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

Sharing Our Pathways

A newsletter of the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative

Alaska Federation of Natives / University of Alaska / National Science Foundation

Volume 1, Issue 1, February/March 1996

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In This Issue:

Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative Gets Underway

Challenges in Alaska Native Education Today

Influences Learned in Behavior

Baidarkas, Booths, & Multi-Cultural Adventures in Learning

UAF Cross-Cultural Orientation Program for Teachers

ANKN on the World Wide Web!

Athabascan Regional Events & Activities

Inupiaq Regional Report

Yup'ik/Cup'ik Regional Report

Southeast Regional Report

ARSI Staff Provide Strength and Support

Alaska Native Science Commission

Alaska RSI Contacts


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Sharing Our Pathways is the title chosen for this (ARSI) newsletter. Esther Ilutsik, of the Ciulistet group, suggested the name and here is what she has to say:

Sharing Our Pathways:All the participants involved in the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative have a well-worn pathway to share in their area of expertise. When we share and connect all those pathways together, we will have established a strong foundation in which to preserve our self-identity. We can then pass on our cultural knowledge to future generations.

Quyana cakneq,


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The Adventure Begins...Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative Gets Underway

by Dorothy Larson

An exciting and innovative joint cooperative effort between the Alaska Federation of Natives, the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the National Science Foundation has been awarded and is up and running. The project is funded through the NSF Division of Educational Systemic Reform with first year funding at 2.1 million dollars. An annual plan must be submitted for approval and funding for each of the next four years.

There are many questions about the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative (ARSI). There are new acronyms to learn which we hope over the next five years will become familiar to students, parents, school boards, educators and many others in rural areas and across the state. We hope this project will impact the students first in a very positive way.

Just what does this educational reform initiative mean to Alaska Native students living in rural Alaska? How will changes be initiated? Who will be involved? How will we measure change? These are just a few questions; more will be raised as we move ahead. First, I will try to provide some background information for you so that you will know how this initiative came about.

In 1992-93, the National Science Foundation funded two Alaska Native Science Colloquia, jointly sponsored by AFN and UAF, as a result of several meetings attended by educators and administrators from public schools and universities, students, parents, community members, scientists, Native organization representatives, elders, the State Department of Education and others. Over thirty recommendations concerning science and math education resulted from the Colloquia.

NSF then provided funding for a developmental award to AFN and UAF to develop a plan to implement educational systemic changes in rural Alaska with the assistance and the expertise of many of the same participants at the Colloquia and others. This group became the catalyst for the Alaska Native/Rural Education Consortium (AN/REC) which will advise and play an integral part in the Implementation plan which we now call ARSI.

ARSI is one of four funded by NSF in the United States. There are state systemic initiatives and urban systemic initiatives. The four rural systemic initiatives are charged with implementing plans for science, math and technology improvement in rural areas. Three of the initiatives will have a Native-American focus; the fourth is in the Appalachian area. Though there are other NSF-funded projects in the state, this is the only systemic initiative. Other systemic initiatives are funded through the United States Department of Education in which many districts are currently involved-Goals 2000. AFN is also involved in a Goals 2000 project which you will hear more about soon.

The objectives of ARSI are

  • to increase the presence of Alaska Native people-their knowledge and perspectives in all areas of science and education in rural Alaska;

  • to integrate Native ways of knowing and teaching compatible with the needs which can build a foundation for all learning;

  • to develop curriculum models responsive to the cultural makeup of communities which are consistent with science education standards at the state and national levels;

  • to document indigenous knowledge systems in the cultural regions to serve as a basis on which culturally appropriate practices can be built;

  • to create more appropriate learning environments for the integration of Alaska Native Elders and traditional knowledge as resources for all educational programs;

  • to demonstrate the everyday uses of science in village life;

  • to improve the quality and increase the quantity of Alaska Native students pursuing careers in science and related fields;

  • to develop an infrastructure to make more effective use of technology to expand learning opportunities in rural Alaska;

  • to increase Alaska Native parental involvement in all aspects of their children's education;

  • to strengthen Alaska Native self-identity and to recognize the contributions of Native people;

  • to improve Alaska Native students' academic performance in science and

  • to integrate the above objectives into the fabric of rural education on a self-sustaining basis without NSF/RSI support after the year 2000.

These objectives are lengthy and very ambitious. However, in order to initiate change, there must be community involvement in the process. These objectives were based on recommendations of many local, regional and statewide community meetings over the years, which were taken into consideration by the first Colloquia and in the AN/REC meetings. There was a review of the many reports such as the Alaska White House Conference on Indian Education, the Alaska Native Commission Report, the legislative reports on Native education, research and findings on Native education, national reports such as the Indian Nations At Risk and many others. You will see on the chart illustration that is included in this newsletter (page 8) the five major initiatives: Native Ways of Knowing and Teaching, Indigenous Science Knowledge Base, Elders and Cultural Camps, Culturally Aligned Curriculum Adaptations, Village Science Applications and Careers and the Educational Technology Infrastructure. You will also see how they will be implemented in the five cultural regions over the five-year period: Inupiaq, Athabaskan, Aleut, Southeast and Yup'ik areas.

AFN is an advocacy organization and has not been involved in programs per se for many years. With the support and encouragement of the AFN Board of Directors, the administration and the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the developmental and implementation phases were successfully awarded to AFN receiving the highest ratings by reviewers.

The educational reform initiatives are special five-year funded projects. Reform initiatives are meant to initiate reform from a local level which will have long-lasting, far-reaching impacts on the educational system-in this case for Alaska Native students. Communities will be involved in ways that will provide for participation in creating change which will impact student learning and achievement in science and math and all other areas in culturally appropriate ways.

