A newsletter of the Alaska Rural Systemic
Alaska Federation of Natives / University
of Alaska / National Science Foundation
Volume 10, Issue 3, Summer 2005
In This Issue:
Sandra Kozevnikoff welcomes Wangari Matthai, the 2004 Nobel Peace
Prize winner from Kenya, to the Global Village at EXPO 2005.
Pamyua, Let's Dance Again
by Mike Hull
Taiko drummers led the green dragon into the Global
Village where we watched Japanese children bring it under control
with their dances. We knew by watching the ceremony that it was
safe to welcome a special visitor. Sandra Kozevnikoff, from Russian
Mission, stepped forward to welcome Wangari Maathai, the Nobel
Peace Prize winner from Kenya, as Maathai made her entry. Sandra
and nine Yup’ik students greeted her while visiting the Global
Village at EXPO 2005 in Aichi, Japan. “The world has a lot
to learn from you,” Maathai told the Yup’ik group.
She went on to thanked them for keeping their traditions and the
wisdom they have gained from nature.
The Russian Mission group arrived
in Japan on March 15. During the next two weeks they shared their
culture, dance and an educational
program with EXPO visitors. As the Russian Mission School principal,
I had the good fortune to tag along. Russian Mission School was
the focus of a doctoral study by Takano Takako, a resident of Japan,
who is instrumental in providing outdoor educational experiences
and coordinating environmental projects for children from many
nations. Takako’s interest in the subsistence-based curriculum
of Russian Mission led to nine junior high students traveling to
Japan in 2003 to present their culture and school program at an
international symposium on the environment. The students’ performance
had such an impact on the symposium sponsors they sought to bring
Russian Mission students to Japan for EXPO 2005, with the help
of Japanese corporate sponsors. The EXPO theme is “Nature’s
Wisdom,” and the focus is on exploring ways to build sustainable
communities. This gathering of more than 80 nations and 45 international
organizations runs from March through September and will host fifteen
Snow flurries fell on the opening ceremonies, but these Taiko
drummers continued to perform.
Each dance presentation ended with audience members joining
the students to learn Yup’ik dances. This was the
highlight for the visitors and students.
During the first few days, our students presented
their dances to corporate sponsors, organizers and government officials.
were formal ceremonies attended by a few hundred people, and the
students provided the evening’s entertainment. At each performance,
it took them just a few minutes to get the audience to put aside
protocol and join the dancing.
The official opening of the Global
Village, the area that hosted us, took place on March 25. A delegation
of Ainu, the indigenous
people of Japan, and our Yup’ik students were first to welcome
visitors. Next the taiko drummers and a group of high profile Japanese
entertainers took the stage for the first EXPO concert. Snow flurries
throughout the day kept many visitors away, and temperatures in
the low thirties thinned the audience as the night progressed,
but those who remained started dancing to keep warm. At the end
of the last song by the Japanese performers, the audience started
chanting pamyua, the Yup’ik demand to keep dancing. The band
responded and kept playing. Other entertainers, including the taiko
drummers, returned to the stage for a spontaneous jam session.
The Yup’ik student dancers took the stage as well, and the
music went on and on. No one seemed to notice the cold any more.
magic continued through the week as students performed twice a
day in the Global Village. With the EXPO open to the public,
daily crowds topped sixty thousand. The Japanese are proud of their
ability to maintain a schedule, even with such numbers.
Yet once audiences were
introduced to pamyua, the ending time got pushed back further and
further. And as visitors put on headdresses
and took up dance fans, they lost all sense of time.
press got caught up in this Yup’ik invasion
on orderliness. A national newspaper journalist spent half-an-hour
photographing the students then he put down his camera and asked
them to teach him to dance. Our students appeared in local and
national newspapers, and the national news program featured their
presentation and interviews.
Charlotte Alexie teaches Amanda, a Singapore student, to perform
the friendship dance.
Irene Takumjenuk teaches a young visitor to dance and two EXPO
workers take time off to follow along.
Prior to the trip, students prepared
DVD and PowerPoint presentations that showed the subsistence activities
they participate in through
their school curriculum. The Yup’ik lifestyle presented fascinated
the Japanese and other visitors. “I think it is so cool,” said
Wazai, a high school student from Singapore. “You are able
to live so close to nature, and that is something unimaginable
for many of us.” Another student from Kyoto told our students, “We
envy the way you live and the things you do as part of your school.”
also received a cultural education. We stayed at a traditional
Japanese guesthouse that has large rooms covered by tatami mats
made from rice straw. We left our shoes in a storage area near
the entrance and wore slippers provided by the owners. When entering
a room covered by tatami, we left the slippers by the door. Futons
and quilts were provided for sleeping. Every night we unrolled
these on the tatami and each morning rolled them back up and put
them in the closet. We found this was a comfortable way to sleep.
Traditional Japanese meals were served in another
tatami covered room. We sat on the floor and ate a variety of foods
small dishes. I was told that eating 23 to 30 different kinds of
food a day is considered a healthy diet. We became skilled at using
chopsticks in a short time. Then there was the Japanese bath. The
guesthouse has one bath for men and one for women. Each has a common
shower area where you sit on a plastic stool while you shower.
When clean, you join friends or strangers in a pool that accommodates
several people. You soak in hot water up to your chin, and spend
an hour or longer unwinding from the day. It did not take long
to adjust to this; after the initial experience students would
run home to get in the bath. They also raced to train stations
and climbed thousands of stairs to cram into rush-hour trains.
But whether we were commuters or guests, the Japanese were forever
accommodating, gracious and interested in us.
There are many colorful
and impressive presentations from the more than 125 countries and
organizations at EXPO 2005. Yet the Yup’ik
presentation was different. The impact our students had on the
community that grew within the Global Village was beyond my comprehension.
