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Native Pathways to Education
Alaska Native Cultural Resources
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Lessons & Units

A database of lessons and units searchable by content and cultural standards, cultural region and grade level. More units will be available soon. You can use Acrobat Reader to look at the PDF version of the Cover Sheet for the Units and Self-Assessment for Cultural Standards in Practice.





Rita O'Brien

Grade Level:



10 days during, just prior to, or after the moose rutting season in September

ARSI Region:


Science Standards:

A15 - use science to understand and describe the local environment;

D3 - recommend solutions to everyday problems by applying scientific knowledge and skills

Skills & Knowledge:
  1. be able to describe moose habitat, behavior and migration patterns for the local area;
  2. write a resolution recommending a moose management strategy (to be sent to local tribal government)


Cultural Standards:

  1. D1 - Acquire in-depth cultural knowledge through active participation and meaningful interaction with Elders
  2. E2 - Understand the ecology and geography of the bioregion their inhabit

Skills and Knowledge:

  1. be able to describe moose habitat and migration patterns for the local area;
  2. be able to use a topographic map of the area and enhance it to include local place names;
  3. become more familiar with subsistence activities of the area concerning moose.


Elders, village experts, local experts are utilized daily in and out of the classroom for their indigenous knowledge and skills. This moose unit is approximately ten days long and is geared for grades 7-9. It is foreseeable that additional classroom time will be used as each subheading can be expanded easily with writing, storytelling, art, or more activities. The unit would be most effectively taught during, just prior to or after the moose rutting season in September. A class camping trip or day trip for subsistence activities or to gather moose foods is encouraged.

Quadrangle maps can be purchased prior to starting the unit from the US Geological Survey office. Native language place names for moose can be obtained locally from elders as each local area of Alaska has a different language and dialect. The moose migration information sheet is for teachers to keep their students on track as students are encouraged to obtain the information themselves from the community and other resources. The moose questions page does not come with answers as it is for teachers to use to motivate students to inquire on specific topics.

A caribou unit similar to the moose unit could be developed using larger area maps to accommodate caribou migration patterns and feeding grounds as appropriate.


Lesson plans p. 3-5

  • Local Environment
  • Habits and Migration
  • Subsistence
  • Influences on Moose Population

Gwitch'in Words for Place p.6

Moose Migration Information p.7-8

Moose Questions for Students p.9-10

Moose Resource List p.11


Assessment: Some suggestions accompany lessons


Moose Lesson Plans

Lesson 1 - Local Environment


  1. Students learn about local place names and the moose environment/habitat near their village.

Time: 3 days


A. Students will make a map of their local area using a topographic/quadrangle map of the area.

B. Students label their maps with place names (marsh, lake, streams, slough, bog, etc) in both the English language and in the local Native language.

Standard: A15 - Use science to understand and describe the local environment

Materials/Resources: Elders , teachers, books, quadrangle map, journal, books

Procedure: As one group, students brainstorm and draw a bubble map on what they know about moose. Students choose a nine square mile rectangle area adjacent to the city or village that they live in and draw it to scale on drawing paper by folding the paper into nine sections. Maps are colored with colored pencils. Teacher invites elder(s) to share the place names and pronunciation in the local Native language. Assisted by the elders, teacher and students learn how to write and pronounce the place names. Place name learning is videotaped by student(s) in class. Students also gather information from books. Students write 1/2 to 1 page in a journal on the information gained.

Assessment: Teachers check student journals and give feedback.

Lesson 2 - Habits and Migration


  1. Students will learn about moose habits and migration for the local area and also for their specific nine square mile area

Time: 1 day habitat, 1 day migration


A. Explain moose migration and habitat for the local area and for their specific nine square mile map area.

B. Explain where moose are in a given seasons within the local environment.

C. Identify optimum and worst case environments for moose


Standard: A15 - use science to understand and describe the local environment

Materials: Elders, hunters, professionals, books

Procedure: Students work in groups of 2 to brainstorm a list of interview questions. The moose migration information sheet can be used by the teacher to encourage student questions. Groups share their questions with the class. Students list the questions in their journal leaving enough room for answers. Students take a short field trip with an elder for 1/2 day to look at local moose foliage. Student(s) videotape elder and ADF&G interviews and write up to two pages in their journal on what they learned. Students can review video taping of interviews. Students write a one page report on the moose migration and habitat in their local area or give a 2 minute oral report. The students will classify moose foods on seasonal availability.

