In This Issue:
Native Languages in Alaska
by Ruthie Sampson
(Keynote address to the 2002 Bilingual
Multicultural Education and Equity Conference)
Morning respected Elders, honored guests, educators and parents!
nuna ixiqsraqtiqman nakuqsixiqtufa. My
heart was really beating fast earlier but I feel calmer after
the earthquake. I worked in Anchorage in 1978 with Tupou Pulu
and attended the BMEEC over the years for a total of 10 to 15
times. I was thinking that if you attend often enough, sooner
or later they will ask you to be the keynote speakerI think
this was Mikes way of making sure I get here early. Actually,
last night I set my alarm clock to 6:30 am. I didnt want
to be late. During the night, I woke up at 4:30 am and went back
to sleep. I woke up again and it was still 4:30 am! I went back
to sleep again and this time when I woke up it was 2:30 am and
then I realized I had been dreaming that I was waking up at 4:30
It is an honor for me to be here today. I thank
the BMEEC planning committee, Bernice Tetpon and also Mike Travis,
for convincing me that I had something to say to you today. I
am here representing the Iñupiaq language, meaning the
people who live in Northwest Alaska and the North Slope. I am
from Selawik, Alaska and I work in Kotzebue for the Northwest
Arctic Borough School District.
I am also here on behalf of our Elder, Minnie Qapviatchialuk
Aliitchak Gray of Ambler, Alaska. She is not here due to a mild
stroke she experienced this winter.
Minnie is representative of the first Iñupiaq
language teachers who began to teach in the schools in 1972 when
the bilingual programs were first implemented in Alaska schools.
She was part of a wonderful group of enthusiastic, fun Iñupiaq
language and culture teachers who took great pride and delight
in learning to read and write in their native language. They
actually sacrificed several summers while others were gathering
food to attend workshops in Barrow, Nome and Kotzebue. They were
fortunate to have people such as Martha Aiken, Edna McLean, Larry
Kaplan, Hannah Loon and Tupou Pulu to teach them Iñupiaq
literacy, grammar and to help them develop materials for classroom
use. In those days, sufficient funds allowed all the staff to
attend the BMEEC and what fun they had. They have recounted story
after story about their cross-cultural experiences when they
traveled to Anchorage. Some were afraid to answer the phone in
their rooms. When they went to the restaurant, they would often
order chicken-fried steak thinking it was chicken. When they
went to the stores, one lady said she often grinned at the store
dummies thinking it was someone standing. One time, a whole bunch
of them were crossing the street and walking when the sign said
walk. When it said "dont walk" guess what they did? They
ran across the street! Even though they experienced all this,
they were always so willing to try things out and paid close
attention to learn as much as they could in the workshops they
Several years ago, we nominated Minnie Gray to
be the bilingual educator of the year. This was her philosophy
of education. She said it in Iñupiaq and we translated
it into English (listen very carefully because in this, you can
hear everything that needs to be included in a curriculum to
teach about a language and culture):
"Iñupiaq should be taught at an early age.
I have seen that the younger students are, the more they learn.
It is fun to teach these young children. As an Iñupiaq
language instructor, I realized that children need motivation
to learn. I motivated my students by offering them variety. They
cannot learn by only writing, so I took them out for field trips
and taught them about the things that grow. Same thing in the
spring. When they got tired of writing, I took them outside and
taught them the names of the many different birds that migrate
north. This motivated them tremendously. I had projects for them
such as skin sewing and other crafts, including making birch
bark basket. I allowed them to play Iñupiaq games when
they became restless. Sometimes, I even took them home and prepared
an Iñupiaq dish for them to sample, such as cranberry
pudding or some other dish. Other times, I taught them how to
make Eskimo ice cream. I also boiled the head of mudshark, which
has many bones and, as we ate it, I told them the individual
names of the bones. This is an interesting project and the students
think it is fun. For added variety, I told them Iñupiaq
stories and legends.
"Students should learn about life in school. They
should learn practical skills such as skin sewing and cooking.
Many students need these basic skills. They should know the names
of our Native foods and know how to prepare them. It is practical
to learn these skills because our environment is going to be
the same in spite of the changes in our lifestyles. We will still
need warm clothing and we will still need to gather food. Students
should know about the weather because we cannot predict what
the coming seasons weather will be like. They should also
know their regional geography. They should know their local subsistence
areas, their trails and place names of creeks, rivers and other
landmarks. They should be able to know where they are and be
able to communicate exactly where they are as they travel out
in the country for it is a matter of survival."
So there you have it. Everything you need to write
a Native language and culture curriculum. Minnie was one of this
great group of Iñupiaq language and culture instructors
who taught what they knew to the students and I give them all
tribute today. Over the years, most of this core group retired
and we have been struggling to replace them as fewer and fewer
candidates who speak Iñupiaq fluently fill their positions.