The students not only said, “This is who we are,” they
offered the opportunity to become involved by extending the invitation: “Come
dance with us.” Affection grew between the workers at the
neighboring pavilions and our students. Our hosts took on the mischief
behaviors of their Yup’ik guests, teasing and playing in
ways that challenged Japanese protocol.
When I questioned Ohmae Junichi,
the principal sponsor for our group, about the dynamics of this
relationship he responded, “Your
students planted some sort of seeds of friendship in our community,
although the community might be a very virtual one. They are so
innocent and pure toward the world. We know these days younger
generations are so influenced by what they see on screens. Violence,
monetary richness, selfishness or opinions based on any real experiences.
Your students are really rooted into their own land, nature and
tradition. That is why they are so deeply welcomed by our villagers
who are mostly living in very artificial world.”
As our last
performance in the Global Village came to an end, representatives
from each of the pavilions came forward to thank the students for
their contribution to the spirit of EXPO 2005. There was an outpouring
of gifts and many exchanged teasing stories about their shared
experiences during the two weeks. Each group insisted that we visit
their pavilion before we departed. Goodbyes were long and tears
were shed as we left the Global Village.
Later I began to understand
that when the Japanese look to their ancestors for guidance and
wisdom they recall rice farmers. Hunters
and gatherers lie in that shadow world of prehistory and myth.
To the Japanese our Yup’ik students represented a people
older than their cultural memory. Because our students’ lives
do not lie within the scope of human activity familiar to the Japanese,
our students were like creatures of myth. Their presence reached
beyond that of mere human beings; in Yup’ik beliefs the people
share a kinship with the bear, the caribou and the other creatures
of the land. By their presence, the students showed the residents
of the Global Village that the myth lives now by saying, “Come
dance with us.” And for a few days in Japan some of the world
came together to learn from each other, and our children taught
ANKN Curriculum Corner
Holding Our Ground
Holding Our Ground is
a 15-part series of half-hour radio documentaries that features
the voices of Alaska Natives as they struggle for
more control over their lives. This series aired during the fall
of 1985. Jim Sykes recorded the hearings of the Alaska Native Review
Commission (ANRC) on location in Alaska’s remote villages.
The Canadian Judge Thomas R. Berger served as commissioner for
the review and traveled throughout Alaska to find out how Alaska
Native people feel about their most basic values and how the 1971
Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act affects them. Holding Our Ground
and Judge Berger’s book, Village Journey, are the results
of the hearings. Land, subsistence and sovereignty are the main
themes that weave the people and their cultures together in a timeless
continuum. These themes are illustrated throughout the series.
This resource includes audio recordings and transcripts.
Sea Grant Resources
Alaska Sea Grant’s 2005 bookstore catalog
features 130 books, videos, posters and brochures designed to educate
Alaska’s marine resources. Our newest book is Common Edible
Seaweeds in the Gulf of Alaska, by Dolly Garza, a Haida-Tlingit
Indian and fisheries professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Garza also wrote Tlingit Moon and Tide Teaching Resource, a curriculum
guide that brings Native understanding of science and ecology to
the elementary classroom; and an instructor manual and student
manual, which teach kids skills to help them survive in an emergency.
video Sharing the Sea: Alaska’s CDQ Program describes
the fisheries quota-sharing program, showing footage of the new
and old ways in Bering Sea coastal villages. The book The Bering
Sea and Aleutian Islands is a richly illustrated volume that tells
about the science of the Bering Sea and the people who have lived
in the region. From elementary grade curriculum guides on marine
science to cutting edge fisheries research books, the Alaska Sea
Grant has a wealth of educational materials for all ages. The Alaska
Sea Grant/Marine Advisory Program, at the University of Alaska
Fairbanks, is part of a nationwide, federal- and state-supported
program dedicated to strengthening the long-term value of marine
resources through research, education and extension.
Education materials and resources are available
at the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute
Library for K–12
classrooms. Their collection focuses on general science, geology,
space physics and Alaska Native cultures. Any teacher can check
out three items for two weeks at a time.
For more information, contact:
Geophysical Institute Library
University of Alaska Fairbanks
611 Elvey Building
P.O. Box 757320
The Corporate Whale: ANCSA, The First 10
The title and content
of this series offer an analogy between the role of the whale
in certain Alaska Native subsistence lifestyles
and the roles and responsibilities of the corporations created
under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). The
10-part series provides audio recordings and the transcription
leading to the ANCSA and the mechanisms employed to manage
the act. Hear how leaders assess the first 10 years and future
Mentoring Program Helps New Teachers
by Mary Johnsen
New teacher Robyn Lamley and her class at Chief
Ivan Blunka School, New Stuyahok. Photo taken by Mentor Carol
Beginning teachers want to make a positive difference
in the lives of their students, but sometimes the challenges of
teaching are overwhelming. New teachers often feel frustrated,
inadequate and hopeless. A new mentoring program, the Alaska Statewide
Teacher Mentor Project (ASTMP), helps new teachers make the transition
from being a student to being in charge of a classroom.
Scoles, the ASTMP program director puts it, “When
I was a beginning teacher, I knew what I wanted my classroom to
look like, feel like and sound like, but it just wasn’t coming
together. In many cases I knew what was ’right’ but
I didn’t know how to make it right. Self discovery is painful!” During
her first five years of teaching, Scoles spent her own time and
money on books, workshops and conferences. Slowly she began to
develop into the kind of teacher she wanted to be.
Key to her progress
was finding a mentor teacher to help her ask the right questions
and build on what was working. “As I
became more successful as a teacher, my students became more successful,” Scoles
explained, “I figured out how to create a community where
kids wanted to be, where they felt safe and respected. I developed
a variety of structures to keep kids challenged and accountable
for their work. It wasn’t easy!”