This is just an overview of the project. We will report on regional activities in the future. The sixth initiative is the technology infrastructure which all regions will be involved in concurrently.

Regional coordinators are hired in four of the regions. We are entering into memorandum of agreements with school districts, the State of Alaska Department of Education, rural campuses, cultural organizations and others for the first year of the implementation plan.

The project has three co-directors: Dorothy M. Larson, who is the Executive Vice President of the Alaska Federation of Natives; Dr. Oscar Kawagley of the Interior Campus at UAF; and Dr. Ray Barnhardt of UAF.

Dorothy Larson at AFN will be responsible for the overall administration of the project serving as a link between AN/REC and AFN. Larson is a recent UAF graduate with many years involvement in educational initiatives-as a school board member, advisory member of many university boards and committees, involved in Native affairs at a local, regional, state and federal levels and in many different arenas other than education. She has served on the State Commission for Human Rights, Board of Regents for the Haskell Indian Nations University, Governor's Education Task Force, regional corporation board of directors for Bristol Bay Native Corporation, BBNC Education Foundation vice chair and founding member as well as being involved in her family and community. She was raised in Dillingham and continues to maintain a close link with rural Alaska. Larson worked as a legislative information officer for the state for ten years prior to her work at AFN, where she has been for five years.

Dr. Oscar Kawagley will be responsible for coordinating the three regional initiatives under the Alaska Native Knowledge Network in the cultural regions and will serve as the link to Elders and other cultural resources essential to the success of the project. He teaches university courses that are related to the project. Most recently he taught the successful statewide television course Native Ways of Knowing. Dr. Kawagley is a key resource person for the project-many of the principles and concepts come from his book: A Yupiaq World View, Pathways to Ecology and Spirit. Dr. Kawagley has also taught in the public schools, worked in the corporate world as the CEO for the Calista Corporation and serves on a number of national and international organizations. He is an excellent ambassador and advocate for the integration of Native knowledge with equal validity and recognition as Western scientific knowledge in the curriculum of rural schools. Dr. Kawagley received his Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia in 1994. His own personal knowledge and experience will provide the necessary leadership in guiding this systemic reform initiative.

Dr. Ray Barnhardt of the University of Alaska Fairbanks was instrumental in the ARSI project's development leading up to its implementation. He has lived in Alaska for over twenty-five years and his work at the university has focused on rural and Native education. He has been active in encouraging Alaska Natives to become teachers and administrators and has sought to introduce innovation into teaching practices. He has extensive experience working with the Native community and has received special recognition for his efforts to improve rural and Native education. He serves in a variety of roles in state, national and international organizations, and recently served on the Alaska Natives Commission Education Task Force. Dr. Barnhardt will be responsible for coordinating the various regional initiatives as they are implemented in each cultural region. He will serve as a link to the University of Alaska to provide training and research support for the project. He will continue to teach courses at the University and serve a portion of his time on ARSI.

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Challenges in Alaska Native Education Today

by Rachel Craig

The following is a presentation given by Rachel Craig to the Alaska Native Education Council, October 16, 1995 Ladies and Gentlemen:

Thank you for inviting me to speak to you today. It is a real honor to stand before an assemblage such as yourselves-a group that is involved in molding the lives of our children through education, a group expected to set wise priorities and do the right thing in the face of dwindling available monetary resources.

We fondly look back on the days of our grandparents and great grandparents, and time and distance make their time seem an idyllic life. In some ways it was; but every generation has their challenges. Theirs was physical survival. Always gathering and hunting for food for themselves and their dogs to amass enough storage to last them another year to sustain life. They taught and lived the subsistence way of life which was their sole way of living. They had no other options. They celebrated their good fortunes with feasts and dancing, sharing the good times and helping to temper the bad.

The inventive mind of mankind has given our generation new technologies to make our day-to-day life easier with more leisure time to pursue our interests. If that's all it was, we'd really have it made. But our challenges in life are varied and have drastically increased since our great-grandparents' days. Alcohol and drugs and the abuse of them is prevalent in our society, influencing the making of sound judgments. Child and sexual abuse of minors fill the court calendars-children that we adults are responsible to protect and raise to upstanding adulthood. Very young adolescents are having children that they don't quite know how to raise, adding more responsibilities to the grandparents, not to mention the psychological burden placed on these children. Better jobs require training and education and stick-to-it-iveness, and the percentage of our own people in positions of responsibility and trust seem nil or absent. I know we were blessed with just as much intelligence as any other people, and I think it is worth examining what we are doing today.

Let me direct your attention to our federal and state governments. The federal debt is much larger than some of us can count to. In trying to address solving that issue, many familiar programs are being questioned, down-sized, or not funded. The state revenues are dwindling, following falling prices of crude oil. In order to keep some of our own regional projects viable, we in the NANA region have had to get innovative with our own fund raising efforts because funding from the state legislature is no longer reliable. The economic belt is getting tighter and tighter all around.

Let me tell you a little of what we are doing in the NANA region. We are by no means perfect, but we are trying to do something about our problems together.

We have a program in our region that addresses the one-sided education system. All of the studies in our schools were of the Western culture as they are in most of our State. In order to balance the curriculum and to send a message to our youth that our own culture is OK, that to identify with us older generations is honorable, we have done several things.

