't other big animals such as moose
in the country. Most of us who are privileged to travel there today
still refer to it as "Grandpa Oscar's country." His greatest pleasure
in his later years was still being able to accompany the younger
grandsons to such places as Unakserak River and be the camp boss.
When I had my airplane in Allakaket in the mid-1970s,
Grandpa Oscar and I took many trips together. He was the boss of
that too and would often come across to Allakaket and announce
to me, "Today we are going to Wiseman!" or wherever. He loved to
visit his sister Florence Jonas in Wiseman. Sometimes he would
stand back around the corner of her house and let me knock on her
door, so he could surprise her.
Perhaps my favorite memory of him was a trip up the
North Fork of the Koyukuk. I asked him why he wanted to go up the
North Fork and he said, "Well there's some country I haven't seen!" So
after several days of camping I gathered up our trash in a plastic
bag and put it in the plane. When I got everything else packed
up I looked for Grandpa and he was way out on the gravel bar sticking
tin cans and other items from our trash bag on the willows. I walked
out onto the bar and asked him, "Grandpa what are you doing?" He
replied, "This is so if any of those other people come up this
way, they'll know Oscar was here first!"
When he passed away in 1998 at the age of 97 he left
behind a legacy of being a kind and generous man-one who cared
for people. He left behind a family that he raised and supported
to carry on his philosophy of always helping others, doing everything
in the best fashion possible and of always seeing the positive
side of life.
Eskimo Heritage Program: Kawerak Board Report,
by Branson Tungiyan, Program Director
Much has been happening at the Eskimo Heritage Program
since the beginning of the New Year. Topping off the list is the
new memorandum of agreement that was signed between Kawerak, Inc.
and the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) on December 1, 2000
by Julie Kitka of AFN and Loretta Bullard of Kawerak. This MOA
is to implement Phase II of the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative
Both Kawerak, Inc. and AFN agree to "collaborate
for the purposes of implementing the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative" funded
by the National Science Foundation. Through this agreement, AFN
and Kawerak, Inc. affirm their commitment to work together on behalf
of improving the quality of education in Alaska. In furtherance
of this commitment, Kawerak, Inc. agrees to perform the following
tasks between November 1, 2000 and February 28, 2002:
Focusing on the Iñupiaq Region, Kawerak,
Inc. will participate in the Consortium for Alaska Native Higher
Education (CANHE) to pursue the continued development of a
tribal college system in Alaska.
Kawerak, Inc. will continue to develop the institutional
infrastructure for the Iñupiaq region that will serve
as the basis for establishing a tribal college with the capacity
to address the educational needs and cultural well being of
the Native people in the region.
I have been selected, through the Eskimo Heritage
Program, to be the regional coordinator for the Iñupiaq
region. This is going to be very challenging because it requires
overseeing many different initiatives in our region. Some of the
specific responsibilities include:
Encourage collaboration of educational partnerships
on a regional and statewide basis, including support and assistance
for the regional tribal college initiative.
Coordinate and organize at least one regional
Elders' council meeting each year.
Coordinate activities of memoranda-of-agreement
partners both for regional and local village/school initiatives.
Travel to and/or meet personally with MOA partners
at least two times annually in partner's location.
Additional and training workshops on AKRSI resources
Identify, research and complete individual cultural
Participate in statewide activities relative
to promotion and development of AKRSI initiatives as a representative
of the specific cultural region.
Another important thing that happened was that we
had a retreat for the Eskimo Heritage Program on January 4, 2001.
The purpose of the retreat was to review and assess where the program
is on its long-range plan, what the accomplishments have been,
set goals, establish a plan of action and determine who will be
responsible in making sure the goals are achieved. We went through
EHP office still in existence.
Supplemental funds from AKRSI to move forward
Iñupiaq (except for King Island and St.
Lawrence Island) and Yup'ik collection digitized.
92% of individual Elder interview audio tapes
Hosting of successful Elders conferences.
Development of K-3 and 4-6 readers.
Through the EHP, Elder advisory committees started
at the village level.
Trends Affecting the EHP Program
Acknowledgment nationwide by Native Americans.
More funds available (both government and private).
"Professionals" put credibility on Native cultural
Revival of Native dancing and singing in the
Roles of Elders in the community disappearing.
