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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 3, Issue 4, September/October 1998

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In This Issue:

Cultural Standards are on Their Way

Welcome Frank Hill, New Co-Director

Calendar of Upcoming Events

AISES Corner (American Indian Science and Engineering Society)

AKRSI Leadership Institute Maps Out New Initiatives

TCC Mentor/Apprentice Learning Program

Athabascan Region

Southeast Region

Iñupiaq Region

Students Sail Into Learning

Aleut/Alutiiq Region

Revival of Unanga{/Aleut Hatmaking: In Memory of Andrew Gronholdt

Yup'ik Region

Yupiit School District Yup'ik Immersion Camps

Village Science: Back to School

World Indigenous Peoples' Conference

Alaska RSI Contacts

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Cultural Standards are on Their Way

by Ray Barnhradt

The Alaska Standards for Culturally Responsive Schools are now available in the form of a booklet that has been published by the Alaska Native Knowledge Network, as well as on the Internet at The cultural standards were originally drawn up and adopted by Alaska Native Educators at a conference in Anchorage last February. In June the Alaska State Board of Education reviewed them and added their endorsement as well. Copies are now being distributed to all schools in Alaska, as well as to everyone on the mailing list for the Sharing Our Pathways newsletter, so they should be available to anyone who wants them by the beginning of the school year. Let us know if you need additional copies.

Standards have been drawn up in five areas, including those for students, educators, curriculum, schools and communities. These cultural standards provide guidelines or touchstones against which schools and communities can examine what they are doing to attend to the cultural well-being of the young people they are responsible for nurturing to adulthood. The standards serve as a complement to, not as a replacement for those adopted by the State of Alaska. While the state standards stipulate what students should know and be able to do, the cultural standards are oriented more toward providing guidance on how to get them there in such a way that they become responsible, capable and whole human beings in the process. The emphasis is on fostering a strong connection between what students experience in school and their lives out of school by providing opportunities for students to engage in in-depth experiential learning in real-world contexts. By shifting the focus in the curriculum from teaching/learning about cultural heritage as another subject to teaching/learning through the local culture as a foundation for all education, it is intended that all forms of knowledge, ways of knowing and world views should be recognized as equally valid, adaptable to the times and complementary to one another in mutually beneficial ways.

The cultural standards are not intended to produce standardization, but rather to encourage schools to nurture and build upon the rich and varied cultural traditions that continue to be practiced in communities throughout Alaska. Some of the multiple uses to which these cultural standards may be put are as follows:

1. They may be used as a basis for reviewing school or district-level goals, policies and practices with regard to the curriculum and pedagogy being implemented in each community or cultural area.

2. They may be used by a local community to examine the kind of home/family environment and parenting support systems that are provided for the upbringing of its children.

3. They may be used to devise locally appropriate ways to review student and teacher performance as it relates to nurturing and practicing culturally-healthy behavior, including serving as potential graduation requirements for students.

4. They may be used to strengthen the commitment to revitalizing the local language and culture and fostering the involvement of Elders as an educational resource.

5. They may be used to help teachers identify teaching practices that are adaptable to the cultural context in which they are teaching.

6. They may be used to guide the preparation and orientation of teachers in ways that help them attend to the cultural well-being of their students.

7. They may serve as criteria against which to evaluate educational programs intended to address the cultural needs of students.

8. They may be used to guide the formation of state-level policies and regulations and the allocation of resources in support of equal educational opportunities for all children in Alaska.

During the AKRSI regional meetings this fall we will be developing tools to assist educators in using the cultural standards to strengthen learning opportunities for students throughout Alaska, including their alignment with existing state standards and the identification of teaching and curricular practices that are consistent with their implementation. Curriculum resources, workshops and technical support to implement the kind of learning experiences encouraged by the standards may be found through the ANKN web site,, or call (907) 474-5897.

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Frank HillWelcome Frank Hill, New Co-Director

Frank was born in Iliamna, Alaska to Katie Trefon (Denaina) and William Hill. He has spent most of his youth, adult and professional life in the Iliamna Lake and Bristol Bay region. Frank attended schools in rural Alaska and received his B.Ed from UAF majoring in high school math and science education. He taught those subjects in the Anchorage and Bristol Bay Borough schools for nine years.