We developed curriculum and are teaching our language and culture in the schools. I don't know that it has helped the Native language fluency of the students, but at least it is there. We have also instituted five Inupiaq Days during the school year-in September, October, January, February, and April. Our Inupiaq experts are all volunteers from the community. This program is so good for our youth; they are so proud to have their grandmothers and grandfathers teaching in the classroom. After Inupiaq Day, the students have more pride in themselves, their family, and their community. There is less truancy and vandalism, and the grades go up. Our elders are so proud to volunteer their knowledge and pass it on to the youth. They love the elementary grades because the students are so open and interested.

These Inupiaq Days are then fortified with a camp experience of a week in the summer. We did not get funding for this camp from the state last year, so our coordinators held biathlons and sock hops to make enough money to buy T-shirts that our children love to wear. All the instructors at the camp are elders and they volunteer their time and skills, from the camp director on down. I love their commitment! Organizations and businesses donate what they could in response to solicitations.

Children from ages seven through high school are given the privilege to experience summer camp at Camp Sivunniugvik along the Northern delta of the Kobuk River, and we are now requesting payment of a camp fee from the parents to help defray expenses. For families who cannot pay the camp fee, we seek donations from the local businesses.

The Upper Kobuk people have also established Camp llisagvik for the Upper Kobuk villages. This will free up more space for the other children at Camp Sivu. We share our camping manual with the Upper Kobuk people so they could be thinking about all the personnel who will work at the camp and also about the topics that will be taught to the youth.

The Kotzebue Elders Council is also working with our local IRA to establish a coastal camp where seal hunting and food preservation and preparation will be taught to young people who never had an opportunity to learn these skills because their parents had to work in town. We are also sponsoring a skin-sewing class once a week this year for the benefit of the community and our elder women are the instructors. We also will offer to teach fishnet making and mending. Even some of our elders say that that is one skill that they would like to learn, too. I would also like us to respond to the need of our middle generation to learn the nuances of the culture and have some place to go at least one night a month. But we feel that the middle generation has to make a commitment if that's what they want. The elders will respond, as they say, whatever good thing the younger generation wants to know of us we are duty-bound to teach them.

This economic squeeze has caused our regional organizations to cooperate more closely and pool their resources and do what they have to do in their realm of influence and responsibility. This means the NANA Regional Corporation, Maniilaq Association, the Northwest Arctic Borough, and the School District all work together. It's really great to see our bosses cooperating and those of us who do the actual work don't have to tread the floors hesitantly or lightly when we are on their premises. We feel more confident because we see our bosses working with each other and we are enjoying working with each other, too, pooling our skills together and sharing our outside contacts.

Many times the community expects the school to teach everything, including our Native language and culture, to the students. I personally think that the school needs to reinforce these subjects in school because our students feel anything taught in school is culturally accepted. But those subjects are best taught by the parents and the community if they still know how. We have all experienced the attack of our language and culture by well-meaning teachers in our growing up years. Some regions almost lost the language and really do need help.

In our region, I feel that the only way that the language will stay with the people is for the community to become involved. Those who know the language must speak it publicly, make it an accepted cultural practice. I know how difficult it is to raise a child when the parents of the child's peers have not made a commitment to do otherwise. It is easier for our children to bow to group peer pressure. We are so lenient with the TV programs that our children watch that we don't take them to church or week-day religious classes like our grandparents did with their children. For us, group teaching is strong. Then the other children know the expectations of the parent generation upon their children. There is nothing as strong as peer pressure. I think parents know this.

In my observation of each succeeding generation, there is a marked influence toward the westernization of each succeeding generation. Western civilization is swallowing us up, and more so our grandchildren. Those generations that have not benefited from the wise and continuous counseling of their grandparent generations are preoccupied with the here and now. They want expediency. They have not learned to care about tomorrow, or next week, or next month, or next year, and much less about their connections with the eternities. I think they are ignorant about individual sacrifices for the benefit of the group and want their individual benefits right now because that's what they are being taught in school. I think our educators need to bone up on the philosophies of their Native heritage so they can teach about the contrasting cultures. Neither is bad, but they are markedly different. Teach correct principles and let the individual learn to think and make his own choices as he matures. Then he will be responsible for his choices.

Today, I am supposed to be talking about the Wisdom of the Elders, Power of the Parents and Strength of the Students. If the elders or parents don't exert their prerogatives early and strongly, we will have raised a generation of spoiled children. In the western culture, you let your children go when they are eighteen or twenty-one. My son is thirty and occasionally I still have to exert my influence over him to do the right thing in the strongest possible ways. Maybe that's the Native way. We never stop caring or loving. We always expect the best. We give the best. When we find that the youth are listening to us and are doing the right thing, it is worth it. It makes us so proud we wonder why other people can't see our wings.

My title in the Northwest Arctic Borough is the Inupiat Ilitqusiat Coordinator. As some of you know, Inupiat is our collective name for ourselves as Native people in North and Northwest Alaska. Ilitqusiat has to do with our spirit-that power which motivates us. Some mistake the program to mean that we are trying to get them back to using the old Inupiaq technologies and clothing. If that's what they want to do, more power to them. There's nothing wrong with learning to use them. But when you learn the spirit of our forefathers, you have to learn the philosophy-why they tell us not to make fun of others, why they help the helpless, why they share, why they don't boast about animals, why they live the way they do, why the mothers make sure we know our family trees, etc. It is the spiritual part of you that becomes the daily lifetime habit of your attitude toward others and the environment around you.

Thank you for asking me to speak to you today. May God bless you and yours as you strive to do your best.

Rachel Craig is the Inupiat Ilitqusiat coordinator for the Northwest Arctic Borough in Kotzebue, Alaska. In that position, she is centrally involved with the culture and language of the Inupiat in her region. She was president of the Kotzebue Elders' Council for the past five years and vice president and secretary for the NANA Regional Elders' Council. She currently is president of the Inuit Elders' International Conference within the international body of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference.