“That’s why I’m thrilled about
the mentor project,” said
Scoles. “Mentoring helps new teachers advance more quickly
in their profession and helps everyone feel better about what is
happening in the classroom.”
The Alaska Teacher Mentor Project
models its program after the nationally acclaimed New Teacher
Project, a program developed in
California. In this model, mentor teachers are released from
their classroom duties so they can work full time on mentoring
participate in eight, week-long training programs to learn how
to help teachers analyze and improve their teaching practices.
The goal is to develop reflective teachers who are responsive
to the diverse cultural, social and linguistic backgrounds of all
The project is in its first year of a two-year pilot
project sponsored by the Alaska Department of Education and Early
and the University of Alaska. EED plans to evaluate the success
of the project on improvements in student achievement and increases
in teacher retention. The department will seek ongoing funding
based on the results.
This year 37 of the 54 Alaska school districts
participated in the project. Out of a pool of 150 Alaska teachers,
22 mentors were
selected for their excellence in teaching, interpersonal skills
and experience working in urban and rural schools. They have a
combined total of 413 years of classroom teaching experience!
Each mentor works with 12 to 19 beginning teachers. The mentor
meets regularly in person, on the phone and through e-mail with
individual teachers. Mentor Jan Littlebear explains, “I model
lessons for beginning teachers, release them for observing other
teachers, bring them resources, assist in the arrangement of a
classroom or in securing supplies and resources. Together we collaborate
on planning, lessons, instruction and all areas of the profession.”
“Jan has done so much to reduce my stress in
this first year of teaching in Alaska,” said Ann Anspach,
one of Jan’s
beginning teachers at Joann A. Alexie Memorial School in the Lower
Kuskokwim School District. “She maintained a sense of humor
and helped me to do the same, even in tough times.” Ann is
grateful for the opportunity to be mentored. “We have an
experienced teacher to model teaching strategies. We have someone
to bounce ideas off of. We have someone to help us find resources
and answers. Most importantly, we have a friend who stays in regular
contact with us, and who cares about our teaching success and recognizes
that we have to be cared for as whole people, not just as teachers.”
has been a challenge for Director Lorrie Scoles to take the New
Teacher Center mentoring mode that was designed in California
and make it fit Alaska. One problem is travel in Alaska—weather
gets in the way.
is helping new teachers adjust to rural Alaska. For instance, sometimes
help in the classroom takes a back seat to
helping a beginning teacher with food and housing concerns, such
as a broken hot water heater or a frozen pipe.
One central issue,
however, is mentoring new teachers about cultural differences. “How
do you teach someone to have an open mind?” asks
mentor Eric Waltenbaugh. “I would never presume to teach
about Alaska Native culture. What I can do is help teachers look
inward. Until new teachers are able to recognize their own cultural
lenses they bring to their teaching, very little movement can be
made toward adapting their teaching practice to meet the needs
of all their students. If they don’t recognize that different
forms of communication, beliefs, values and attitudes are legitimate,
they won’t see that modifying their teaching practice to
fit these differences will be helpful to both the students and
“Teachers have expectations regarding where
they think students should be academically, how they think students
should act, what
students should value, the best way to deliver instruction, the
most efficient way to give directions, etc.,” said Eric. “It
is very easy for a beginning teacher, given the fragility of their
first job and their need to feel successful, to judge and blame
instead of examining their own faults, misperceptions and personal
beliefs. Having a mentor helps them work out some of these thoughts
and provides positive support for professional growth.”
“For instance,” Eric explains, “New
teachers often get caught up in English literacy issues. I have
been working with
a social studies teacher who was scoring his student’s written
work based on English language standards. As part of the mentoring
process, I helped him examine his students’ work, and he
began to realize that the concepts he was teaching were getting
across. We were able to identify a high level of student thinking
that was going on. This teacher was thrilled, and empowered because
he had mistaken lack of specific language skills for lack of thinking.
This led to a discussion of whether it is fair to grade on something
you haven’t taught. The conclusion we drew was to teach specific
language skills in small chunks along with the content and evaluate
student work on these aspects alone.”
Eric tells another story
that illustrates how a mentor can bridge cultural differences.
He had dinner with several teachers that
were new to a village. He learned the teachers wanted to be involved
in the community, but were frustrated since they weren’t
invited to events or to people’s houses. Then he met with
the Elders in the community and asked them what their greatest
concerns were for the teachers in their village. The Elders replied, “The
teachers get holed up by themselves, and they need to get more
involved in the community. They need to drop by and visit with
us, take part in our activities.” Eric became a link to a
better understanding between the teachers and the community. The
new teachers learned that “dropping by” isn’t
rude; it is expected.
“Making the mentoring program more culturally
responsive is an ongoing project,” said Lorrie Scoles. “Collaborating
with Native educators to develop ways to help beginning teachers
culture—both the culture of their students and their own—is
important work. While we have begun the dialog, there is still
much more work to be done.”
Excerpt: Mentoring the Mentor
by Jan Littlebear
Henry White, local expert, teaches third-graders from
Wm. Miller Memorial School about fish trapping in Napakiak.
Photo taken by Mentor Jan Littlebear.