After receiving an Ed.M from Harvard Graduate School, he began his educational administration career with the Lake and Peninsula School District interspersed with a year of further graduate study at Montana State University. For the last ten years, Frank was the superintendent of the Lake and Peninsula School District retiring in June, 1997.

Dottie and Frank have three children, and one grandson. Frank and his family have been and continue to be Bristol Bay commercial fishers.

Frank hopes to utilize his education, professional and personal experiences and his dedication to improving education in rural Alaska in supporting AKRSI. He has been involved informally with the AKRSI since its inception, and has enthusiastically supported the project. "I am very pleased to become formally involved with AKRSI and will try to do as well as Dorothy M. Larson has done in supporting the efforts of the others working for the project."

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Calendar of Upcoming Events

September 17-18
Calista Elders Council Meeting
The Calista Elders Council Meeting will be held in Kasigluk, Alaska. Contact Mark John, (907) 279-5516.

September 24-27
Healing from the Four Directions 4th Annual Healing Conference
Held in Anchorage, Alaska at the Regal Alaska Hotel. Sponsored by Alaska Native Foundation and Providence Health System of Alaska. Contact Kathe Boucha-Roberts at (907) 261-5678 or visit the website

October 8-10
Alaska Native Education Council Annual Meeting
The ANEC annual conference will be at the International Airport Inn in Anchorage, Alaska. Contact Charles Kashatok, (907) 896-5011.

October 11-14
National Indian Education Association
The NIEA Conference will be held in Nashville, Tennesee. Contact Jennifer Welch, (615) 383-2247.

October 14-17
AFN Convention
The Alaska Federation of Natives Convention will be held in Anchorage. Contact Alaska Federation of Natives at (907) 274-3611.

October 25-28
49th Arctic Division Science Conference
"International Cooperation in Arctic Research: Detecting Global Change and its Impacts in the Western Arctic." Hosted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Contact Syun-Ichi Akasofu, (907) 474-7282. Website:

December 4-5, 1998
AISES International Science Fair
Contact Claudette Bradley-Kawagley for information, (907) 474-5376.

January 31-February 2 1999
Native Educator's Conference
Held in Anchoarge, NEC will provide the opportunity for people engaged in education that impacts Native people to come together and learn from each other's work and to explore ways to strengthen the links between education and the cultural well-being of indigenous people. Contact Lolly Carpluk for information, (907) 474-1902 or email

February 3-5, 1999
Bilingual Multicultural Education and Equity Conference
Held in Anchorage, contact Helen Mecrkens, (907) 465-8730.

Events, Conferences, and Dates

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AISES Corner (American Indian Science and Engineering Society)

by Claudette Bradley-Kawagley

The American Indian Science & Engineering Society (AISES) is a professional organization of American Indians and Alaskan Natives. For over eight years AISES has sponsored summer enrichment programs throughout the United States that have empowered indigenous students to increase their academic abilities, preparing them for careers in science, mathematics and technology engineering. During the summers of 1997 and 1998 AISES expanded its efforts to Alaska.

In the summer of 1997, 36 students entered a three-week program in Fairbanks, Alaska. The students spent eight days on the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) campus and 13 days at Howard Luke's Gaalee'ya Spirit Camp along the Tanana River. In the summer of 1998, 15 students entered a two-week program at Howard Luke Camp and 28 students entered a one-week program at Afognak Campsite in Kodiak, Alaska.

Camp Objectives

  • Stimulate interest in mathematics, sciences and engineering fields among Alaska Native students.

  • Increase student's confidence and knowledge in mathematics and science.

  • Prepare students for cultural challenges away from their traditional environment.

  • Incorporate Native values with Western mathematics and science.

  • Encourage parents to support the academic pursuits of their children.

  • Spend 14 days in an Athabascan camp located on the Tanana River just outside of Fairbanks.

  • Learn from Native Elders hands-on projects relative to rural survival.