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Influences Learned in Behavior

by Martha Stackhouse

As a child, I learned many Inupiaq values that were taught to me by my grandparents. They were the ones who seemed to have the most time to spend in teaching.

My aaka (grandmother), Pamiilaq Lucy Aiken, was a widow. Her husband Johnny had long been dead before I was born. My aaka Lucy would sew Eskimo yo-yo's to make some money and send me out to sell her goods to the tourists. If I was successful in selling them, she would pay me my commission for each item. Like the whalers who whale for their shares, I received a share of the commission that was just for my efforts. She was deeply religious and was very active in church. She would tell us to be kind to each other, especially to be compassionate to those who are less fortunate than we are. We should not join in with the crowd who make fun of them. Instead, we should talk to them and try to be friends. The one thing I remember her for is her robust laughter as the extended family gathered around to eat Sunday lunches of maktak and frozen whale and fish after church. She died when I was in the third grade.

My grandparents from my mother's side lived in Wainwright. I would go see them every summer after whaling celebrations. My aaka Kunnaan was extremely patient with her "city granddaughter from Barrow" who did not know much about washing clothes by hand (because we had electricity and washers), whose sewing was never tight like hers as I attempted to sew with her, and did not know how to cut up meat or skins-all of which she was required to know about since she had become an orphan at a very young age. She was taken in by the Charles Brower family when she was about seven years old and they raised her until she was of marrying age. Patience is what she taught me. I was a tomboy and had better luck with my aapa (grandfather), Michael Kayutak. Qayutak was his Inupiaq name and he was given a Westernized last name of Kayutak. Because of the Western concept of last names, each of my grandfather's brothers carry different last names since they used their own Inupiaq names. My aapa

The concept of not boasting was so imbedded in me that I had problems when I interviewed for jobs. I found out that in the Western world, I had to talk about my accomplishments in order to land jobs. This was not regarded as being boastful. In addition, I had to practice speaking up as I was extremely shy around those whom I did not know very well.

Today I require my students to give oral reports after accomplishing their research papers. I also talk to them about job interviews. Another thing I had to practice was to say "no" as I found that too many people were starting to take advantage of me because they knew that I would get the task done. I was starting to bum out. I was thinking of the community rather than myself. We are taught that we should better ourselves to serve the community. However, I realized that I needed to take care of myself and my family in order to serve the community better.

Lastly, I was taught by two Native teachers. My first teacher was Flossie Panigeo Connery in the kindergarten class. She would interpret Inupiaq into English and vice versa. Whenever I look back to those days, I am amazed at her accomplishments. We were students who did not know a word of English and by the end of the year, she had us reading the Dick, Jane and Sally books. The only reason I remember this accomplishment is because when we entered the first grade, the newly hired teacher was absolutely amazed that we could read. Her husband, who was the principal, came down to hear us read. All of her students stood up to read orally, one right after the other. The other Native teacher I had was Fred Ipalook in the second grade. He would have math up front on the board that we had to do first thing in the morning while we ate our government subsidized breakfast of peanut butter and honey on crackers with powdered milk. He also taught us how to read music and play the plastic flutes. Both teachers had taught for many, many years. My father had both of them as teachers when he went to school. Both teachers were extremely strict and demanded our attention as they taught.

I do not profess to say we should be selective in hiring only Native teachers. However, Alaska Natives have been through a tremendous change in a short period of time. They say we have gone through two hundred years of change within a twenty-year span. I believe that the Native teachers or those non-Natives who have grown up in the rural areas of Alaska would know how to communicate with the students better. There is a desperate need to hire certified Inupiaq teachers as there are only a handful of them who teach in the villages. They are capable of teaching Inupiaq values since these values were taught to them by their parents and grandparents. We need to start graduating our young with efficient skills to succeed in the working world. The students need to learn about modern living as well as living their cultural heritage. They need to learn their cultural values to survive in the modern world.

Martha Stackhouse was born in Barrow, Alaska. Ikayuaq is her Inupiaq name. She grew up knowing how to run dog teams since there were no cars. She went to Wrangel Institute when she was in the seventh grade and then to Mt. Edgecumbe High School-both of which are located in Southeast Alaska, hundreds of miles away from Barrow. She went to college but left before acquiring a degree. She and her husband became interested in counseling and worked as homeparents in the group homes and receiving homes for a total of five years. The turning point in her life to become a teacher was when she witnessed a school play offered by a reading enrichment program which was geared for above average readers. All of the participants were non-Inupiaq students who had lead roles such as doctors and lawyers. The only Inupiaq student was given the role as a patient. She has taught for twelve years in the North Slope Borough School District and encourages her students to become leaders. The last two of those years were spent teaching Alaska Studies and Inupiaq Studies through Distance Delivery-a satellite communications class from Barrow to the outlying villages. Ikayuaq is currently on sabbatical leave to work on her masters in education in the field of curriculum development for secondary education in Inupiaq studies.

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Baidarkas, Booths, & Multi-Cultural Adventures in Learning

by Fred Deussing


The students of Nanwalek Elementary/High School are exploring new learning ventures in their picturesque seaside village of 170 Sugpiaq Native people nestled among the southern Kenai Peninsula's magnificent snowcaps.

Upon returning from their Russian Orthodox Christmas vacation the end of January, the nineteen, eighth through twelfth grade students will begin constructing three Native baidarkas of the type used by their ancestors in the past as a vital part of their everyday subsistence culture. With funding provided by the English Bay Corporation and guided by Nanwalek's social science teacher, Dan Harbison, community volunteers will join students in this "hands on" Alaska Studies curriculum project to share their expertise in keeping with Nanwalek's school and community belief, "It takes a whole village to educate a child".