First year Yupiit instructor Elena
Miller, with the assistance of a local fish trapping expert named
Henry White, arranged
for her middle school students to make, set and check fish
in the Lower Kuskokwim; and for her third graders to check
trapped in nets that had been sewn and set under the ice
near the school; and finally for the high schoolers to sew the
their own fish traps, set them and later check their traps
for fish. All of these wonderful traditional, cultural experiences
were taking place over the course of several weeks, ending
first week of December. Enter the mentor! I arrived the week
when all three classes were snowmobiling out to their sites
the nets and traps for fish. Lucky me, I got to go along
for the ride. I watched as the high school students attached floater
lead-weight cables to fishing nets, and I went with all three
grade levels onto the frozen tundra to check set fish traps
I traveled to Napakiak to mentor my teachers, and I received
Researching Vitamin C in Native Plants
by Candace Kruger
In 1741 Vitus Bering and his crew landed in North
America on an island in Southeast Alaska, where he exchanged goods
with the Native people living there. After setting sail for home,
he found that his men where beginning to suffer from scurvy. Scurvy
is caused from lack of vitamin C. Some of its symptoms are bleeding
gums, loss of teeth, aching joints, muscle depletion and spiraling
of the hairs on legs and arms. Bering and most of his men died
from scurvy that year. They died trying to get home from Alaska,
when all they had to do was eat some of Alaska’s native plants
to survive. Alaska has so much natural vitamin C in its vegetation.
year in science class students were assigned to do a project and
enter it in the school science fair. My partner, Erik Grundberg,
and I did a project on the amount of vitamin C in the plants around
our village of Anvik and in Galena, where we attend high school.
We thought the information we would learn could be useful for future
reference—in case we got sick with a cold, we would know
which plants provide the most vitamin C. According to Dr. Jerry
Gordon, on the website “How Stuff Works,” studies indicate
that a high dose of vitamin C at the beginning of a cold reduces
its symptoms in some cases. However, vitamin C does not prevent
the common cold.
First we chose the plants to test: cranberries,
blueberries, rosehips, stinkweed, fireweed, spruce and yarrow.
Then we made a hypothesis:
we guessed that rosehips would have the most vitamin C. We remembered
hearing this somewhere, but we were not sure from where.
the test, we followed a procedure designed by scientists that uses
cornstarch, water and iodine. We boiled the plants individually
and extracted the juices. We mixed an iodine and cornstarch solution,
which was a dark blue-purple color. Then we added the iodine to
the juice hoping that the iodine would turn clear as it mixed.
The faster the solution turned clear would indicate the more vitamin
C in the plant.
Dr. Gordon states that the recommended dietary allowance is 60–190
milligrams of vitamin C daily to prevent a range of ailments. He
goes on to say, “Men should consume more vitamin C than women
and individuals who smoke cigarettes are encouraged to consume
35 mg more of vitamin C than the average adults. This is due to
the fact that smoking depletes vitamin C levels in the body and
is a catalyst for biological processes which damage cells.”
explains that vitamin C is essential because it helps produce
collagen. Collagen is all over the human body. It is in cartilage,
the connective tissue of skin, bones, teeth, ligaments, the liver,
spleen and kidneys and the separating layers in cell systems
as the nervous system. Americans get an average of 72 mg a day.
Studies show that if the body has too high of a daily intake
of vitamin C, the worst result would be diarrhea.
To our surprise
stinkweed had the most vitamin C, with rose hips coming in second.
Our teacher, Shane Hughes, said that oranges
have little vitamin C compared to stinkweed, regardless of
the advertising that orange juice is high in vitamin C. Although
orange juice may taste a lot better, stinkweed is best when
C. You can make a tea out of it.
Candace Kruger and Erik Grundberg
examine results of vitamin C experiments.
Youth Reminds Leaders of Past Chiefs
A speech to 2005 Tanana Chiefs Conference adapted
by youth delegate Tina Thomas
Sheldon collection, accession number 75-146-03, Archives,
Alaska and Polar Regions Department, Rasmuson
of Alaska Fairbanks.
This is my first year as a youth delegate, but I
have always come to these meetings. I have wondered why they never
honored the first chiefs that came to Fairbanks (Alaska) almost
90 years ago.
When you walk into the Tanana Chiefs Building, in
the entryway there is a picture up on the wall. A picture of the
and when I look at that picture I feel pride in my heart, I feel
proud to be Native.
As I stand up here I have the jitters and I
can feel my heart pounding, but I cannot begin to imagine how the
chiefs of the Tanana River
felt, knowing that they would be talking to the white man about
our land for the very first time.
Here are a few words, according
to the archives.
The words from Chief Ivan of Crossjacket:
“You must remember that I am making this statements in the name
of the Natives, all the Natives that are in this district here.
I am making this statements because I consider that all these
Natives that I represent I am sure do not want to be put on a reservation.
They don’t want to have one and therefore I am making this
statement for the Natives I am here to represent.”
from Chief Thomas of Wood River:
“I wish to especially state that when I talk to you now, I wish
to show you are touching my heart and at the same time I wish
to touch your heart.”
Judge Wickersham arose and asked the Indians:
“What do you want the United States to do for the Indians?”
Charlie of Minto replied:
“What can the United States do for us? Alaska is our home, we do
not know where our people come from, but we are the first
Words from Chief William of Tanana:
“To give them a reservation big enough for them to live on like
they do at present would mean several hundred miles and
think that the government can afford to give much ground.”
to the chiefs, an Alaska engineer commissioner said:
“As far as I can make out, from what the chiefs have said the Indians
want certain thing, and I want to know if I have understood
it rightly. They want freedom to come and go as they want to, fishing
and hunting, and if they take up their allotments, they
want to have to live them perhaps all the time that the
law demands, but if they do take up allotments they will build cabins and
call them their homes. Is that the opinion of the assembled
Unanimous answer from the Indians:
The words of Paul Williams:
“Therefore, I wish you to take this in mind, that about this reservation,
I think it is a fake.”