Lesson 3 - Subsistence

Goal: Gather specific information on subsistence activities of the area concerning moose.


A. Make a finished moose product or

B. Explain moose hunting techniques or

C. Explain uses of the moose.

Standard: A15 - Understand scientific facts, concepts, etc [Use science to understand and describe the local environment (Local Knowledge)]

Materials: video camera, computer camera, photo camera, camping materials, food, elders, hunters

Procedures: Take a one to two day overnight camping trip with elders, or village or local experts. Students work with elders to set up the camp. Students observe and participate in subsistence activities such as: quartering a moose, tanning a moose, tool making, beadwork, making of babiche or sinew, miniature birch bark canoe making with babiche, cooking, meat drying, etc. Students draw and label a tool or a moose hunting technique. Students video tape and photograph the camping events. Students keep a daily journal on what they are learning.

Assessment: 1. Students show what they have made. 2. Students give a presentation on their learning experience using pictures. 3. Student journals.


Lesson 4 - Influences on Moose Population

Goal: Investigate natural and man-made factors that influence the fluctuation of moose populations (such as subsistence hunting, guides, outfitters, weather, forest fires, storms, floods, heavy snowfall etc.).

Time: 3 days


  1. Students will bubble/web the factors impacting the moose population
  2. Students will bubble/web interview questions for hunters, guides, outfitters and ADF&G
  3. Students will interview elders, ADG&G, local hunters, guides and outfitters
  4. Students will discuss findings of interview with elders
  5. Students will discuss predator control with a panel of elders
  6. Students will research laws on how they influence moose harvest with emphasis on laws concerning "wanton waste."

Standard: D3 - recommend solutions to everyday problems by applying scientific knowledge and skills

Materials: ADF&G regulations and definitions, video tape, elders, local experts, hunters etc

Procedure: students will work in groups to accomplish the objectives listed above. They will then write a resolution for the solution to a diminishing moose population in their area. The resolution will be sent to local tribal government, AFN, ADF&G

Athabascan Kwichin Words For Place


van (vun)




gwizhrih goo'aii k'ahjik


khii kat


tl'oo han shyaa

dried up lake






cow moose


moose calf




bull moose


Moose Migration Information:

I. Moose respond to several conditions that determine their migration patterns.

A. Predators

B. Insects

C. Temperature

D. Food supply

E. Snow and ice conditions

  1. They dislike clear ice because their hoofs slip
  2. The have difficulty moving about when the snow is up to their belly.
  3. They have extreme difficulty traveling or escaping predators when the snow is crusted in the spring.


II. Spring

A. They go to the south side of the hills where the snow is melting and not as deep. The crust on the snow during the night makes all moose quite vulnerable to predators. Cows often calve on the south side of hills for this reason. The wolves travel on top of the snow, and the moose's' legs are cut by the crust, greatly impeding their escape and defense.


III. Breakup

A. Before breakup they are still in the hills avoiding the river where there is clear ice and potential flooding. After breakup, cows and calves are often on the river for the protection the water provides. Bears kill more moose calves than wolves, although both are devastating.


IV. Summer

  1. Mosquitoes and horse flies often drive them to the water, either the lakes or rivers where they remain up to their bellies protecting the areas of their bodies that have thin hair. If they aren't in the water, they seek windy places that keep the mosquito hoard down.
  2. Wolves. Moose, particularly cows with calves stay close to the water because the first line of defense for a moose is to go to the water where their long legs keep them on the bottom while predators are swimming. The moose can beat a bear or wolf in the water.

V. Fall

A. The moose are either in the hills or on the lakes. They are more scattered during this time of year until the rut brings them together.

B. In our area moose rut on the river or the lakes close to the river. The cow's choice of feeding places determines the location of the bulls.


VI. Freeze-up to mid-winter.

A. The moose get away from the river and lakes because they don't like the clear ice that is forming. They migrate to the hills and mountains where the temperature is warmer. In the hills they can see and smell predators from a distance. They often get in groups of 2-5 at this time, with the bulls and cows segregated. Deep snow and predators kill many calves at this time.


VII. Mid winter to Crust time

A. The moose leave the mountains when the snow gets belly deep in the mountains. They go to the rivers where the winter chinook has caused the snow on the river to be far less deep. They live individually on islands and sandbars unless there are many wolves, when they will get in groups as big as 15 moose on an island. Predators kill many calves during this time. Wolves surround a moose, keeping it from eating until it is too weak to fight well. Again, during crust time the moose are in great danger.