Upon completion, the baidarkas and other Native crafts made by Nanwalek's students and community members will be taken, along with their neighbors' in Port Graham, to the 1996 Alaska State Fair. The students will gain first-hand experience employing their entrepreneurial business skills in marketing their Native crafts to the estimated 300,000 visitors expected to visit the fair this summer. Nanwalek's students would like to extend the opportunity to any of their peers who would like to participate in this school fund raising enterprise by marketing their Native crafts at our fair booth on a consignment basis. Interested schools can contact Nanwalek's principal, Fred Deussing, for details at 281-2210.

Finally, Nanwalek's students would like to begin utilizing their technology skills with other Native students across Alaska by engaging in joint, multi-cultural projects via cyberspace. Project STUDENT (Students Together Understanding Different Endemic Native Traditions) envisions a variety of cultural awareness and reinforcing educational experiences whereby students communicate via e-mail in sharing their respective Native languages, customs, history and beliefs in joint learning projects. STUDENT's goal is to promote cultural appreciation and respect among new cyberpals along the way. Although presently limited to a single e-mail account, the students are ready to launch out on such a venture, and are looking for some STPs (STUDENT Technie Pioneers) to join them. They can be contacted via e-mail at, or by calling Fred at the phone number listed above. Any "brave" STPs out there?

Awa ai,
Fred and the Sugpiaq students of Nanwalek Elementary/High School

Fred Deussing is originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and entered the teaching profession in 1970 after serving four years in the United States Marine Corps Air Wing. Except for a six-year hiatus from the teaching profession, when he was employed as a manager/stockbroker, he has been an educator in Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, Colorado and Alaska for the past twenty years. Prior to his appointment as the principal/teacher at Nanwalek, he enjoyed teaching science to students in Galena. Fred, his wife Lori and their three-year-old son Grant thoroughly enjoy spectacular surroundings, and all the many new friends they have made in their "Camelot by the Sea".

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University of Alaska Fairbanks Cross-Cultural Orientation Program for Teachers

June 24-July 12, 1996
Fairbanks Campus/Old Minto Cultural Camp

The Center for Cross-Cultural Studies, University of Alaska Fairbanks will be offering the annual Cross-Cultural Orientation Program (X-COP) for teachers, beginning on June 24, 1996 and running through July 12, 1996, including ten days (July 1-10) out at the Old Minto Cultural Camp on the Tanana River with the Athabascan Elders of 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 ten days 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.

Course, Credit and Instructor

The X-COP program is offered for three semester hours of academic credit and is designated as ED 610, Education and Cultural Processes. The credit is applicable toward the UAF M.Ed. degree, as well as the Alaska certification renewal requirement of three semester hours in multicultural education. The course may also be followed with two on-site graduate courses offered during the fall and spring semesters to help integrate what is learned in the summer into teaching practice. The instructor for the course is Ray Barnhardt, Ph.D., who has over twenty-five years of rural and Native education experience in Alaska.

Information on housing rates and applications may be obtained from the UAF Summer Sessions office (474-7021) or the Housing Office (474-7247).

Enrollment Information

Anyone wishing to enroll in the X-COP program should contact one of the UAF College of Rural Alaska campuses (in Kotzebue, Nome, Bethel, Dillingham, Barrow and Interior), the Center for Cross-Cultural Studies (474-6431), or the Summer Sessions office in Fairbanks (474-7021) for enrollment forms. For further information, call 474-6431, or send e-mail to

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ANKN on the World Wide Web!

The Alaska Native Knowledge Network is happy to provide you with up-to-the-minute information on current projects, resources, and other information pertaining to the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative. Just open up your Web browser and type in our URL (no spaces):

Take a peek and then share your ideas and opinions with us. You can respond directly from the page or send an e-mail to: Thank you!

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Athabascan Regional Events & Activities

by Amy Van Hatten

Greetings Everyone!

I know time is of the essence, so I am trying to make it count the best way I can, as time allows.

For starters, I am honored to be here working with a diverse group of intellectual people who enhance and share the same interest.

An exciting adventure I have familiarized myself with, too, is the e-mail system. It provides an easy way to notify national and state 4-H associations and rural Alaskans of my transition in the workplace.

My work areas consist of a shared office with Lolly, Nastasia and Paula. We are "cozy friends." The other site is my home computer center. A personal collection of books on my Athabascan culture give my ARSI library source a good start.

My list of contacts is on the up side since I will be working with most of the same resourceful people I had come in contact with through 4-H. Other tasks include gathering data, reading ARSI handouts (I am behind), organizing a new filing system (using a laundry detergent box right now) and keeping a mental log of contacts I made during the holiday season. Informing rural people about my new roles and responsibilities was fun. Their response was delightful, which pleased me in knowing I would have their support in the future.

I have packaged the Village 4-H Clubs/Camps videotape on to the Inupiaq regional coordinator with instructions to forward it to the next person on the list, which is Barbara Liu. Hopefully, by the time we meet in Anchorage, everyone that is interested in viewing it would have done so already.

Even though phone conversations have taken place with the Denakkanaaga Elders' program director and the cultural heritage camp director, letters and more meetings will follow.

I had to postpone the Jan. 4-5 regional meeting dates to an undetermined date. Everyone's calendar is filling up. (Transition is slow for me, from one unfinished job to a new position, 'course I don't intend to use that as an on-going excuse.)

I will attend the Bilingual/Multi-Cultural conference in February for the first time ever. I once passed through their display tables when my mother was a Native Education instructor and she attended the conference.