With those powerful words said, I think that with the
opening of the TCC convention, we should also honor
our first chiefs,
without them we would not be strong, sovereign and
self-sufficient. And I will be honored to thank the
chiefs who were so
courageous and brave, for in those days it was very
hard to stand
up to the white man.
The following Indians were present
at the said council:
Chief Joe of Sakchaket
Chief John of Chena
My great, great grandfather Chief
Thomas of Wood River
Julius Pilot of Nenana
Chief Charlie of Minto
Chief Alexander of Tolovana
Titus Alexander of Tolovana
Chief Ivan of Cross jacket
Alexander William, of Ft. Gibbon
William of Ft. Gibbon
Albert of Ft. Gibbon
Jacob Starr of Ft. Gibbon
Johny Folger of Ft. Gibbon
Paul Willams of Ft. Gibbon
To these men: Basee cho (thank you).
Tina Thomas is from Toghotili
(Nenana), Alaska located on the Tanana River and the Parks Highway
Xut’ana, which means the Caribou Clan. Her grandmother
is Norma George and her grandfather is Charlie Thomas.
The Making of Red Cedar of Afognak
by Alisha Drabek
In August 2004, the Native Village
of Afognak Tribal Council (NVA) produced a children’s book
titled Red Cedar of Afognak: A Driftwood Journey. The book was
created through a collaboration
between Elders, Western scientists, tribal members, tribal artists
The book’s production, in fact, tells a unique
story itself of how diverse groups can come together to produce
a text based
on oral tradition, with rich cultural information, in partnership
with Western science. Rooted in our Native ways of knowing, the
book is intended to be a model for sharing traditional storytelling
that incorporates scientific knowledge, with the purpose of educating
our youth in a place-based way.
The Red Cedar of Afognak was written
primarily for elementary and middle school classroom usage, as
well as within a cultural camp
context. In fact, the book project grew out of the tribe’s
Dig Afognak: Elders’ Camp where Alutiiq Elders and culture-bearers
have gathered each summer for a week to share their knowledge of
Alutiiq language, history and cultural traditions.
Left to right: Alisha Drabek, Red Cedar of Afognak co-author;
John “JP” Pestrikoff, a Port Lions Elder; and
Gloria Selby, artist and illustrator share a hug at the Port
Lions Celebration of Culture gathering to honor the book’s
One of the Elders
who attended this camp was John Pestrikoff, “JP,” now
of Port Lions but originally from Afognak. JP shared a story his
Elders told him about a driftwood log washed a mile inland behind
the old Afognak village. His Elders told him it was thrown there
during a tsunami centuries before. He raised questions about the
long history of tsunamis in the region and their impact on the
Among the camp participants were geologist
Dr. Gary Carver and archaeobotanist Dr. Karen Adams. Dr. Carver’s
core sample research on Afognak validated Elders’ stories
of previous tsunamis. In turn, Dr. Adams explored the origin of
and the currents on which they traveled to arrive on Afognak’s
shores. She also studied the many uses of driftwood by the Alutiiq,
who 1,000 years ago did not have trees. Dr. Adams saw JP’s
story as an excellent opportunity to demonstrate just what the
tribe’s cultural camps were trying to prove—science
concepts can be taught effectively through traditional Native knowledge.
Perhaps better said, Native knowledge is scientific.
One of the
main benefits of the book project was that combining two world
perspectives—Western science and our Native ways
of knowing—is mutually validating. The chief outcomes of
combining the two is that for Native students it helps build self-esteem
in having their Elders’ wisdom acknowledged, and makes difficult
concepts easier to grasp as they are made relevant to personal
and cultural experiences.
By acknowledging our Elders’ knowledge
we can further honor their importance in our lives as being our
first teachers. Scientific
concepts taught in school are inherently present in traditional
Native knowledge systems. Often, though, students are unaware of
the deep environmental knowledge long-existent within their culture
After Dr. Karen Adams returned home to Tucson, Arizona,
she wrote the tribe with an outline of her ideas for this book
tribal council and staff pursued the project, combining additional
oral history research they had conducted with Elders.
At the time,
I served as tribal administrator for NVA. With my background in
creative writing I developed the outline into a full
story. Working with Elders and the Alutiiq Museum, Alutiiq language
vocabulary was further incorporated into the project, as well as
graphics to demonstrate science concepts. Local tribal artist Gloria
Selby was brought in on the project after the written text was
completed. She created original watercolor artwork to accompany
In addition to the production of the book, the Native
Village of Afognak has created a companion curriculum unit. The
outlines the potential teaching opportunities that the book supports.
They also have created a week-long culture camp to explore the
story and its concepts with youth, Elders and Native educators.
book has received two Honoring Alaska’s Indigenous Literature
(HAIL) awards. In February 2004 JP Pestrikoff was given a HAIL
award for his role as the contributing culture-bearer to the book.
Then, in February 2005, I received a HAIL award as the tribal author
of the book.
Copies of the book are available directly from the
Native Village of Afognak for $14.00. Contact the Native Village
of Afognak at
907-486-6357 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alisha Drabek is an assistant
professor of English at Kodiak College, a member of the Native
Educators of the Alutiiq Region
an Alutiiq language apprentice through the Alutiiq Museum.
She is an Afognak tribal member and co-author of The Red Cedar
Use of Relevant Materials
Strengthens Ch'eghutsen' Project
by Hanna Carter, Cheryl Mayo-Kriska, Sarah McConnell,
Paula McQuestion and Cecelia Nation
The Ch’eghutsen’ Project is a family-driven,
culturally-appropriate and strength-based behavioral health service
for children, families
and communities. The project philosophy is founded on “ch’eghutsen’,” an
Athabascan belief from the village of Minto, Alaska that has a
broad meaning that includes “children are precious.” To
fulfill this mission, the project integrates cultural traditions,
guidance from Elders, mental health training and university credentialing.