During the next three days, our BMEEC theme will
be "Bilingual and Cross Cultural Education: Tools for Community
Empowerment and Academic Success." Thats a mouthful and
has so much to say to us. We also have so much to say to each
other because we come here with our collective knowledge and
each and every one of you has something valuable to share with
another person. As I thought of what to say to you today I had
titled it "Living in a Modern World Without Losing Our Native
I wanted to talk about how we as Natives need to
continue to share our heritage and history to our students so
that they can cope in this modern world and still have a good
sense of who they are and feel that same comfort of being one
with nature when they are out in the country. I believe, as Natives,
that is one of our greatest treasuressomething we should
continue to nurture in our children and grandchildren. We must
have a vision for our youth that they can share. What are we
doing in this conference to expand this vision?
What is Community Empowerment and
Most of us would define academic success in terms
of modern schooling, saying it is to be educated in school and
home and go on to higher learning so that you can get a good
job and have a successful and meaningful life. Im sure
you have your own definition.
How can we make bilingual education and cross-cultural
education tools for community empowerment and academic success?
When we talk about bilingual education, we are talking about
speaking two languages. As an Iñupiaq, I will talk about
the Native language experience in Alaska. When the Guidelines
for Strengthening Indigenous Languages were being developed,
my concern was that someone needed to be responsible for providing
a forum in which our people who had been punished for speaking
Iñupiaq in school could come together and tell their story
so that their experience could be validated and they could hear
an apology from the school system and some avenue for forgiveness
and healing would begin.
The reason I brought this up is because it is a
recurring story that I hear and in a way prevents grandparents
and parents from participating effectively in the school system.
When bilingual programs first began in the early 70s and as they
continued in the 80s, some Elders expressed shock and surprise
that the language was going to be taught in the school, because
when they were young, they had been punished for speaking even
one word in the school playground. As young children, they had
a hard time seeing the difference between stealing, lying and
speaking Iñupiaq because they got punished for doing any
of those. Now years later, they were told it was okay and, today,
there are people in their 70s who still feel hurt when they remember
what happened and I think many people think no one wants to hear
their story because it happened so long ago and we should forget
it and go on with our lives.
We must realize that this action taken against
our parents and grandparents had ramifications that occurred
over the 20th century and an attitude of shame and humiliation
toward the teaching of the Native language was passed from parent
to child unintentionally, unknowingly and innocently, like Harold
Napolean described in his book Yuuyaraq: The Way of the Human
Being. He wrote that the symptoms experienced by the survivors
of the influenza epidemic are the same symptoms of survivors
of post-traumatic stress disorder and that the present disease
of the soul and the psyche is passed from parent to child unintentionally,
unknowingly and innocently.
Let us take time to reflect and understand what
happened to bring us to where we are today:
In his 1981 speech at the BMEEC, Iñupiaq
William Hensley said the following: "The policy of repressing
the Native language in the school system has had the effect of
repressing the ancient spirit of the people that enabled us to
survive over many thousands of years. The values that have been
beaten into our people were in direct contrast to the very values
that enabled us to survive. In the place of common effort, individuality
has been made sacred. In the place of cooperation, competition
is fostered. In the place of sharing, acquisitiveness in our
lives is pummeled into our minds through the media. It is no
wonder that there are so-called Native problems."
Eben Hopson, at a bilingual conference, said the
following which appeared in Cross Cultural Studies in Education: "Eighty-seven
years ago, when we were persuaded to send our children to Western
educational institutions, we began to lose control over the education
of our youth. Many of our people believed that formal educational
systems would help us acquire the scientific knowledge of the
Western world. However, it was more than technological knowledge
that the educators wished to impart. The educational policy was
to attempt to assimilate us into the American mainstream at the
expense of our culture. The schools were committed to teaching
us to forget our language and Iñupiaq heritage. There
are many of you parents who, like me, were physically punished
if we spoke one Iñupiaq word. Many of us can still recall
the sting of the wooden ruler across the palms of our hands and
the shame of being forced to stand in the corner of the room,
face to the wall, for half an hour if we were caught uttering
one word of our Native language. This outrageous treatment and
the exiling of our youth to school in foreign environments were
to remain the common practices of the educational system. For
eighty-seven years, the BIA tried to destroy our culture through
the education of our children. Those who would destroy our culture
did not succeed. However, it was not without cost. Many of our
people have suffered. We all know the social ills we endure today.
Recently, I heard a member of the school personnel say that many
of our Iñupiaq children have poor self-concepts. Is it
any wonder, when the school systems fail to provide the Iñupiaq
student with experiences which would build positive self-concepts
when the Iñupiaq language and culture are almost totally
Changes in the 80s and 90s
Since these speeches were given in the 70s and
80s, much has changed. William Hensley was instrumental in developing
the Iñupiaq Ilitqusiat Spirit Movement in Northwest Alaska,
where the values were listed and parents were encouraged to speak
Iñupiaq to their children. Immersion programs have been
developed in Barrow, Bethel, Arctic Village, Kotzebue and other
places around Alaska. We have powerful web sites such as the
Alaska Native Curriculum and Teacher Development Project created
by Paul Ongtooguk and his staff and the Alaska Native Knowledge
Network, a by-product of the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative,
where we receive information from Sean Topkok under the direction
of Ray Barnhardt, Oscar Kawagley and Frank Hill.