The next step in the process is to identify what
challenges (gaps) exist in accomplishing the mission statement
of the EHP Program and what needs to be done in order to overcome
those challenges. We turned the challenges into two-year goals
and what needs to be done into the action plan. From there, we
established who would be responsible in making sure the goals are
I have also been working with the Kawerak Elders
Advisory Committee (KEAC). One of the activities of the KEAC is
attending the Bering Sea Coalition Conference in Anchorage with
the Council of Elders. Clarence Irrigoo and Charles Saccheus, Sr.
of Elim had attended the last two conferences held in Anchorage.
The KEAC decided that the same two individuals should attend the
conference and be the representatives from the Bering Strait region
for the next two years. Two different Elders can be selected for
the following two years, and so forth. Jacob Ahwinona and Anders
Apassingok attended the first Bering Sea Coalition conference.
I have been attending a series of meetings and conferences
since becoming involved with AKRSI. The first one-week trip was
to meet with the AKRSI staff and attend the Association of Interior
Natives Education Summit with the Athabascan educators. This trip
was very beneficial as it gave me a better picture of my role as
the Iñupiaq regional coordinator for AKRSI. I will be working
closely with our MOA partners: Nome Public Schools, Bering Strait
School District, Northwest Arctic Borough School District and North
Slope Borough School District.
The second one-week trip was to attend a meeting
in Anchorage with representatives from the Pueblo and Navajo tribes
of New Mexico and Lumbee of North Carolina in connection with the
Rural Schools & Community Trust project. Alaska is currently
one of the states that have Native groups in the project. This
meeting was concurrent with the Native Educator's Conference (NEC)
and the Bilingual Multicultural Education & Equity Conference
(BMEEC). The Native educators adopted two new sets of guidelines: Guidelines
for Nurturing Culturally-Healthy Youth and Guidelines for
Strengthening Indigenous Languages.
The purpose of these guidelines is to offer assistance
to educational personnel and others who are seeking to incorporate
the Alaska Standards for Culturally-Responsive Schools in
their work. Using these guidelines will expand the knowledge base
and range of insights and expertise available to help schools and
communities nurture and pass on their cultural heritage with respect
A highlight of the Eskimo Heritage Program has been
in regards to establishing the Eskimo Cultural Center as one of
the priorities. It has gathered enough support that it is being
presented in the state/federal issues packet. This is something
that has been identified as a need for the Bering Strait region.
With the long cultural histories in the Bering Strait region, there
is no place for the representation of the strong cultural heritage
we have as Native groups. We definitely need to have a cultural
center to put on display the region's wealth of cultural heritage.
All in all, I feel that the program is heading in
the right direction, with goals set in place. It makes me feel
more comfortable to have goals to follow with an agenda. There
are other activities happening on a daily basis. An interesting
trip is coming up in early May where I will be following the Unalakleet
group to Washington, D.C. They are going there to review objects
at the Smithsonian Institution and the American Museum of Natural
History. There are 90 objects in all at the two places from the
Norton Sound region. I have been invited to attend as an observer,
with the opportunity to bring a contingent from Nome and the surrounding
villages at a later date.
The Kawerak Elders Advisory Committee will also be
inviting Dan Karmun, Sr. to their next meeting to explain about
the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority's upcoming trip to Nome
and onto the villages in the region. A group of 30-plus people
will come up from Anchorage and travel to six villages to conduct
meetings and return the next day and assess their village trips.
Norton Sound Health Corporation is assisting the group with their
studies of the villages' social problems.
I will be contacting the village Elders' advisory
committees to get input and suggestions in regards to AKRSI. Phase
II of AKRSI will concentrate on initiatives that were successful
in Phase I and develop them at a higher level. There are five sets
of initiatives being rotated in the five cultural regions. Each
region will have an opportunity to implement each initiative. These
Elders & Cultural Camps-Academy of Elders
Indigenous Science Knowledge Base-Cultural Atlas
Culturally Aligned Curriculum-Cultural Standards
Native Ways of Knowing/Teaching-Parent Involvement
Village Science Applications-AISES/ANSES Camps
The Alaska Federation of Natives will continue as
a sponsor of the project. We look forward to working with the communities
and Elders to help continue its success.