Culturally-relevant materials shared by the Alaska Native Knowledge
Network (ANKN) are used in the project. These materials have a
significant impact on the Ch’eghutsen’s training program,
which influences the delivery of our services to children, family
Fairbanks Native Association (FNA), Tanana Chiefs
Conference (TCC) and the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) collaborate
on this “System
of Care” project funded by the federal Substance Abuse and
Mental Health Services Administration. A Circles of Care grant,
which brought together Native people from Interior Alaska, guided
the development of the project’s vision, training and service
Project planners identified training as an essential
component for several reasons. They hoped to develop culturally
and credentialed children’s mental health providers to serve
Fairbanks and the surrounding Interior villages of Nenana, Stevens
Village, Huslia, Allakaket, Nulato and Koyukuk. They hoped to decrease
turnover by hiring and training local residents in these communities.
To decrease potential burnout of these mental health workers, they
would participate in intensive skill-based training in order to
face the challenges related to children experiencing a serious
disharmony at home, school or in the community.
The Ch’eghutsen’ Project
says “Thank you!” to
the Alaska Native Knowledge Network for your generosity and collaboration
in “sharing your pathways” with us.
The Ch’eghutsen’ Project
planners hoped to stimulate changes in the behavioral health service
system by training and
encouraging Alaska Natives to earn credentials that prepare them
to thrive in behavioral health leadership and supervisory positions.
Most of all, the planners wanted their efforts to result in culturally-appropriate
mental health services that would better meet the needs of Alaska
Native children and their families in Interior Alaska.
created within the Ch’eghutsen’ Project
included care coordinators, a family advocate and a youth coordinator.
Ch’eghutsen’ staff first worked through the UA Rural
Human Services Certificate Program (RHS) for training; then they
pursued the associate of applied sciences degree in Human Service.
We are thankful for the positive relationships with these programs.
Each academic program helped us meet student and project needs
with flexibility, responsiveness and cultural respect. The Ch’eghutsen’ training
program partnered with RHS and the Human Services program to develop
new UAF courses and adapt existing ones, which integrated cultural
appropriateness while maintaining academic rigor. In the development
and adaptation of courses, the ANKN materials have been highly
The Ch’eghutsen’ staff, who are students,
identified cultural relevance as the essential power of the training
Courses integrate community cultural traditions with mainstream
knowledge, which in turn, are valued by community members. Community
support is critical to the success of our students. Communities
share in the investment a student makes when they send an active
human resource to town for weeks of training, allowing time to
study, do homework and attend teleconference classes. In turn,
Ch’eghutsen students give back to the community by sharing
ANKN materials, using these materials to stimulate community discussion,
spark collaboration with local schools and celebrate the strengths
of their culture.
Here are a few brief examples of how we have used ANKN materials:
Own Trail authored by Howard Luke, was one of our main textbooks
for a Ch’eghutsen’ adapted course on rural counseling.
As part of our studies we made a day trip to Howard’s Gaalee’ya
Spirit Camp on the Tanana River. Howard Luke and Elizabeth Fleagle
were our Elder mentors for the weeklong class, bringing the book
to life. Course assignments included keeping a daily journal that
had a “trail” theme, an essay describing the student’s “own
trail” to becoming a counselor and an essay reflecting community
interviews about local descriptions and expectations of a counselor.
ANKN cultural values posters and cultural standards books were
key resources for the Ch’eghutsen’ developed course “Alaska
Native Healing in Human Services,” taught by Kenneth Frank
and a terrific Elder team that included Howard Luke from the Chena-Fairbanks
area, Lincoln Tritt from Arctic Village, Catherine Attla from Huslia,
Pauline Peter from Nulato and Ida Ross who is originally from Kobuk,
Alaska. Students used these materials to explore personal and community
values, discover local dormant values and develop ways to apply
cultural values and standards to their work with children and families.
The excellent resources of the Alaska Native Language Center were
also critical to the success of this course, as students learned
more about traditional stories and the applications of those stories.
to right: Eliza Ned, Allakaket; Cecelia Nation, Fairbanks; Mary
Pilot, Koyukuk; Mona Perdue Jones, Fairbanks; and Sophie Ellen
Harold Napoleon’s Yuuyaraq: The Way of
the Human Being was a primary text in the curriculum. It is now a book
our care coordinators
recommend and talk about with Ch’eghutsen’ clients
to help them understand the powerful effects of intergenerational
trauma and to share hope with those experiencing challenging times.
As one care coordinator describes it, “I explain to them
about how our people used the old way of teaching and since we
have lost those ways, we don’t have anything to fall back
on. We don’t understand the Western way of healing and it
will not work for us. We have to go back to our Native ways of
healing, which is off the land, nature and seasons of living ...
We can learn from books like Harold Napoleon’s, because we
as Native people all have similar beliefs and customs.”
Gospel According to Peter John is another book that makes an impact
beyond the classroom. Information from the book is shared
with clients and the book is made available to encourage healing
that makes sense within the culture. A care coordinator said, “I
suggest that (clients) journal their thoughts and ideas and life
experiences in order to heal and put things down on paper just
like these famous authors have done. It could be a source of healing
for them and they could be authors like Harold and Peter.”
participant in the Ch’eghutsen’ training program
said, “These are very critical strengthening reading materials
for me and my classmates. I would recommend sources such as these
for them to get a new meaning for our old way of life that has
pretty much disappeared from our modern day life.” There
is a true healing quality in the materials available through ANKN.
has thirteen Alaska Native students from Fairbanks and Interior
villages who have participated in our
training program. They began their studies in the fall of 2002.
Six will receive their AAS degree in Human Service in May 2005.
Four others only need three more credits to complete their degree.