Although we have made some progress since then,
the effects of the punishment inflicted on our parents or grandparents
for speaking Iñupiaq lingers today. I was born in 1954
and when I went to school this did not happen to us. My mother
lived in camp much of her childhood years so she didnt
speak much English when I was young. My father, on the other
hand, had attended school until he was in the eighth grade. He
had heard stories of how people were punished for speaking Iñupiaq
and knew the importance of speaking English. When I was very
young, my mothers cousin and I were playing and speaking
Iñupiaq with a high tone English accent saying something
like this: Uvuÿa aquvillagutin. We thought we spoke English
when we raised our voices and played "teacher." Well, my father
pulled me over and said in Iñupiaq, "Daughter, you must
try your best to learn to speak English." From that moment on,
I did my best to speak English to him, but I spoke Iñupiatun
to my mother and grandmother. Only recently have I started speaking
in full Iñupiaq sentences to my father. I know he told
me this because he wanted me to succeed in school. My fathers
generation did not have the luxury of welfare or government assistance,
so their goal was for us to learn as much as we could so we could
have good jobs that provided food and shelter for us. I dare
say that at some point in the 60s, it seemed like the goal for
many young women was to move to a city and work somewhere with
a typewriter. Just come home once a year and see how everybodys
doing. That happened with some people, but they found that they
missed home, missed Iñupiaq food and all that goes on
in a village.
Last year, we had invited an Elder from Kiana by
the name of Tommy Sheldon to speak to the school staff about
the history of Kiana. He spoke about how the schools were segregated
when he was a child. Only the children of white people or half
breeds attended school until they set up a school for Native
children. He spoke about how he was punished for speaking Iñupiaq
at school. The most common form of punishment for people who
tell their story was to stand in the corner or next to the black
board with your nose matched to a dot on the board. This was
punishment for being Iñupiaq and speaking your own language.
A beautiful language that had been used to communicate and verbalize
concepts from a world view that existed for many years and helped
the Iñupiat to survive in the Arctic.
Later he said that if they spoke Iñupiaq,
then they were not allowed to attend the school party. If you
didnt go to the school party, you didnt get to eat
cookies and juice. Thats when I thought, "We lost some
of our language to cookies and juice." Today, the grandchildren
do not speak the language because of this cookie and this juice.
When I spoke to my father, he recounted that boys
who were older than him would refrain from speaking Iñupiaq
just to attend a school party where beans were served. So we
lost some of our language for a bowl of beans.
I also spoke to my friend Bertha Sheldon of Shungnak.
She said that when they spoke Iñupiaq, they would stand
in a corner.
They would also have to hold books from an outstretched
hand and would be barred from attending the school party at the
end of the month if they didnt.
If they couldnt go to the party, they would
go to the window and watch the fun the students were having inside.
She particularly remembers when apples were hung from the ceiling
with string and the students raced to see who would finish eating
an apple first without using their hands. It looked like so much
fun and the apples looked so delicious. Mmm, they thought, this
time I will not speak an Iñupiaq word. Later, they couldnt
even look inside the window anymore because the curtains were
drawn across the window.
Then I spoke to a former Iñupiaq teacher
named Amelia Aaluk Gray of Kobuk. She said that if they spoke
Iñupiaq in the school grounds, someone would tell on them
and they would receive a black mark by their name on a piece
of paper. If they got so many marks, then they could not go to
the school to play games on Fridays (an equivalent to game night.)
She said the teachers only wanted them to learn English so that
they could learn what was taught in school. She was not bitter
about what happened because by this time, she had learned to
forgive them and tried to understand what had happened.
Okay, so weve heard those stories before.
They happened many years ago. Right now is the time to move on.
Well, after Tommy spoke, a woman younger than me
remembered how she had to hold books with an outstretched hand.
She remembers the shame and humiliation and says that today,
as a parent, it makes it difficult for her to speak Iñupiaq
to her children although she speaks Iñupiaq to her spouse,
siblings and parents.
Another woman shared with me that when she moved
from the village to Kotzebue, where more people spoke English,
whenever she started to speak Iñupiaq, her sister would
whisper and scold her not to speak Iñupiaq. Especially
since she spoke a slightly different dialect from the one spoken
That is when I realized that this problem has to
be dealt with. I am not a therapist and I have no quick solutions.
Because a public apology was not made soon enough, the attitude
about the language silently crept from generation to generation
during the 50s, 60s and 70s. Now there is a new young generation
who wonder why their parents did not speak Iñupiaq to
Forgiveness and Healing
If we are to make parents and grandparents feel
welcome in the school, we must invite them into the school and
publicly apologize for what happened to them or their parents
in the past. We must hear their story and validate it. We must
not ignore it or it will continue to fester and more bitterness
will grow until we have nothing left. We still have hope that
more of the language can be shared and spoken in all its beauty
for it is a language of the heart.
The balance of this article will
appear in the next issue of Sharing Our Pathways.
