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Native Pathways to Education
Alaska Native Cultural Resources
Indigenous Knowledge Systems
Indigenous Education Worldwide

"Teaching Our Many Grandchildren"






A. A student should be able to make and use maps, globes, and graphs to gather, analyze, and report information.

D. A student should understand and be able to interpret spatial characteristics of human systems, including migration, movement, and interactions of cultures, economic activities, settlement patterns, and political units in the state, nation, and world.

F. A student should be able to use geography to understand the world by interpreting the past, knowing the present, and preparing for the future.



3) Apply various measurement systems to describe situations and solve problems

Problem Solving:

1) Recognize and formulate mathematical problems from within and outside the field of mathematics


1) Apply mathematical skills and processes to global issues


C. Culturally knowledgeable students are able to actively participate in various cultural environments.

D. Culturally knowledgeable students are able to engage effectively in learning activities that are based on traditional ways of knowing and learning.

Our Way of Life

Katie John and Bob Anderson gathering salmon at the Chistochina fish wheel.
©Bill Hess
Katie John and Bob Anderson gathering salmon at the Chistochina fish wheel.


Students will:

  1. learn how we and other creatures depend on subsistence for our survival.
  2. learn about the importance of maintaining fish, wildlife and human habitats.
  3. learn about single source cultures.
  4. draw a game cycle.
  5. demonstrate mapping skills.


GRADES 6 -12


  1. Talk with the Elders about animal migrations. Get an USGS/Regional map for your area. Have the students make a map of local migration or trail routes of animals.
  2. Research animals that are currently on the endangered species list. Why do animals become endangered or threatened? Are there any animals in your area that are threatened or endangered?
  3. Talk to Elders about traditional food gathering. Ask how they relied on the different seasons to provide their food. To what extent did they rely on the store to supplement their food? Did they have to roam far to find food sources, or did they generally stay in one place?
  4. Research environmental damage in your Village/area. What environmental damage was done? How were salmon and other life affected? Subsistence patterns?
  5. Discuss the impact of Katie John vs. United States.
  6. Have students write a reflection/knowledge learned journal page(s) to reflect their feelings/ gained knowledge from this activity.


  1. Make a list of animals that live on the land and in the waters near your Village. All animals need a certain kind of habitat to survive. Discuss the features each one of the animals on your list needs in its habitat. For example, salmon need appropriate water levels and the temperatures, the proper kind of gravel and protection from predators to spawn successfully. Also, grizzly bears need lots of space to themselves and huge supplies of berries, grubs and other food sources.
  2. Visit with an Elder and ask the Athabascan names for the animals on your list and how they were/are used.
  3. In the classroom, post the list with the Athabascan names, habitat information, and further information from the Elder.
  4. Have the student complete a reflection journal.

Land iconTeacher Note:


Subsistence is the political word to describe the natural resources converted to sustaining the quality of life bound by protocol, traditions, and customs of indigenous people. This is our way of life.


Freddy Nicolai Jr. and Chester Pence cutting salmon at Batzulnetas.
Courtesy of Joan Herrmann
Freddy Nicolai Jr. and Chester Pence cutting salmon at Batzulnetas.

Jena-Rene' Sinyon of Chistochina.
Courtesy of Megan Holloway
Jena-Rene' Sinyon of Chistochina.


Illustration by Chistochina student Shayne Crow Ghost, 2002.
Illustration by Chistochina student Shayne Crow Ghost, 2002.

Discussion Ideas:

  1. How were traditional Athabascan people dependent upon seasonal and animal migration cycles? Did being locked into these cycles give these people freedom or did it limit them?
  2. Imagine that you lived in Alaska a thousand years ago. You followed animal migration patterns for your food. This year the fish (caribou or birds) didn't come. What happens then? What are the chances of your group surviving? What happens to the sick, the weak, and the very old or very young people? How did the Elders deal with this?
  3. Could this happen today? Do we depend on one crop or animal as our main food or income source?
  4. Discuss what happens to the fox, marten, lynx, or hare population every four years. Do animal cycles affect human behavior?
  5. Discuss regional or local dependencies on fish or animals. What species does your Village depend upon for food and/or income?
  6. Can you think of any animals, statewide that are being affected by development or encroachment on their habitat?


MSTC Mission Statement



In A Sacred Manner, by Wilson Justin

Learn & Serve Focus Groups

People icon



Interview of Elders

Clans of Chistochina & Mentasta

Why Are We Here?

Who We Are

Land icon


Our Way of Life

Mapping the Village

What A Waste

Raw Materials

Our Natural Resources


Water icon


Water, Water

Our Watershed

Food icon


Where Does Our Food Come From?

Gathering, Traditions and Nutrition of our Food

Keeping Ourselves Healthy

A Student Led Health Fair

Assessment & Performance Evaluation


Learn & Serve Program

Sources, Resources

Thank You


Go to University of AlaskaThe University of Alaska Fairbanks is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity employer, educational institution, and provider is a part of the University of Alaska system. Learn more about UA's notice of nondiscrimination.


Alaska Native Knowledge Network
University of Alaska Fairbanks
PO Box 756730
Fairbanks  AK 99775-6730
Phone (907) 474.1902
Fax (907) 474.1957
Questions or comments?
Last modified August 17, 2006