Others individuals are working towards their bachelor’s and
master’s degrees. Two have chosen to attend UAF fulltime
and are making excellent progress toward psychology degrees.
you to the Elders and community members who have supported our
training program in so many ways. Thank you to the Alaska Native
Knowledge Network for making so many helpful, culturally-relevant
materials available. We appreciate your support. It has been
important in our learning journey.
Technical Assistance for Schools in Alaska
by Ray Barnhardt
The following article contains
excerpts from the final report of the Northwest Regional Advisory
Committee submitted to the U.S.
Department of Education (DOE) on March 31, 2005.
passed the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002, they directed
the U.S. DOE to establish 20 technical assistance
centers to help regional, state and local educational agencies
and schools implement the No Child Left Behind goals and programs,
and apply the use of scientifically valid teaching methods and
assessment tools in:
- core academic subjects of mathematics, science and
reading or language arts;
- English language acquisition; and
- education technology.
The centers will also be responsible for:
- facilitating communication between education experts,
school officials, teachers, parents and librarians;
information to schools, educators, parents and policymakers for
improving academic achievement, closing achievement gaps
and encouraging and sustaining school improvement; and
- developing teacher and
school leader in-service and pre-service training models that
illustrate best practices in the use
of technology in different content areas.
They will coordinate with the regional
education labs, the National
Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, the
Office of the Secretary of Education, state service agencies
technical assistance providers in the region.
a committee to provide input from the Northwest region, which includes
the states of Alaska, Idaho, Montana,
Washington. Karen Rehfeld, from Early Education and Development,
Marilyn Davidson a Kodiak principal and Ray Barnhardt from
the University of Alaska Fairbanks were the Alaska representatives
on the Northwest Regional Advisory Committee (NW RAC). Input
to the committee was sought from educators and the general
throughout the state, including a two-day educational needs
assessment forum held in Anchorage in January that brought
technical assistance providers serving Alaska schools. The
Alaskan Federation of Natives and the Southeast Regional Resource
cosponsored the forum, which included representatives from
the regional Native educator associations.
Within the Region
NW RAC identified needs and developed recommendations
in four priority areas: leadership, language-culture-diversity,
gap and effective use of technology. In the area of leadership,
technical assistance in using research that improves school
leadership holds tremendous potential to help schools bolster
performance, particularly for low-income and minority students.
second area for technical assistance is to address issues associated
with language, culture and diversity among our students.
is a growing body of evidence that indicates the way language
and culture are addressed in the education system can have
impact on the performance of students, and especially those
from particular cultural communities. Culturally-responsive
and teaching practices that are tailored to the diverse populations
requires a shift in emphasis from the one-size-fits-all composite
approach that has been typical of past responses to “diversity” in
A third area to be addressed has to do with assisting
schools in developing strategies to engage the entire community
establish a two-way dialogue for facilitating the achievement
of all students.
Technical assistance efforts should be focused on educating
and supporting teachers and building administrators in using
in engaging parents as productive partners and in defining
meaningful roles for parents.
Finally, technical assistance
needs to provide support for the effective use of technology in
a school setting. The use
can also expand the reach of technical assistance centers.
It can help administrators and teachers create databases to
performance data to inform instructional decisions and effect
instructional improvements for the region’s diverse student
populations. In school districts where release time for teachers
to obtain, the use of web-based technologies can improve their
access to center services. Technology permits greater access
by participants and its continuous availability enables access
content for even the most hard-to-reach educators. Whether
a function of geography, resource restrictions, time or knowledge,
in addressing the challenge of developing or identifying effective
research-based practices to close the achievement gap can be
impacted through knowledgeable applications of technology.
the needs for technical assistance in the Northwest region
are similar to those of the rest of the country, the delivery
of technical assistance is made more challenging by the region’s
geographic vastness and subsequent population isolation. These
factors, unique to the Northwest (including Alaska), make it
difficult to create a coordinated systemic professional development
to build local capacity to address the academic needs of the
diverse student population. The need for well-trained and qualified
educators and effective schools within the Northwest Region
must become a priority if achievement gap disparities are to
The United States DOE will be
soliciting proposals from technical assistance providers outlining
how they will address the needs
identified above. In addition to a region-wide technical assistance
center, the NW RAC also recommended that a second technical
assistance center continue to be based in Alaska to specifically
issues involving Alaskan Native and American Indian students
throughout the Northwest region (with a satellite office in
Priorities for this center would include:
- developing and identifying culturally-appropriate research-based
materials for curriculum, learning and assessment relevant
to particular diverse populations in order to close the achievement
gap and provide
access to higher level learning opportunities for all students;
culturally-appropriate curriculum materials, teaching and assessment
practices for American Indians and Alaskan
- identifying and disseminating research-based practices that
address the unique challenges associated with low socioeconomic
- identifying and developing strategies for engaging families
and communities in partnership with schools to support success
- developing and preparing a highly effective workforce for the
culturally diverse, multi-graded, high-poverty and rural schools
The U.S. DOE Request for Proposals is targeted for
release in May 2005. Proposals will be submitted by early summer
assistance centers are expected to be open this fall. For
further information about the NW RAC process or recommendations,
The full report of NW RAC is available online at:
I˝upiaq Immersion Students Learn
Language and Culture
by Martha Stackhouse
immersion classes at the Ipalook Elementary School in Barrow are
busy learning the language and culture this
year. There are classes for three- and four-year-old children and
kindergarten and first-grade immersion classes.
When school started
in the fall, we took a field trip to the tundra to pick plants.
We picked yellow daisies, lichen, willows, tundra
leaves and tall red grass that grows along the creek. We got to
chase a lemming. Every year we go on a field trip to the beach
but polar bears roamed the beach this year so we canceled the trip.
the holidays, we went to the senior center to sing Christmas carols.