Alaska Staff Development Network Alaska
Rural Systemic Initiative
Center for Cross-Cultural Studies UAF Summer Sessions Northwest
UAF Summer 2002 Program in
Cross-Cultural Studies for Alaskan Educators
The Center for Cross-Cultural Studies, the Alaska
Rural Systemic Initiative, the Alaska Staff Development Network,
the UAF Summer Sessions and the Northwest Campus invite educators
from throughout Alaska to participate in a series of two- and
three-credit courses focusing on the implementation of the Alaska
Standards for Culturally Responsive Schools.
The courses may be taken individually or as a six-,
nine- or twelve-credit sequence. The courses may be used to meet
the state multicultural education requirement for licensure,
and/or they may be applied to graduate degree programs at UAF.
Rural Academy for Culturally Responsive
May 28June 1, 2002Northwest
Campus, Nome, Alaska
The five-day intensive Rural Academy, sponsored
by the Alaska Staff Development Network, the Alaska Rural Systemic
Initiative and the UAF Northwest Campus, will consist of the
following educational opportunities:
Each enrollee will be able to participate in two
out of seven two-day workshops that will be offered demonstrating
how the Alaska Standards for Culturally Responsive Schools are
being implemented in communities throughout rural Alaska.
Two panel sessions will be offered in which participants
will be able to hear first-hand from key educational practitioners
and policymakers from throughout the state.
A day-long field trip will allow participants
to meet and interact with Elders and other key people and
visit sites in the Nome area.
Participants will share successful strategies
and programs from throughout the state.
Participants will have the option to complete
a follow-up project relevant to their own work situation.
Ray Barnhardt and workshop presenters
ED 695, Rural Academy for Culturally Responsive
Schools (2 cr.)
ED/CCS 613, Alaska Standards for Culturally Resp. Sch. (3cr.)
Cross-Cultural Orientation Program
June 321, 2002
The Center for Cross-Cultural Studies and UAF Summer
Sessions will be offering the annual Cross-Cultural Orientation
Program (X-COP) for teachers, beginning on June 3, 2002 and running
through June 21, 2002, including a week (June 815) out
at the Old Minto Cultural Camp on the Tanana River with Athabascan
Elders from the village of Minto. The program is designed for
teachers and others who wish to gain some background familiarity
with the cultural environment and educational history that makes
teaching in Alaska, particularly in rural communities, unique,
challenging and rewarding. In addition to readings, films, guest
speakers and seminars during the first and third weeks of the
program, participants will spend a week in a traditional summer
fish camp under the tutelage of Athabascan Elders who will share
their insights and perspectives on the role of education in contemporary
rural Native communities. Those who complete the program will
be prepared to enter a new cultural and community environment
and build on the educational foundation that is already in place
in the hearts and minds of the people who live there.
Ray Barnhardt and Old Minto Elders
ED 610, Education and Cultural Processes (3 cr.)
Native Ways of Knowing
July 15August 2, 2002
The third course available in the cross-cultural
studies series is a three-week seminar focusing on the educational
implications of "Native ways of knowing." The course will examine
teaching and learning practices reflected in indigenous knowledge
systems, and how those practices may be incorporated into the
schooling process. Examples drawn from the work of the Alaska
Rural Systemic Initiative and the Alaska Native Knowledge Network
will be shared with participants.
Oscar Kawagley, Ph.D.
ED/ANS 461, Native Ways of Knowing (3 cr.)
CCS 608, Indigenous Knowledge Systems (3 cr.)
For further information about the Rural Academy,
contact UAF Northwest Campus at 907-443-2201, 907-443-5602 (fax)
or the Alaska Staff Development Network at 2204 Douglas Highway,
Suite 100, Douglas, Alaska 99824, 907-364-3801, 907-364-3805
(fax), e-mail email@example.com or
go to the ASDN web site at http://www.asdn.org.
For further information on the other courses offered
in Fairbanks, please contact UAF Summer Sessions office at (907)
474-7021, or on the web at http://www.uaf.edu/summer.
ANKN Curriculum Corner
by Ray Barnhardt
The ANKN Curriculum Corner highlights curriculum
resources available through the Alaska Native Knowledge Network
that are compatible with the tenets outlined in the Alaska Standards
for Culturally Responsive Schools. The theme for this issue focuses
on resources for working with Elders and incorporating Native
ways of knowing into the curriculum. We welcome submissions of
curriculum resources and ideas that you think might be of interest
to others, as well as descriptions of curriculum initiatives
that are currently underway or for which you are seeking sites
or teachers who are willing to pilot-test new materials. Information
on obtaining copies of the materials described in this column
is available through the Alaska Native Knowledge Network at www.ankn.uaf.edu, firstname.lastname@example.org or
at (907) 474-1902.
Gwichin Native Elders: Not
Just Knowledge, But a Way of Looking at the World
A monograph by Shawn Wilson describing the role
of Elders in shaping educational practices in a region, including
drawing the distinction between an "Elder" and an elderly person.
Tlingit Moon and Tides Curriculum
A set of standards-based curriculum units developed
by Dolly Garza, drawing on both Tlingit and Western knowledge
of the moon and tides.
