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

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.

Barb Pungowiyi

OBJECTIVE:  Students will make, under the direction of Marie (Aningayou)

Malewotkuk, a Saint Lawrence Island Rain Parka.

Schools A.  A culturally-responsive school fosters the on-going participation of Elders in all aspects of the schooling process.  A school that meets this cultural standard:  1.  maintains multiple avenues for Elders to interact formally and informally with students at all times;  2.  provides opportunities for students to regularly engage in the documenting of Elders' cultural knowledge and produce approriate print and multimedia materials that share this knowledge with others; 4.  utilizes educational models that are grounded in the traditional world view and ways of knowing associated with the cultural knowledge system reflected in the community.
A.  A student should understand scientific facts, concepts, principles and theories.  A student who meets thie content standard should:  14) understand a. the interdependence between living things and their environments; 15) use science to understand and describe the local environment (Local Knowledge);
B.  A student should be able to demonstrate responsibility for the student's well-being.  A student who meets the content standard should: 3) asses the effects of culture, heritage and traditions on personal well-being;
B.  A student should understand historical themes through factual knowledge of time, places, ideas, institutions, cultures, people and events.  A student who meets the content standard should:  2) understand the people and the political, geographic, economic, cultural, social and environmental events that have shaped the history of the state, the United States and the world.

This Unit can be used at any time of the year, as long as the walrus intestine has been obtained.  Walrus hunting usually  takes place during the spring, May or June, when the shore ice has moved out but there are still ice packs out in the ocean, sometimes 30 miles out.

Marie is soft-spoken and it is important not to ask her to meet with an entire class of students, because of the discipline required and the level of noise, so I have arranged for her to teach two students how to construct the Rain Parka.  The students will learn the traditional way by listening, observing, sewing and making corrections when told to.

The students can be required to research Mammals and write a short paper on their characteristics.

Mike Wade, of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Office in Nome, is willing to explain the Marine Mammal Protection Act.  The students should understand the sections,

Findings and Declaration of Policy
16 U.S. C. 1361
Sec. 2.  The Congress finds that-
(1) certain species and population stocks of marine mamals are, or may be, in   danger of extinction or depletion as a result of man's activities;

Title I-Conservation and Protection of Marine Mammals
Moratorium and Exceptions
16 U.S.C. 1371
Sec. 101. (a) [Imposition; Exceptions.]-There shall be a moratorium on the   taking and importation of marine mammals and marine mammal products,    commencing on the effective date of this Act, during which time no permit   may be issued for the taking of any marine mammmal and no marine mammal or   marine mammal product may be imported into the United Staates except in   the following cases:

(b) [Exemptions for Alaskan Natives.]-Except as provided in section 109, the   provisions of this Act shall not apply with respect to the taking of any   marine mammal by any Indian, Aleut or Eskimo who resides in Alaska and who   dwells on the coast of the North Pacific Ocean or the Arctic Ocean if such   taking-

(1) is for subsistence purposes; or 32

(2) is done for purposes of creating and selling authentic native articles. . .

Students can access the native American Rights Fund for a Timeline of Alaska Native Subsistence Rights activities.  The Timeline includes, 1980-ANILCA-Title VIII, 1994 Katie John ruling and Dept.  of the Interior actions.

Chubby Olanna, of Nome, is willing to come to the school to speak about walrus hunting.  He speaks about the importance of preparation and how he learned from his father by  years of watching, being quiet and following directions exactly.   He talks about the importance of respect for knowledgeable Elders, respect for nature and respect for animals.

The Walrus Hunt CD that Chubby and his son, William, made possible can be shown.

The walrus intestine can be obtained from Eleanore Oozeva in Gambell or Chubby Olanna in Nome.

If the intestine is obtained from Chubby, fresh, the students can be taught, by Marie, how to clean the intestine, inside and outside, and soaked for several days.  Marie teaches that the water must be changed daily until it is clear.  Soap is added.  The intestine can be dried inside or outside.  Marie indicates that drying the intestine outside makes it whiter.

Marie teaches not only the skills to make the rain parka but also history and values.  This activity is also important for young people today because many don't have very much contact time with Elders and grandparents.  This activity also instills pride in heritage.  It allows young people to realize their options.  They may make more positive choices in the future because of the realization of the knowledge and satisfaction gained.  The activity gives back some power to the Elders that should have always been theirs.  Importantly, the knowledge is being passed on; it will not stop with Marie's generation who have the skills.

Marie speaks about how the men had to be very careful and very quick when butchering because of the changing weather.

Marie speaks about how men butcher the walrus and bring it all back to the women to be used.  She speaks about traditional roles of men, women and children.  She speaks about how the meat is stored for winter. Marie's grandfather put the meat underground and used wood to cover it. He used a hook to get the meat.

Marie teaches that there are two types of intestine parkas made on Saint Lawrence Island.  One is used for dancing and one is used as a rain parka.  The white one is for dancing.  The rain parka has a lining of bird feathers.  These were the kuspuks before there was calico.

Marie will teach the students how to cut the intestines, two are probably needed, into rectangular pieces.  The edges of the pieces are folded to sew together.  Sinew used to be used; today we will use nylon thread. Marie uses a kuspuk pattern.

Marie has given permission to be videotaped.  Students can use the digital videotape to remember the lessons and the videotape can be developed into a CD.

A checklist can be developed by the teacher with the skills required to make the rain parka, the Standards accomplished and the Native Values demonstrated by the students.

I have not done this Unit yet.  I am trying to obtain the walrus intestines.

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
PO Box 756730
Fairbanks  AK 99775-6730
Phone (907) 474.1902
Fax (907) 474.1957
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Last modified August 14, 2006