The students liked going there; some had an amau or “great
grandparent” in the audience. After singing, they would go
to their amau and give him or her a big hug. The senior citizens
enjoyed seeing the children in their building.
We performed for
the combined North Slope and Northwest Arctic Boroughs’ Economic
Summit, which happened prior to the Kivgiq festivities. The students
welcomed the audience in Iñupiaq,
sang songs then danced sayuutit or “motion dances,” while
one of the students drummed.
In the future, we plan to go to the
Iñupiaq Heritage Center
Museum to look at artifacts and hunting tools. In the past few
months, our children have witnessed whaling preparations in their
own homes and in the homes of their relatives. The whaling season
is always looked forward to with anticipation.
The children are
learning to count in Iñupiaq. They can
count by 10s up to 100. They are learning the Kaktovik numeral
system. The students do well in math; maybe using the Kaktovik
numeral system gives them the chance to exercise their minds and
Our children are learning Iñupiaq despite
the limits with the mandated No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) we
language learning to 50 percent. Nevertheless, students are learning
Iñupiaq. Our teaching techniques include using Total Physical
Response. For instance, if a teacher asks a student to close the
door, the student has to say they are walking to the door and that
he or she is closing the door while doing the command. When it
is snack time, students know that they will not get juice or crackers
unless they ask for it in Iñupiaq. When students say they
are done with their work and ask to play in Iñupiaq then
they get to play.
In January we held a North Slope Education Summit.
Two people from New Zealand, Hinekahukura Tuti Aranui and Roimata
the guest speakers. They met with the language teachers, community
members and Elders. On the first day they gave the historical background
about their indigenous people and the impact that contact had in
their country, culture and language. In the 1980s they realized
their language was at risk. They started teaching their grandchildren
in their garages. They applied for grants and eventually moved
into larger buildings. As their efforts continued, the public schools
gave the hard-to-handle Maori children to the private Maori schools.
These children achieved success by graduating from high school.
Many went on to attend universities. The sense of belonging and
self-esteem moved them to a higher level. The government noticed
the success of the private Maori schools and began to fund the
schools. Today Maori language is taught through the university
The next day Tuti and Roimata separated the Iñupiaq
language teachers while Jana Harcharek from the North Slope Borough
District met with the community. Each group came up with strategies
to keep our Iñupiaq language alive. Tuti let the teachers
vent and then asked us to dream of a perfect Iñupiaq language
school as if we were the administrators and in charge of the changes.
We decided that a private Iñupiaq Immersion school would
We would like to thank the Maori Elders for coming
to our cold climate to help us put our priorities into perspective.
children are learning to count in Iñupiaq. They can
count by 10s up to 100. They are learning the Kaktovik numeral
system.With No Child Left Behind, we can no longer teach total
Iñupiaq immersion. At best, we teach 50 percent Iñupiaq
and 50 percent English. English is required because they want our
schools to meet the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), which is measured
by testing in English. Therefore, English is being pushed in the
United States. If we are to start a private Iñupiaq Immersion
school, we would no longer be tied to NCLB.
It may be helpful for
parents to know that students taking Iñupiaq
immersion classes often do better in testing in their middle- and
high-school years. They may not do well during their elementary
school years due to not knowing English well. However, they grasp
English rapidly and later will do as well as peers who have not
taken immersion classes. In fact, most of them exceed beyond their
peers. This year former Iñupiaq immersion students won in
the middle school math competition, science fairs and the Bilingual
Multicultural Education and Equity Conference writing competition.
Their self-esteem is apparent and they are setting high expectations
We talked about children learning the language from
the time they are babies. The community people vowed to start teaching
to their children and grandchildren as much as possible. The young
parents, who may understand Iñupiaq but not speak it, committed
to taking Saturday classes to learn Iñupiaq. The daycare
center has shut down due to budget cuts. We discussed the possibility
of reopening it and teaching
only in Iñupiaq. This may be the starting place. Eventually
it could expand. The Paisavut Working Committee, which is a group
of Iñupiaq language teachers, has started meeting with the
Paisavut (Our Heritage) leaders to help make this dream a reality.
A Tribute to a Yup'ik Elder
by Esther Ilutsik
As a young girl, Helen Toyukak
remembers sitting in the grass near the abandoned village of Kulukak,
which was wiped out during
the 1930’s flu epidemic. She faces Qayassig or Walrus Island,
in Southwestern Alaska’s Bristol Bay region, and watches
a group of older children sitting in a circle with an Elder.
The Elder is juggling grass woven balls and chanting “Qayassiq
kan’a, Imutuq kan’ai ... ” in the Yup’ik
language. The chant ends and she continues to juggle until she
makes a mistake. A child takes the Elder’s place in the
game until each one has had a chance at this rhythmic play.
would like to recognize Elder Helen “Mauvaq” Toyukak
of Manokotak for her contributions and dedication to the documentation
of traditional Yup’ik knowledge. Helen willingly and unselfishly
shared her knowledge about grass baskets, the raiding of mouse
food caches and the traditional fancy squirrel parka. The knowledge
base that she shared is used by many of our Bristol Bay area teachers
and instructors in the classroom and at the university. Quyana
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
Olga Pestrikoff, Moses Dirks & Teri Schneider
Kodiak Island Borough School District
722 Mill Bay Road
Kodiak, Alaska 99615
pending at Tanana Chiefs Conference
Eskimo Heritage Program Director
PO Box 948
Nome, AK 99762
(907) 443-4452 fax
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.
This material is based upon work supported
by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0086194.
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations
expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and
do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science
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: Malinda
Layout & Design: Paula
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