"Native Ways of Knowing"
A section included in the Alaska Curriculum Frameworks
document providing guidelines to school districts on the integration
of indigenous knowledge in curriculum development (also published
on CD-ROM by EED).
A Point Hope Partnership With the
Iñupiat Elders of Tikigaq
An article by Steve Grubis and Connie Oomittuk
that describes how the Tikigaq School in Point Hope established
an Elders-in-Residence program and incorporated Elders into all
Handbook for Developing Culturally-Responsive
A concise teachers guide developed by Sidney Stephens
which includes a section by Roby Littlefield on how to work with
Education Indigenous to Place:
Western Science Meets Native Reality
An article addressing some of the underlying themes
associated with integrating Native ways of knowing into the education
Guidelines for Respecting Working
With Aboriginal Elders
A "handbook for institution-based health care professionals
based on the teachings of Aboriginal Elders and cultural teachers." Prepared
by Jonathan H. Ellerby and available from the Native Studies
Press, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada (204-474-9899,
Guidelines for Respecting Cultural
A set of guidelines that address issues of concern
in the documentation, representation and utilization of traditional
cultural knowledge as they relate to the role of various participants,
including Elders, authors, curriculum developers, classroom teachers,
publishers and researchers.
Old Minto Camp
A 40-minute video of the cross-cultural orientation
program week-long camp experience for teachers associated with
the "Native ways of knowing" initiative.
Nutemllaput: Our Very Own
A 40-minute video depicting ways in which Yupik
language and culture are being incorporated in the schools in
the Yupik region of the AKRSI.
To Show What We Know
A 40-minute video documenting the activities associated
with ANSES science camps and Native science fairs.
A 30-minute video documenting the role and contributions
of Alaska Native Elders to the in- and out-of-school education
of Alaska Native children.
2002 Alaska Native Literature Award
by Andy Hope
The 2002 Celebration of Alaska Native Literature
took place on February 3, 2002 at the Anchorage Museum of History
and Art. The Alaska Native Literature awards were presented at
this ceremony, which took place in conjunction with the Native
Educators Conference. The celebration was sponsored by
the Honoring Alaskas Indigenous Literature (HAIL) working
committee, with underwriting support from the Alaska Federation
of Natives/Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative, Cook Inlet Tribal
Council, Tlingit Readers, Ravens Bones Press and the Anchorage
Museum of History and Art.
The awards program and poster were designed and
produced by Paula Elmes. The award plaques were designed and
produced by Ben Snowball. The HAIL working committee members
are Andy Hope, Bernadette Yaayuk Alvanna-Stimpfle, Virginia Ned,
Lolly Carpluk, Moses Dirks, Laurie Evans, Esther Ilutsik, Dorothy
Larson, Marie Olson, Olga Pestrikoff, Teri Schneider, Sophie
Shield, Martha Stackhouse and Sean Topkok.
2002 Alaska Native Literature Award
Frances Degnan for Under the
Arctic Sun: The Life and Times of Frank and Ada Degnan, 1998,
Moses Dirks for Aleut Tales and
Narratives, co-edited by Knut Bergsland, Alaska
Native Language Center, 1990.
Erma Lawrence for her lifetime work
as Haida oral tradition bearer, storyteller, educator
Michael Lekanoff for his work transcribing
and arranging Russian Orthodox choral pieces in Aleut
Elsie Mather for Cauyarnariuq (It
is time for drumming), Lower Kuskokwim School District,
Kisautaq Leona Okakok for her transcription Puiguitkaat (Things
We Cannot Forget), Library of Congress, 1996.
Mary Peterson for contributions
to Birth and Rebirth on an Alaskan Island: The Life
of an Alutiiq Healer, author Joanne B. Mulcahy, University
of Georgia Press, 2000.
Emma Sam for Yú.á (They
Say), booklet, CD and cassette tape, Teslin Tlingit Council
and Aboriginal Language Services, Yukon, 2000
Howard Rock for Lifetime Achievement
in Alaska Native Literature.
Mary Tall Mountain (Koyukon Athabascan)
for Lifetime Achievement in Alaska Native Literature.
Peter Kalifornsky for Lifetime Achievement
in Alaska Native Literature.
The Imaginarium Meets With Rural
Science Center Works With Village
Leaders, Families and Educators to Develop New Health and Science
Kids love learning and they love science! Parents,
educators and communities in Alaska recognize the importance
of health and science education. They are asking for more opportunities
for their students to experience science while also exploring
connections between science and their everyday life and the environment.
The Imaginarium heard this loud and clear while visiting communities
and talking with people throughout Alaska.
Fortunately, the Imaginarium, Alaskas own
science discovery center, has a wonderful opportunity to address
these needs and priorities. Recent grants from the National Institutes
of Health and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute will fund the
development of new health and science programs and will increase
our ability to offer meaningful, hands-on science and health
experiences to villages and communities throughout Alaska.