  • Learn from UAF professors and the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative staff.

  • Work in teams of two or three students on a science project researching the natural environment.

Fairbanks AISES Camp 98

The staff at Howard Luke's Gaalee'ya Spirit Camp included six Elders, four resident advisors, one artist-in-resident, one UAF professor, one IBM computer consultant, two teachers, one graduate student and one AKRSI staff scientist, plus two cooks and one boat captain. There were seventh, eighth and ninth grade Alaska Native students from Allakaket, Beaver, Fort Yukon, Nenana, Nulato, Shageluk, Noatak, Barrow and Anchorage.

Each day students had two sessions in the morning; a project class after lunch followed by two sessions in the afternoon. Each day, 45 minutes prior to dinner was allowed for family chores and 45 minutes after dinner was allowed for cleaning the dishes. Evenings were for more social gatherings, traditional Athabascan dancing, Elders' storytelling, talking circles, volleyball, jump rope and Indian/Eskimo games.

During the four sessions the students worked in small groups of five or six students. They had a computing and mathematics class with Todd Kelsey, the IBM computer consultant; beadwork and yo-yo making with Elizabeth Fleagle and Elizabeth Frantz; cleaning and tanning caribou skin and tanning seal skin and beaver skins with Margaret Tritt; storytelling with Fred Alexander; and wood carving with Jonathan David. The groups of students rotated among these classes at the start of each session.

The computer lab had six Thinkpads (laptop computers) and one color inkjet printer donated by IBM. The camp purchased a solar panel powered battery generator to supply electrical power to the computers and printer. Todd Kelsey taught the students and staff how to use and care for the computers and printer. He also taught some mathematics topics like fractal triangles and fibonnacci sequence.

During the project class the teachers worked with students in small groups on their science projects. Students learned to turn their scientific questions into hypothesis. They wrote a procedure and selected the materials they needed with the guidance of the instructor. All students were asked to write questions about their projects for an interview with the Elders. Most of the students were able to do their experiments during the camp and a few will have to continue their research in their home village.

Each student received a display board and used the computers to write their hypothesis, materials and procedure and to make labels and data sheets. Students used a spreadsheet to record their data. Some students used the paint software to make drawings of their experiment. Students had to write a summary of their Elders' interviews and include the summary as part of their background information on their display boards.

All students completed their display board for the poster session held during the potlatch at the end of the camp. Many invited guests enjoyed seeing the hard work of the students.

Titles of student projects are:

River Eddies : Kristopher John, Fort Yukon

Heat Waves : Charlene Kallman, Anchorage

Why People Smoke : Mary Burns, Noatak

Caribou Teeth : Elmer Howarth, Jr., Noatak

Which Skin is Warmer : Jesse Darling, Nulato

Wolves : Cindy John, Shageluk

Clouds and Condensation : Sarah Monroe, Nenana

Antibacterial Effect of Arctic Plants : Crystal Gross, Barrow

True North vs. the Magnetic North : Adam Adams, Noatak

Fish Wheel vs. Fish Net : Natalie George, Nenana

High Kick : Claudia Demientieff, Allakaket

Bird Activity : Jedda Sherman, Noatak

What Do Camp Robbers Eat? : Mary Ann Juneby, Beaver

Fish Wheel : Liz Yatlin, Beaver

Reflections and Snowblindness : Patuk Glenn, Barrow

Students attended field trips in Fairbanks and at the university. They had a tour of the Geophysical building, which included the volcano and earthquake laboratory. They attended the Annual World Eskimo Indian Olympics (WEIO). They saw the movie "Mulan" in town and visited the shopping mall.

Prior to attending WEIO, an athlete, Melissa Evans, visited our camp and demonstrated how to do the high kick, leg wrestles and arm pulls. Students enjoyed doing them under her guidance.

Kodiak AISES Science Camp 98

The Kodiak Camp included nine classroom teachers of the Kodiak School District, three Elders and three teachers from the AKRSI teaching staff. The camp was located on the ocean front with lots of sea life. The teachers worked with students one-to-one on science projects, providing guidance and understanding of the scientific method. The students were in the fourth grade through ninth grade. There was more representation from the fourth and fifth grades.