I am hoping to have most of my "ducks" in a row by the time our annual Athabascan Month (March) approaches. In tow, I will have to partake in the Tanana Chiefs Conference and the Doyon Limited Convention.

I have agreed to hold a workshop on the characteristics of young adults likened to our elders-on giving comparable information on what makes us different, insightful, critical thinkers, etc. or, on the other hand, unconventional, short term goal oriented, noncommittal and such that we'd like to get away from. I am sure you have ideas to add to the list for discussion or as a way to produce an awareness program, or even ways to become more inclusive instead of exclusive. Nastasia and I are still in the planning stage. This concludes my report for now.

I am honored to be selected as the new Athabascan Regional Coordinator, a position I am sure I will enjoy for the next five years. (What a great way for me to start the new year.)

My husband and I have three children living at home. I have many blessings to be thankful for, beginning with how fortunate I feel to have my adoptive father, Ralph Nelson, and biological mother, Lillian Olin, to call on for advise, enthusiasm and to answer to my cravings for more interactive learning and sharing of Alaska Native knowledge. The pride and self-confidence they have instilled in me has enriched my life as well as my children's along with the hope of giving back to others.

Through my new job I will thrive in being around our most precious resource-our Elders. Together we will interactively document our Native life skills and practices that predates Western contact and have a chance to share with Indigenous people from all over the world.

Commitment to my heritage and Elders has been a front runner my whole life. I come to you as a highly motivated and committed worker with the hopes of gaining more understanding for many other cultures. Almost nine years ago, Tanana Chiefs Conference 4-H office, National 4-H Council, and our state 4-H association, as youth organizations, gave me the beginning, which I am thankful for also.

You may contact me at this phone number: (907) 474-1902. My address is: Amy Van Hatten, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Alaska Native Knowledge Network/ARSI, P.O. Box 756730, Fairbanks, Alaska 99775-6730.

Until we meet again, or for the first time, happy trails to you and your family.

Best wishes,


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Iñupiaq Regional Report

by Elmer M. Jackson

I see my job, per the memorandum of agreement, as assisting school districts in the Inupiaq Regions and providing support for documentation of Village Science activities. This documentation will serve as the basis for teaching science and math in the schools.

I will assist in establishing a high school chapter of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) in each of the districts. Through this society, village science applications and careers will be implemented and Alaska Native science fairs will be planned.

Involvement of our Elders in the various projects is important. Others include parents, math and science teachers, Native studies teachers and other resource people.

We feel that teacher training is critical for the Village Science Initiative. I will be working with Alan Dick and Sidney Stephens of the Alaska Science Consortium to develop a publication for Inupiat Village Science.

One of the ideas is to develop the Inupiat village science curriculum-textbooks, workbooks, and teacher guides-for use in the classroom. Elders, teachers and other resource people will be involved in planning and developing the curriculum. Oscar Kawagley stated that "the Yupiaq people are doing science when involved in subsistence activities. So we must utilize the indigenous knowledge in the development of the village science curriculum." On page six of Native Pathways to Education (Dr. Kawagley's book) is a list of indigenous knowledge systems that will be considered in the implementation of the curriculum project. This project will involve the documentation of science used in village life. We will develop ways to utilize the local environment to teach science. One of our benchmarks is to have scientists and practitioners contribute to the educational program at each school in the district, similar to the Artists in Residence program.

I will also assist already formed Elders' Councils and help others get started in communities where councils do not already exist.

I was born August 11, 1951 at Kiana, located on the Kobuk River. I attended Kiana Elementary, Chemawa Indian School and Hartford High at White River Jct., Vermont. In 1971, after graduating from high school, I attended UAF and received my B.Ed. in elementary education. My first job was as a principal/teacher at Kobuk Northwest Arctic School District. I taught grades 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 until 1984. After teaching, I worked as a manager for Kiana Traditional Council, Kiana Elders Council Coordinator and Administration for Native Americans Coordinator.

I enjoy fishing, hunting and trapping. My favorite hobby is traveling. Questions can be directed to me at P.O. Box 134, Kiana, Alaska 99749.

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Yup'ik/Cup'ik Regional Report

by Barbara Liu

The Yup'ik cultural region I will help coordinate, under the NSF/RSI project, covers a large geographic area approximately twenty-five thousand square miles southwest of Alaska. It is still home to it's original people, the "Yupiit" and in a small area, "Cupiit." Many permanent communities are now situated along rivers such as the Yukon, Kuskokwim, Nushagak, or Kvichak and tributaries as well as along the Bering Sea coast.

From the mouth of the Yukon, where it spills out to the Bering Sea, Yukon communities stretch inland to Russian Mission. Two school districts serve about twelve communities on the Yukon.

Along the Kuskokwim that spills out to the Kuskokwim Bay, communities stretch inland to Chauthbaluk. Three school districts serve about thirty communities on the Kuskokwim and it's tributaries including Nunivak Island community in the Bering Sea. Another isolated Yup'ik community in the eastern part within the Kuskokwim Mountains is served by an interior school district.

On the Nushagak and it's tributaries, communities stretch inland to Koliganek from Nushagak Bay. Two school districts serve more than eight communities including Togiak Bay communities.

From Kvichak Bay which connects to Illiamna Lake, communities spread inland to Igiugig and to Nondalton beyond Illiamna Lake. Two school districts serve about fifteen communities including some Alaska Peninsula communities.

One school district serves a coastal community near Hooper Bay and all the others are served by other districts I mentioned.

More than sixty southwest communities are served by ten public school districts. This large area is also served by two Native health organizations, regional Native corporations, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks' rural campus. It is home to a large wetland reserve and rural communications network.