The Imaginarium will develop a variety of programs
and resources, such as exciting and entertaining assembly shows
designed to spark interest in a science topic and get the audience
motivated to learn more. Classroom programs will focus on hands-on,
discovery-based learning while community programming, in which
families are encouraged to experience science together, will
also be a priority. To extend the learning into the classroom,
the Imaginarium will design kits, resources and training opportunities
for educators, including teacher aides.
It is important to the Imaginarium, and indeed
the very core of the outreach programs vision, to ensure
that these programs are guided by and based on the needs and
interests of the communities they will serve. We will also strive
to create programs that acknowledge and respect traditional knowledge,
as well as consider the place, culture and past experience of
the learner. To this end, we are visiting communities in each
of the five geocultural regions of Alaska to address the needs
and interests of educators, parents, Elders, healthcare providers,
students and community members.
The Imaginarium is guided in this effort by a Science
Outreach Advisory Committee made up of cultural leaders, educators,
scientists and healthcare providers and chaired by Lydia Scott
of NANA Development Corporation. The co-directors and regional
coordinators for the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative serve on
this committee and have been instrumental in helping the Imaginarium
identify communities to visit and individuals and organizations
to contact. The Imaginarium wants to thank AKRSI, the Advisory
Committee and all of the communities we have visited so farKodiak,
Port Lions, Juneau, Angoon, Togiak, Nome, Savoonga and Koyukas
well as all of the wonderful people we have met along the way.
We have gained so much knowledge through visiting
rural communities, attending meetings such as the Native Educators
Conference and the Native Education Summit, exploring the Alaska
Native Knowledge Network web site, reading the Sharing Our Pathways
newsletter and other publications and listening to Elders and
local experts. The Imaginarium team also realizes that there
is more to learn and we welcome input or ideas at any point along
This important input and feedback will guide the
development of new Imaginarium outreach programs for the next
four years. Each year the Imaginarium will develop a set of health
science programs around a central theme. These will be piloted
in ten communities throughout Alaska and then become a part of
the Imaginariums Science Caravan program the following
year, making them available to all of Alaska. We will also introduce
three new general science outreach programs each year to keep
our offerings diverse and relevant.
Your community does not have to wait to experience
the fun and excitement of the Imaginariums Science Caravan
programs. Check out our current outreach programs, such as The
Big Chill, Radical Reactions or Rockin Reptiles on our
web site www.imaginarium.org.
For more information, contact Mia Jackson at 276-3179
Tribute to the Minto Elders
This is the second part of a tribute to recognize
the Minto Elders for their valuable contributions to the Cross-cultural
Camp in Old Minto each year and for sharing their culture with
all of us. Descriptions are from interviews with Elders, compilation
of descriptions written by Minto students for the Denakkanaaga
Elder-Youth Conference 2001, the Minto Cultural Atlas and from
other sources. Photos are from the Cultural Heritage and Education
Institute archives, unless otherwise marked.
Titus was born May 28, 1910 and she grew up in Old Minto. Minnies
father was Chief Charlie, the leader who founded Old Minto in
the early 1900s. Her mothers name was Laura and she remarried
after the Chiefs death. Minnie is the lone survivor of
Chief Charlie. Minnie married George Titus in 1928 and they had
eight children. Minnie did a lot of things and she worked hard
when she was young, including sewing, making birch-bark baskets,
setting muskrat traps and hunting. Minnie attends the Old Minto
camp almost every year. She is good at giving advice and talking
to the young people of Minto.
Charlie was born to Moses and Bessie Charlie on October 10, 1919
in a camp by Washington Crossing. He grew up in Old Minto and
he went to St. Marks Mission in Nenana. He ran away back
to Minto after three years and helped the family with hunting
rabbits and "chicken." Neal worked summers on the Riverboat Nenana
and he married Geraldine on August 27, 1947. Neal remembers that
in Old Minto, they were all hard working people, " . . . we
had to work hard, to get what we thought we needed. We didnt
expect checks or money. We went on trapline and sell the fur.
People used to stop for gathering, fun for a little while, not
all the time." Neals hobby was driving dogs and they used
to hitch up and go for rides in the evening like a car. You learn
responsibility from driving dogs since you have to feed them,
hitch the dogs and care for them. He also used to make sleds.
Neal recalls that, "In the old days, you had to learn stories
by listening, by accepting it. The old people would tell you
stories and tell it to you again." And "You should remember those
things . . . there are too many books and
computers that think for you." Neal says he always keeps encouraging
young people to do something to keep busy, like chop wood. He
hopes that he can say the right thing to help people who could
use it 50 years from now and that is why the Elders talk. He
concluded by saying, "Feel free to ask what you want, were
willing to talk."
Charlie was born to Teddy Charlie and Annie Alexander on September
25, 1929 in a camp out in the Minto Flats. She remembers many
things about growing up in Old Minto, especially when she was
sad when the teachers told her she couldnt go to school
anymore. There was just one room in the school and with new students
coming every year, she was forced to leave after fifth grade.
Geraldine was raised by her grandmother and spent a lot of time
watching fish nets, fish traps and snaring rabbits. She married
Neal Charlie in August 1947 and had six girls and four boys.