The Academy of Elders/Science Camp 2001
by Teri Schneider
Once again, students, teachers and other commu- nity
members in our region have an opportunity to engage in learning
activities that are culturally and environmentally relevant with
Elders and other culture bearers at the remote camp setting of
Dig Afognak. This is a fantastic, academically challenging and
culturally enriching experience for students, teachers, community
members and Elders. The Kodiak Island Borough School District,
the Kodiak Island Housing Authority and the Native Village of Afognak
are pleased to sponsor this opportunity during two week-long camps.
Camp #1 will be held from July 23-July 29, and Camp
#2 begins July 30 and ends on August 5. Both camps are being held
at the Dig Afognak site at Katenai, Afognak Island. Transportation,
food, facilities and staffing costs are being paid for by the three
sponsoring organizations. Those who are able are asked to pay a
$30 registration fee. Participants unable to pay will not be denied.
This camp is open to all students currently living
in the Kodiak area, grades 2-12 (young students may be considered
if they are successful applicants and are accompanied by a participating
adult family member.) Participants should have an interest in Alutiiq
Native culture, language and ways of knowing and perhaps science,
math, and/or technology. Also invited are local indigenous Elders,
educators of the Kodiak Island Borough School District, members
of the Native Educators of the Alutiiq region and other interested
community members as space allows.
This camp began in the summer of 1997 to orient new
teachers to the region before they began teaching in the Kodiak
schools. The Elders attending that summer said that we should bring
students to such a camp, along with teachers, so that all could
learn together. The camp acknowledges the Alutiiq Elders as the
first teachers of their culture and allows participants to learn
firsthand from Elders and community members with hands-on projects
related to rural survival, lifestyles and Native ingenuity. While
learning more about the rich history of our island communities
and exploring the culture of the Alutiiq people, past and present,
we are able to orient new teachers to the cultural and environmental
uniqueness of our island community. In bringing together Elders,
teachers and students outside of the formal school setting we are
giving participants the opportunity to live with and learn from
people of another culture.
Because this camp is academically oriented, we are
hoping to stimulate interest in math, science and engineering fields
among Alaska Native students. These are fields of study and work
that have seen very little representation from within the Native
community. We would like to increase students' confidence and knowledge
in math, science and technology while incorporating Native values
and perspectives with Western math, science and technology. The
Academy of Elders/Science Camp has provided an opportunity to very
naturally integrate academic learning with cultural enrichment.
If you or someone you know is interested in attending,
you may contact Teri Schneider at 486-9276, email firstname.lastname@example.org or
Olga Pestrikoff at 486-6357, email email@example.com.
Native Hawaiian Education Association Convention
by Esther Ilutsik
We began our exposure to Native Hawaiian education
on March 29 with an invitation to observe the Native Hawaiian Education
Association Board of Directors as they convened their meeting prior
to their annual convention 2001 that would take place the next
morning. They honored us with a greeting of leis. This followed
with introductions, the Alaska delegation consisting of Lolly Carpluk,
Velma Schafer, Virginia Ned, Joy Simon and myself, Esther Ilutsik.
We were impressed with the education level and professionalism
of the Native Hawaiian board of directors. We were not able to
stay for the entire meeting as Lolly, Virginia and I had a scheduled
audioconference, but we did join them for their luncheon and were
invited to the banquet that evening. At the time the invitation
was extended we did not know exactly what the banquet would entail
and, as with many indigenous peoples of the world, we did not question
what to expect.
Much to our surprise and delight the banquet was
the Tenth Celebration of Ke Kukui Malamalama, Honoring Excellence
in Hawaiian Education, sponsored by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs
Board. "This celebration began in 1991 as a tribute to individuals,
programs and groups who have furthered Native Hawaiians in achieving
their educational aspirations. KeKukui Malamalama not only recognizes
the academic achievements of Hawaiians in all fields of endeavors,
but also applauds the incorporation of Native Hawaiian values,
traditions and practices into the holistic education of our people.
Ke Kukui Malamalama is a tribute to all those who make us, who
encourage us, who teach us, who lead us to be the people we are
and the people we can be" (taken from the Ke Kukui Malamalama Honoring
Excellence in Hawaiian Education Program brochure, March 29, 2001.)