This year, a region-wide effort to develop Yup'ik/Cup'ik math and science curricula will begin. Some documentation of Native oral history and relevant curricula have already begun within the area. In addition, relevant staff training models will be developed with two of the largest school districts-Lower Kuskokwim and Lake and Peninsula School District and Kuskokwim and Bristol Bay Campus. Charles Kashatok, Larry Hill, Cecelia Martz and Esthur Ilutsik represented Lower Kuskokwim School District, Lake and Peninsula, Kuskokwim Community College and BBC at the December consortium meeting in Anchorage.

In the next few weeks I plan to get in touch with all the school districts, health organizations, corporations, media and area federal agencies in an effort to find out what's available and assess what we can focus on future collections.

Thank you for your help with this project. Tua-ingunrituq! My home office mailing address is Barbara Liu, Yup'ik Regional Coordinator, Box 2262, Bethel, Alaska 99559.

My name is Barbara (Nick) Liu. I recently joined the ARSI team as the Yup'ik Regional Coordinator. I am from the Kuskokwim and grew up between Nunapitchuk (forty air miles northwest of Bethel) and Bethel. My immediate family is well known throughout the delta and likewise have many extended relatives from the Kuskokwim and southwest coastal villages. Camai and hello to all.

In my formal schooling, I completed studies to become a certified elementary teacher and after that taught in K-12 schools for five years. I am married with three children living in Bethel for eight years now. Several years ago, I resigned from teaching to be home with my two small children. On a part-time basis I continued to teach Positive Yup'ik Parenting for adults.

I am honored to be back in the work force with wonderful and exciting people and projects. My office is located at 231 Akiak Drive with a mailing address of P.O. Box 2262, Bethel, Alaska, 99559. I'd like to hear from anyone willing to collaborate with this project.


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Southeast Regional Report

by Andrew Hope

I have been spending time learning as much as I can about the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative (ARSI) project. I was unable to attend the December staff meeting due to a medical emergency. My final day at my former job at the Bureau of Indian Affairs turned out to be December 22, 1995, the day before my birthday. My first day on the job for the ARSI project was Christmas day. I finally met the ARSI staff on January 2 and 3 in Fairbanks and have slowly been tying names to faces.

On January 11, I met with Peggy Cowan and Nancy Spear of the State Department of Education; Sidney Stephens of the Alaska Science Coalition and Richard Dauenhauer of Sealaska Heritage Foundation. We agreed to schedule the first regional council meeting for late March, in conjunction with the third Tlingit clan conference. We discussed the fact that some details have to be worked out on the memorandums of agreement with the schools in this region. We will contact the schools once these details have been worked out.

I met with Marshall Lind, Chancellor of University of Alaska Southeast (UAS), on January 9 and 12. Chancellor Lind has graciously agreed to provide me with an office at UAS. I am very grateful to Chancellor Lind and UAS. My phone number at UAS will be 465-6263, the fax number is 465-6383. My home phone number is 790-2164, and my home fax number is 790-5509.

I am looking forward to working in this exciting program.

Upcoming events:

  • February 15-16, 1996. Juneau. A meeting of village heritage organizations, hosted by Sealaska Heritage Foundation.

  • A Tlingit "payoff" memorial for Daisy Fox Guanzon Hanson will take place in Juneau in February

  • March 28-30, 1996. Ketchikan and Saxman, the Third Conference of Tlingit Tribes and Clans

Andrew Hope was born in Sitka, Alaska to the Tlingit tribe with a clan affiliation to Sik'nax.a'di (Grindstone people). His Tlingit name is Xaastanch and his moiety is the wolf. His clan house is X'aan Hit (Red Clay); his Father's clan is Kiks.a'di and tribal affiliation is Sitka Tribe of Alaska.

Andrew received his B.Ed. in Cross-Cultural Education from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1979. He has served as a board member of the Before Columbus Foundation from 1988 to the present. The following are selected publications Andrew has had the opportunity to work on:

  • Founders of the Alaska Native Brotherhood, 1975, David Howard Memorial Fund

  • Raven's Bones, a collection of writings on the tribal cultures of southeast Alaska, 1983, Sitka Tribe of Alaska

  • Editor: Raven's Bones Journal, news of the Native community (two issues per year have been published since 1993), 1986-present

  • Conference Chair: The Conference of Tlingit Tribes and Clans, Haines and Klukwan, 1993

  • The Second Conference of Tlingit Tribes and Clans, Sitka, 1995

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ARSI Staff Provide Strength and Support

As well as the three co-directors working on this new project, we have an extended staff working out of both the Alaska Federation of Natives' offices in Anchorage and the University of Alaska Fairbanks' Harper Building in Fairbanks. We'd like to introduce them to you:

Gail Stelling

Gail is the daughter of John and Shirley Stelling of Dillingham, Alaska. She graduated from Indiana University, with a bachelor of science degree in business administration, and a minor in finance. She completed an internship with KPMG Peat Marwick LLP, which was sponsored in part by Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation

As Gail states, she is very excited to be a part of ARSI and working with this project. She was a Native Youth Leadership awardee, and hopes that the Youth are involved with this project inasmuch as the elders, with all respect.

Gail holds the administrative assistant position based in the AFN office in Anchorage. She is responsible for the reimbursements of funds, arranging travel for meetings, providing information and support for Regional Coordinators and ordering equipment and supplies. She is responsible for the accounting and budget control of the grant as well as other administrative tasks that arise.

Lolly Carpluk

Hello, my name is Lolly Carpluk. I am from Mountain Village along the Lower Yukon. My family (husband and three children) and I moved to Fairbanks three years ago, so that both my husband and I could attend the university.