Sample Moose Questions

  • What is the history of moose in western Alaska (They are quite new ! )
  • What are the different strategies for hunting depending on country and season? Island? River banks? Lakes? Brush? Mountains?
  • Moose typically sleep in a certain type of place. What are the attributes they look for in a sleeping place?
  • How do moose react in years with exceptional snowfalls?
  • What are the greatest pressures on the moose population?
  • What are current views on predator control? How absurd do you find them to be?
  • In the hierarchy of animal intelligence, where do moose fit?
  • Why are Alaskan moose the biggest in the world?
  • A moose is a ruminant. Find and describe the four stomachs. Identify the traditional names for each.
  • What are the differences between the native way of butchering a moose and the modern meat cutting practices? Why do these differences exist?
  • What is the best skin for babiche and skin boats?
  • What are the traditional uses for moose hoofs?
  • Describe how to cook moose horns while they are still in velvet.
  • What are the insects that trouble moose in the summer and how do moose respond to the insects?
  • What are the differences between the tracks of a bull and a cow moose? How can you tell one from the other?
  • How can you tell which direction a moose was going when the tracks are blown over in the winter?
  • Moose often stand sideways when they see a hunter. Why do they do this? This gives the hunter a great chance to shoot.
  • What is the main line of defense for a moose in the spring and summer when threatened by wolves and bears? What do moose often do when wounded by a bullet that is related to that defense?
  • How is leg bone marrow cooked and prepared?
  • Describe the process of preparing moose brains for tanning the skin.
  • Where is the thickest skin on a moose? Where is the thinnest skin?
  • Describe the processes used in cleaning a moose skin inside and out.
  • What are the differences?
  • Before a moose skin is tanned, it is often hung outside to freeze dry. What is the difference between a skin dried in this fashion and one dried in the house?
  • When we butcher a moose, we almost always lay the moose on its right side when removing stomach and other guts. Why is this a common practice?
  • Moose migrate from mountains to rivers and lakes for different reasons. What are the common patterns they follow and why?


Moose Resource List


  1. Moose Song Video, Minto AK
  2. Alaska Motion Picture Archives, Rasmusson Library - Alaska Native (1) Animals; (2) Forum on Wolves


Oral History Collection, Rasmusson Library -

Elders in residence collection has 80+ tapes o moose related subjects

Interior Elders

Howard Luke, Fairbanks

Jonathan David, Minto

Rita and Fred Alexander, Fairbanks

Catherine Attla, Huslia

Johnson and Bertha Moses, Allakaket

Margaret Tritt, Arctic Village

David Salmon, Chalkyitsik

Effie Kokrine, Fairbanks



Moose Tanning, Babiche, and Rawmane, TCC Survival School, 1977

Hoshino, Michio, Moose. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. 1988

Alaska Department of Fish and Game - Ecology curriculum books

Miquelle, Dale. Sexual Segregation in Alaskan Moose. Wildlife monographs, no. 122. (Washington, D.C.): Wildlife Society, 1992

Sopuck, Lennatt G. Late Winter Distribution and movements of moose in relation to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline in Interior Alaska. Sidney, B. C. 1984

Matanuska Valley Moose range Management Plan prepared by ADNR. Anchorage, AK: ADNR 1986

Field & Stream (West Ed), Moosin' around. Jerome B. Robinson. Jan 1966 v 100 n9 p52 (5).

Whouy Sze Kuinalth
"Teaching Our Many Grandchildren"
Tauhna Cauyalitahtug
(To Make a Drum)
Math Story Problems
St. Lawrence Island Rain Parka Winds and Weather Willow
Driftwood Snowshoes Moose
Plants of the Tundra Animal Classification for Yup'ik Region Rabbit Snaring
The Right Tool for the Job
Fishing Tools and Technology
Blackfish Family Tree
Medicinal Plants of the Kodiak Alutiiq Archipelago Beaver in Interior Alaska Digging and Preparing Spruce Roots
Moose in Interior Alaska Birds Around the Village Dog Salmon


Handbook for Culturally Responsive Science Curriculum by Sidney Stephens
Excerpt: "The information and insights contained in this document will be of interest to anyone involved in bringing local knowledge to bear in school curriculum. Drawing upon the efforts of many people over a period of several years, Sidney Stephens has managed to distill and synthesize the critical ingredients for making the teaching of science relevant and meaningful in culturally adaptable ways."



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Alaska Native Knowledge Network
University of Alaska Fairbanks
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Phone (907) 474.1902
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Last modified August 18, 2006