The celebration began with the audience singing a
beautiful Hawaiian song. Their voices were strong, pure, melodic
and beautiful and it was apparent that the music reunited them
with their Hawaiian beliefs and goals. We were again honored with
leis and introduced to the audience (even my daughter, Michelle
Snyder, was recognized and it tickled her that she was introduced
as an educator and not as an eighth-grade student.) Following the
buffet dinner we were honored to witness the achievements of four
exceptional educators. They began with the Kapuna (Elder) educator,
Wright Bowman, Sr., who is a master woodcarver and is retired from
Kamehameha School; Pihana Na Mamo, a project coordinator in special
education, DOE; Maggie Keola Hanohano, coordinator, Kako'o program
and Kulia I Ka Nu'u program, Kailua High School, DOE; JoAnn Kaakua,
community educator; and Moses Kim, Jr., retired teacher.
On stage were four cloth-covered chairs (signifying
honor status) and this part of the ceremony was co-chaired by two
Kapunas (Elders). Kapuna Betty K. Jenkins and Kapuna Nalehua Knox
began by giving some background information about these recognitions
and recognizing past recipients, including Keiki Kawai'ae'a (she
was one of the Native Hawaiian presenters at our 2001 Native Education
Conference held in Anchorage.)
The Kapunas took turns calling the distinguished
educators on to the stage. As each of the honorees came forth they
were greeted by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees
with leis and other gifts and then escorted to the chairs. When
they were seated, the co-chairs took turns in sharing the honorees'
accomplishments. It was obvious that it was an uncomfortable but
honored situation for those being recognized. Following the acknowledgments,
each of the honorees were given a chance to thank those who had
given them this honor and recognition.
I was especially taken with JoAnn Kaahuas' talk when
she referenced Queen Liliuokalani who once said, "The way to lose
an earthly kingdom is to be too inflexible, intolerant and prejudicial.
Another way is to be too flexible, tolerant of too many ways and
without judgment at all. It is a razor's edge-it is the width of
a blade of pili grass." She used this quote in reference to their
own 'opio (group) wanting structure and challenge and she shared
an interesting personal physical challenge that she herself undertook
during an excursion to Molokai as they hiked into Halawa Valley
to Moa'ula falls. Queen Liliuokalani's quote made me realize that
each of us have to look at our own cultural group and examine what
has happened that we continue to "fight" for our self-identity-why
has it been such a struggle? How can we strike the proper balance
to sustain who we are in an ever-changing world? The evening came
to a close with all participants holding hands and again a Hawaiian
song was sung. Thus ended our evening leaving us with lasting impressions
of indigenous people once again making the marks of their people.
The next morning we were picked up and brought to
the Native Hawaiian Education Association Convention held at the
Kapi'olani Community College. As we registered, we were again honored
with leis and were recognized at the general session. The theme
of the conference was "KUPU A'E," which translates to "sprout forth" and
is likened to growing things-it never ends. Last year's conference
theme was "spring forth." Following the welcome and other formalities
we listened to the keynote address by Dr. Manulani Aluli Meyer.
According to the information found in the conference packet she
was raised in Mokapu and Kailua on the island of O'ahu. Dr. Meyer
has taught and coached for more than 20 years in alternative programs,
from wilderness schools and Special Olympics to college-level athletic
programs. She earned her doctorate from Harvard University with
a focus on Hawaiian epistemology. She is dedicated to expanding
the world's understanding of culture and philosophy and the way
systems of knowledge and power work to impact what is constant
in nature. She has written more than 15 articles on the subject
and currently teaches in the Education Department at the University
of Hawai'I-Hilo. The title of her address was "Ho'oulu'Ana-"The
Time We Are In." Her message was dynamite! She enthralled the crowd
with her knowledge and insight and emphasized "know where you are
from so that you will know where you are going" and "our language
teaches us who we are." She left us re-energized and in good spirits.
Manu's presentation was followed with workshop sessions.
Michelle and I participated in an I Wili'la session presented by
Uilani Pualoa. This workshop focused on methods in which to determine
personality strengths and limitations. Knowing the strengths and
limitations of the people you work with will help in building a
stronger collective group. We engaged ourselves in a little exercise
by answering a series of questions. Each response was represented
by a lower case alphabet letter which when totaled up would equal
a certain type of personality strength. I was surprised at the
accuracy of this little exercise (Michelle found this workshop
delightful and began to point out different personality traits
using the color code.) I was attracted to this session thinking
it would identify Native Hawaiian colors and that I might compare
them with the three main Yup'ik colors found on our clothing. It
turned out that was not the purpose of the workshop, though it
was quite interesting anyway.