I recently began my job as a project assistant. My main responsibilities will be to gather articles for this newsletter that the ARSI project will be publishing (so far the plan is bi-monthly). I am excited about what people will be sharing with each other via the newsletter-especially in the area of rural and Native education. Hopefully, this newsletter will connect rural and Native educators on what each is doing in the area of incorporating indigenous knowledge into the school curriculum.

Please feel free to contact our office on potential articles for the newsletter. I can be reached at the Fairbanks office at 474-1902. Quyana.

Nastasia Wahlberg

Hi, everyone! It's great to be working with highly motivated people who have the same interests in helping our people. My husband's name is Kevin and we have two children: Teresa and Flossie. We moved to Fairbanks so I could finish my B.A. in English, minor in Alaska Native Studies. In the past three years I have been fortunate to provide translation for the Ciulistet Yup'ik Math and Science project. I have previously worked in various capacities from clerical to professional positions in the health field, community college, native organizations, pipeline, federal government and, more importantly, as a subsistence gatherer and commerical fisherman/helper.

Upon realizing the need for more hands-on workshops to supplement our training, Ray, Dorothy, Oscar, and I are styling our statewide meetings to have time for conducting both business and training. At our February ARSI staff meeting in Anchorage, we will spend the first day meeting and the second day in training. During the first half of the day, Rachel Craig will train us on property rights and gathering and documenting Elders' knowledge. The next half will be with Paula Elmes who will train us on the Internet and our computers. The Interior Campus will host our April 12-13 ARSI Staff Retreat/Consortium meeting with a focus on Interior Elders and camps.

My responsibilities are to assist in the regional coordinators in their daily activities. A concern for the start-up phase of this project is to provide orientation and training for the RC's and that they begin to establish a rapport with the community members they will be working with. We hope to keep the projects small and manageable in order to accomplish our goals. The Regional Coordinators will be our eyes and ears. They will also coordinate with those holding Memorandum of Agreements with us as well as attempting to meet the needs of our people. Consequently, the rest of us need to pull for them and with them. Call me any time. Tua-i, Quyana.

Paula Elmes

Hello, my name is Paula Elmes. I will be working on this project as a graphic designer and production assistant. I live in Fairbanks with my husband and two children. We have lived here for the past seventeen years and are still in awe of the beauty and the wonder of this state.

I am pleased and honored to be a part of this project. Over the course of the next five years I will be helping, in a visual way, to present the information gathered on this project. That information will become available to you in many different ways including newsletters, books, monographs, the World Wide Web, multimedia CDs, and other ways we haven't even thought of yet! I'll also provide computer support for our regional coordinators as they familiarize themselves with their computer systems.

I'm currently working part-time with much of my time spent working on my computer at home. However, I do have an office located in the Harper Building (UAF) that I share with Lolly, Nastasia, Amy, and Ray. Please feel free to call me at 474-1902. I'll be happy to talk with you and share what's coming up in the future.

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Alaska Native Science Commission

In October 1993, the Alaska Federation of Natives Annual Convention passed a unanimous resolution to support the creation of an Alaska Native Science Commission (ANSC). During 1994, a series of workshops were held with community leaders, elders, scientists and researchers, to discuss the formation of the ANSC. Recently, the AFN received a three-year project funding from the National Science Foundation to establish the ANSC.

Patricia Longley Cochran, an Inupiat from Nome, was hired as Executive Director of the Alaska Native Science Commission. The ANSC is a jointly sponsored project of the Alaska Federation of Natives and the University of Alaska Anchorage. The ANSC office is currently located on the campus of the University of Alaska Anchorage.

The mission of the ANSC is to endorse and support scientific research that enhances and perpetuates Alaska Native culture, and ensures the protection of indigenous cultures and intellectual property. The goals of the ANSC are to

  • facilitate the integration of traditional knowledge into research and science,

  • participate in and influence priorities for research,

  • mandate participation of Alaska Natives at all levels of science,

  • provide a mechanism for feedback on results and other scientific activities,

  • promote science to young people,

  • encourage Native people to enter scientific disciplines and

  • ensure that Native people share in economic benefits derived from their intellectual property.

The ANSC is currently reviewing existing programs and gathering information from resources involved in Alaska Native research. The ANSC will be seeking nominations for a seven-member board of commissioners to direct the organization.

For further information regarding the ANSC, please contact:

Patricia Longley Cochran
Executive Director
Alaska Native Science Commission
3211 Providence Drive
Anchorage, Alaska 99508
phone: (907) 786-1368
fax: (907) 786-1426

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Alaska RSI Contacts

The Alaska RSI Regional Coordinators are located in five regions within the state of Alaska. They are listed below to help you identify the correct contact.

Amy Van Hatten
Athabascan Regional Coordinator
University of Alaska Fairbanks
PO Box 756730
Fairbanks, Alaska 99775-6730
(907) 474-0275 phone

Elmer Jackson
Inupiaq Regional Coordinator
PO Box 134
Kiana, Alaska 99749

Andy Hope
Southeast Regional Coordinator
University of Alaska Southeast
School of Business/PR
11120 Glacier Highway
Juneau, Alaska 99801
(907) 465-6362

Barbara Liu
Yup'ik Regional Coordinator
Box 2262
Bethel, Alaska 99559
(907) 543-3457

Moses Dirks
Aleutians Regional Coordinator
Alaska Federation of Natives
1577 C Street, Suite 201
Anchorage, Alaska 99501
(907) 274-3611

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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
Questions or comments?
Last modified August 16, 2006