It was really hard to live only on subsistence and Neal got a
job working on sections of the Alaska Railroad. They lived in
Dunbar, Healy and Dome. Their kids were old enough to go to school,
but the only way they could have was to go out to boarding school.
Geraldine likes to work on birch-bark baskets, pick berries and
pick roots for baskets. Her advice for young people is to get
a hold of themselves and not go too much on Western side. She
says, "We were born as Natives to be Natives . . . keep
your culture as much as you can because it is our identity. We
are Native Indians. I believe we were put on earth for reasons,
God has his own way. God gave us our Native culture and I believe
we need to hang on to it, mostly our Native language and the
way we live, like eating our Native food."
David was born September 1, 1910. He arrived in Old Minto from
Nenana when he was eight years old after his mother married Louie
Silas. He remembers learning how to survive off the land from
his stepfather and uncle. He spent a lot of time trapping and
working as a carpenter. He married Rosie David and he worked
for many years as a janitor at the BIA school in Old Minto. He
says he never learned how to read but he worked hard and they
sent him to Sitka to learn how to repair the generators for the
school. He also worked in Nenana on the dock for about five years.
One memorable year at the Old Minto Camp, he built a canoe frame
with the help of camp participants that became an important part
of the Old Minto Camp video. He says "Indian life is good and
you have to use your brain." When asked about the future for
youth he says, "you go to school, you learn, you do better, if
not youll be nothing . . . dont
think of liquor, liquor is a hard life." Jonathan says that "Indian
life, it goes a long ways . . . listen to
people talk and it will come back to you when you need it."
Note: Watch for the next issue
with more on the Minto Elders.
Undergraduate and Graduate Fellowships
20022003 Award Amounts:$10,000
Date of Awards: September 2002 ($ 5,000) & January
2003 ($ 5,000)
Deadline: Friday, March 29, 2002
The Alaska Native Language Center announces four
competitive awards for students interested in focusing on Alaska
Athabascan language study and teaching. Award recipients must
be in good academic standing and accepted into the Denaqenage Career
Ladder Program* and admitted to a relevant UAF bachelors
degree program (for example, Linguistics, Education, Alaska Native
Studies) or the UAF Master of Education program.
Preference will be given to qualified candidates
studying one of the following languages: Tanacross, Upper Tanana
or Denaina. However, consideration will be given to all
applicants studying or intending to study an Alaska Athabascan
For more information and an application packet,
please contact Patrick Marlow at 1-877-810-2534 or email@example.com.
*The Denaqenage Career Ladder Program is
a DOE Title VII grant funded partnership between UAFs Alaska
Native Language Center, the Interior Athabascan Tribal College
and the Alaska Gateway, Lake and Peninsula, Iditarod Area, Yukon-Koyukuk
and Yukon Flats School Districts and Galena City Schools.
Beth Leonard Coordinates Athabascan
Beth Leonard has been hired by the Interior Athabascan
Tribal College as a language coordinator-instructor. This position
is funded by a five-year Department of Education Title VII grant
through the UAF Alaska Native Language Center. As coordinator,
she is responsible for overall language programming for the IATC
including organizing community classes for Athabascan languages
represented within Tanana Chiefs Conference region. The IATC
Athabascan Language Program will focus on forming collaborative
partnerships to assist in integrating Athabascan language with
culturally-based programs in local communities and schools. The
IATC will continue to work closely with the Athabascan Language
Development Institute/Denaqenage Career Ladder Program
to provide accredited Native language teacher education courses
and language apprenticeship training and support. If you would
like more information about the IATC Language Program, please
contact Beth Leonard at 1-800-478-6822, ext. 3287 or send an
e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Yupik Treasures of the Past
by Esther Ilutsik
Imagine opening a long-forgotten trunk filled with
items that were collected over a hundred years ago and finding
a pair of mittens made of fish skins with the most beautiful
stitches and subtle decorations that blended in with the mittens.
When you opened them, instead of a thumb pocket you found a hole! "What
on earth happened here?" is the first thought that enters your
mind, followed with the thought that these must be an unfinished
pair of mittens and then gently put them aside.
In 1997 a group of Elders and educators traveled
to the Museum fur Volkerkunde in Berlin, Germany to view Yupik
items that were collected over a hundred years ago. Many of these
items had not been seen by the Elders since their childhood and
brought back many memories that at times were emotional but provided
much valuable insight into a cultural group that has long been
stereotyped. The photos taken during this visit were discussed
by Elder Annie Blue of Togiak, who helped to present a workshop
at the 2002 Native Educators Conference entitled "Yupik
Treasurers of the Past". She was accompanied by Marie Meade,
Yupik linguist; Ann Fienup-Riordan, anthropologist and
The objects discussed were collected in 1881 by
a thirty-year old Norwegian named John Adrian Jacobsen (jack-of-all-trades).