Following the lunch break we again assembled in the
tent for the afternoon's keynote presentation by Carole Ann Heart,
president of the National Indian Education Association. She spoke
from the heart and experience. She emphasized that we need to teach
our children their history from our own perspective. She shared
a personal experience. When her daughter was a young girl she would
drive her past Custer's house and she always told her that he was
a bad man. Later when she started school she came home one day
with a disturbed look. She asked her what was wrong and she told
her mother that the school took a field trip to Custer's house
and that he was a good man. She hugged her and proceeded to explain
that there are people who believe he was a good man, but because
of what he did to their people, he was not a good man to them,
thus emphasizing her point that our history needs to be told from
She continued by indicating that history may have
been different if Native people hadn't embraced and helped the
foreigners who first came to our lands, suggesting that perhaps
we should have had a stronger immigration policy (applause from
the audience.) She then closed with a story of how outsiders like
to study indigenous people. She shared a study by a German anthropologist
who, after much observation, noted carefully in his notebook that
the Native American women always walked behind their men. He concluded
that the Native American women were inferior to the Native American
men, but what he didn't know was that the women always made sure
that the men kept two paces ahead-as a way to keep them in line.
The keynote address was followed with workshop sessions.
Lolly, Virginia and I presented our workshop titled "Indigenous
Knowledge Documentation and Research Issues." We began our presentation
with a traditional Yup'ik entrance song and dance (including Michelle).
Our session was well received and ended with our group receiving
a blessing and encouragement from Kapuna Edward Kaanana. He emphasized
that we need to go forth and document correct information about
our people-that accurate information needs to be published by our
own people from our own perspective.
Following the workshop there was an informal reception.
It was fun to watch the Native Hawaiian educators at ease. Someone
had brought a ukulele so they were singing and hula dancing (both
sexes appeared to be in competitive sport.) It was fun to watch
the sport in such a natural and fun-loving setting. This followed
with the literary performance by OIWI: A Native Hawaiian Journal.
I was so impressed with the readings. There were five to six assigned
readings. They read their own work and works of other people. Some
of the readings included indigenous musical instrument accompaniments.
We were totally awestruck with the performance and the depth of
feelings that accompanied many of the readings. Absolutely beautiful!
The following morning the meetings began with a guest
speaker, Makia Malo, who despite his lack of sight had been able
to contribute to the education of the Indigenous Hawaiian children.
He emphasized the importance of the word of mouth and the stories,
and that educators need to be educated in the traditional methods
of storytelling. The goal of educators is to excite the minds of
the Hawaiian children. I was impressed with his goals and vision.
This was followed with a keynote address by Dr. Jon
Kamakawiwo'ole Osorio. According to the information in the conference
guide he was born on the Big Island and spent most of his adult
life as a resident of Honolulu. He is a Native Hawaiian with a
wide range of interests and talents, including being a musician,
author and scholar. He has a Ph.D. in history from the University
of Hawaii-Manoa, and has made significant scholarly contributions
towards advancing Hawaiian initiatives in education, leadership,
music and publications. Dr. Osorio currently serves as an assistant
professor at the Center for Hawaiian Studies, University of Hawaii-Manoa.
His keynote address, titled "Speaking from the Piko," focused on
the limitations of American education and how Native Hawaiians
had much to offer to the education of their own people. He focused
in on the "Piko," which I understood to be the spirituality of
the Native Hawaiians and how this understanding and connectedness
could provide the foundation that educators could work from. He
encouraged us to look at what was being taught in the schools and
especially to look at what is being taught about our culture. He
stated that indigenous people need a sense of mission and belonging,
and that the present school system is fragmented with specialized
disciplines. He felt that the American educational system has too
much of a focus on equality and separation of church and state.
In his own experience, they "schooled out" his spirituality. People
need that spirituality to be connected to the universe and to acknowledge
that there is a higher being than we are. He closed by encouraging
indigenous people to focus their attention on caring for our own
people and that we continue the struggle to find a place for ourselves.
He received a standing high status Native Hawaiian song (more respectful
than a standing ovation.)
This was followed with the last strand of workshops.
Michelle and I participated in "Ola Na Mo'olelo: Living Stories" by
Noelani Tachera, Chiya Hoapili, Miki'ala Ayau, Liko Hoe, Kanoe
Wilson and Desoto Brown (Bishop Museum Staff). It was an excellent
presentation on the tradition of living stories-using drama as
a way to bring Native Hawaiian stories to life. They shared the
story of Kalakaua. It was a very emotional time for some of the
Native Hawaiians in the audience. Many of them had never seen this
story unfold from a Native Hawaiian perspective. The emphasis at
the Bishop Museum is to use the Native Hawaiian perspective in
their materials and their live presentations. They shared A
Teacher's Guide to Exhibits and Programs which described live
presentations addressed to each grade level and standards that
teacher's could use in planning their field trip to the museum.
One of the activities that they shared was how adults and teachers
can create lessons using everyday materials. For example they had
a simple shell and questioned what kinds of traditional Hawaiian
information can be sought from this basic shell. Does it trigger
any stories or legends? What were the traditional uses and the
process used for gathering the shells? What are the present uses
and why have these remained the same or changed? I would have loved
to partake in this exercise to see how it might be applicable to
the work that I do.
The workshops were followed with lunch and then the
closing of the Native Hawaiian Education Association Conference
2001 with words from Dr. David Kekaulike Sing. People were invited
to go up to the microphone to make closing comments. Our Elder
delegate, Velma Schafer, expressed our thanks and honor for being
able to partake in such a beautiful and wonderful gathering. We
were so welcomed and felt like a part of this indigenous group
who share our values and goals. Aloha and quyana.
The conference was sponsored by many different organizations,
including the Native Hawaiian Higher Education Program, Kamehameha
Schools, Pacific Resources for Education and Learning, State of
Hawaii Department of Education, Native Hawaiian Education Council,
Native Hawaiian Community-Based Education Learning Centers, Queen
Lili'uokalani Children's Center, Kamehameha Schools, Alu Like,
Inc., Hawaiian Leadership Development Program, University of Hawaii,
Hilo, Office of Hawaiian Affairs and 'Aha Punana Leo.
by Andy Hope
In brotherly love let your feelings of deep affection
for one another come to expression and regard others as more
important than yourself.
Romans 12:10 The New Jerusalem Bible
Come on boys
It's all right
We know very well
There's a lot of bad
Come on men
It's all right
Come on guys
It's a fight
Let's go to work
| Come on men
Let's take care of the children
The wives and mothers
The sons and fathers
Don't be afraid
To learn respect and pride
| Know your ancestors
Keep the clan in mind
Come out boys
No need to hide
From that education
From that family
From your sisters
From your brothers
Keep the friendship
Keep the family
Keep the clan
Alaska RSI Contacts
University of Alaska Fairbanks
PO Box 756730
Fairbanks, AK 99775-6730
(907) 474-1902 phone
(907) 474-5208 fax
University of Alaska Fairbanks
PO Box 756730
Fairbanks, AK 99775-6730
(907) 474-5403 phone
(907) 474-5208 fax
Frank W. Hill
Alaska Federation of Natives
1577 C Street, Suite 300
Anchorage, AK 99501
(907) 274-3611 phone
(907) 276-7989 fax
Southeast Regional Coordinator
8128 Pinewood Drive
Juneau, Alaska 99801
Iñupiaq Regional Coordinator
PO Box 1796
Nome, AK 99762
Athabascan Regional Coordinator
PO Box 410
Ester, Alaska 99725
Aleutians Regional Coordinator
Kodiak Island Borough School District
722 Mill Bay Road, North Star
Kodiak, Alaska 99615
Yupik Regional Coordinator
PO Box 219
Bethel, AK 99559
Sharing Our Pathways is a publication
of the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative, funded by the National
Science Foundation Division of Educational Systemic Reform in
agreement with the Alaska Federation of Natives and the University
We welcome your comments and suggestions and encourage
you to submit them to:
The Alaska Native Knowledge Network
Old University Park School, Room 158
University of Alaska Fairbanks
P.O. Box 756730
Fairbanks, AK 99775-6730
(907) 474-1902 phone
(907) 474-1957 fax
Newsletter Editor: Dixie
Layout & Design: Paula
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