He collected over 6000 items from Alaska alone and about one-third
of those items came from the Yupik region. Many of them
were slate blades, nephrite, amulets and other "stone-age" tools
(items that were associated with "primitive" people of the world
who fascinated the Europeans.) But he also collected everyday
items that were used by women, men and children as well as ceremonial
We made sure that all the items presented at the
workshop were visually informative, but we also provided background
information on how the items were used, the ritualistic aspects
of the items and materials used to fashion them. This in-depth
knowledge provided "fuel for the fire"; many inquires came from
participants who were hungry for knowledge of their ancestral
background but we had to move along with many lingering and unanswered
We had initially hoped to select 2040 items
from the slides to include in a traveling museum exhibit, but
the task of making a selection from all the items taken from
our Yupik region over a hundred years ago was immense.
I first thought that it could be done in a couple of hours with
Elders and educators going through hundreds of slides and making
selections of items that they would like to see in a traveling
exhibit. Instead we only went through about a dozen slides when
the time allocated for our session was up.
The plan now is to re-schedule a two-day session
where the Elders can more carefully make the selections. As for
the beautiful skin mittens, they were made in that fashion for
a young womens right of passage into womanhood. Details
are for the womens ears only!
The Academy of Elders/Science Camp
Students, teachers and other community members
in our region have an opportunity to engage in learning activities
that are culturally and environmentally relevant with Elders
and other culture bearers in a remote camp setting. 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, Kodiak Tribal Council and the Native Village
of Afognak are pleased to announce that, once again, this opportunity
is available this summer during two, week-long camps at the "Dig
Afognak" site on Qattenai, Afognak Island.
Camp #1: July 15-July 21
Camp #2: July 24-July 30
"Dig Afognak" site on Qattenai, Afognak Island
This opportunity is open to all Elders, educators,
community members and students, grades 212 (young students
may only be considered if they are successful applicants and
are accompanied by a participating adult family member.) Applicants
should have an interest in Alutiiq Native culture, language
and ways of knowing as well as science, math or technology.
Priority is given to those currently residing in the region,
but all are invited to apply. Student applicants must be committed
to completing a culturally- or environmentally-relevant project
for the rural science fair this fall. All are invited! Apply
early, as space is limited.
Application deadline is May 31!
Those who apply are asked to pay a minimal $30
If you have any questions or want more information
call Teri Schneider at 486-9276 (work) or email: email@example.com.
Alutiiq Elder Lights the Way
Davis, a Kodiak Island Elder from the village of Karluk, opened
this years Native Educators Conference by lighting
a traditional Alutiiq oil lamp and sharing a prayer with the
The rock oil lamp has been used in the northern
cultures from Greenland to Kodiak Island as a means of providing
light and heat. Some lamps are elaborate with animal and human
figures carved from the solid rock. Others are simply utilitarian
and made useful for packing in traveling gear and used on cold
nights while hunting. Typically seal oil or other mammal fat
was burned with a twisted wick of cotton grass or moss. Today,
many use cooking oil and cotton wicks. Rock lamps continue to
be used in homes and during ceremonies and gatherings throughout
the Alutiiq region as a way to honor our ancestors while celebrating
the continuity of our culture. Frequently, the youngest and oldest
persons are asked to light the lamp as a way to live the tradition
of passing on our ways from one generation to the next.
Observing Locally, Connecting Globally
2002 Summer Institute for Educators
Observing Locally, Connecting Globally (OLCG) is
a NSF-funded science education project based at the University
of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). The goal of this program is to provide
Alaskan teachers and students with opportunities to engage in
global change research focused on the local environment and connected
to larger issues of global change.
We invite you to participate in our third summer
institute for teachers to be held in Fairbanks May 28June
12, 2002. Participants will receive training and classroom support
in the GLOBE curriculum (Global Learning and Observations to
Benefit the Environment); current best practices in science education;
the integration of local/traditional knowledge into environmental
studies and collaboration with community and university scientists.
Anyone working with students is welcome. Priority
will be given to people whose participation will add to or create
a team at their site. We are especially encouraging teams from
rural Alaska consisting of formal and informal educators, local
experts in science or Native knowledge, resource specialists
or administrators. We are also interested in teams of urban educators
working with a large number of Native students.
Partial to full grant support for travel and
per diem to attend this institute is provided.
4 credits, NRM 595 or ED 595
Dr. Elena Sparrow, Dr. Leslie Gordon and Sidney
For more information or an application, please
Martha KopplinJoy School24 Margaret St.Fairbanks,
AK 99701456-5469 phone, 456-1477 firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcomes Judy Jaworski
Judy Jaworski joined the Anchorage AKRSI staff
at the Alaska Federation of Natives this year. Judy holds the
position of administration assistant. She is responsible for
managing office functions for statewide AKRSI/ARC programs. Judy
is of Iñupiat and Yupik decent from Elim. She is
married with six children and two grandchildren.
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) 263-9876 phone
(907) 263-9869 fax
Kodiak Island Borough School District
722 Mill Bay Road
Kodiak, Alaska 99615
Tanana Chiefs Conference, Inc.
Interior Athabascan Tribal College
122 First Ave, Suite 600
Fairbanks, AK 99701
PO Box 1796
Nome, AK 99762
8128 Pinewood Drive
Juneau, Alaska 99801
PO Box 219
Bethel, AK 99559
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 of Alaska.
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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