We transported the computer lab to the Kodiak Camp and the teachers were very instrumental in getting the students to use the computers. All students wrote a title, hypothesis, materials and procedure for their projects. Some were able to use the spreadsheet to record data.

Students toured an abandoned village that had been ruined by a large tidal wave in 1964. Many of the Elders had relatives who had lived in that village. The campsite had an archeological dig near by. An anthropologist lived in the camp with the staff and conducted tours of their digs for all camp members. The digs included homes of Native people in the early 1800s.

Both camps were successful and had valuable experiences for the students. We successfully merged Native culture with explorations in science. Many students expressed a desire to attend the 1999 AISES summer camps.

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AKRSI Leadership Institute Maps Out New Initiatives

By Ray Barnhardt

Following the lead of the National Science Foundation, which hosted a National Leadership Institute in March, 1998 for representatives from the various state, urban and rural systemic initiatives around the country, the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative recently assembled a small group of leading educators from throughout the state to assist in the formation of an AKRSI "Leadership Development Plan." The purpose of the plan is to identify ways in which we can more effectively engage administrators and policy-makers at all levels of the educational system in furthering the goals and processes associated with the various AKRSI initiatives. Specific attention was given to strengthening the role of principals in supporting the implementation of culturally-appropriate, standards-based curriculum and providing a supportive policy and professional environment for them to do so. Further attention was given to the role of district and state administrative and policy-making structures as they pertain to the implementation of the Alaska Standards for Culturally Responsive Schools.

While considerable attention has been given to community engagement and ownership in the implementation of the AKRSI and to support for teachers to develop curricula and teaching practices consistent with the needs of rural/Native students and communities, less attention has been given to the role of the principal and other administrators and policy-makers in this process. Rural school administrators, particularly principals, are often situated in remote settings where they are isolated from their colleagues and have little opportunity for professional interaction around the issues they experience on a day-to-day basis. This professional isolation and lack of a collegial support system contributes to a high turnover rate of administrative personnel in rural schools, and thus a lack of continuity in leadership that can inhibit the potential for sustained innovation and initiative.

There is also a growing recognition of the need for more Native administrators with the skills to provide leadership in bridging the gap between rural schools and the Native communities they serve, and to provide the professional continuity that is needed to foster cumulative organizational learning that can bring stability and consistency to school reform efforts.

Furthermore, the adoption of Alaska Standards for Cultural Responsive Schools by Alaska Native educators in February, 1998 provides new guideposts and a process by which schools can evaluate their educational programs in reference to meeting the cultural needs of the students they serve. Administrators are in key leadership roles with regard to implementation of the cultural standards as a foundation on which to build rural school curricula and teaching practices.

Rural schools are grappling with the task of implementing standards-based curricula and performance assessments, meeting legislative mandates for high school graduation qualifying exams, responding to increased demand for community voice in school programs and accommodating increasing enrollments. At the same time they are also coping with significant budgetary constraints, all of which calls for the development of new support systems to assist administrators in making the structural changes that are necessary to respond to this rapidly changing leadership environment. Following are some of the initiatives that have been incorporated into the AKRSI agenda and will be factored into the strategic plan and budget for year four.

1. Develop cooperative links with superintendents, policy makers and legislators.
2. Assist Rural Educator Preparation Partnership (REPP) in preparation of local teachers.
3. Reactivate Native Administrators for Rural Alaska Program.
4. Support involvement of retired Native professionals in regional Native educator organizations.
5. Consolidate/strengthen rural higher education resources in support of rural schools.
6. Support Consortium for Alaska Native higher education and tribal college development.
7. Assist in implementation of the Department of Education (DOE) Native Student Learning Action Plan.
8. Develop joint Math/Science Consortium Rural Institute for site teams.
9. Co-sponsor statewide math/science conference, fall 1999.
10. Develop link with Elementary and Secondary Principals Association.
11. Explore joint initiatives with Alaska Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
12. Sponsor AKRSI workshops, poster sessions, etc. at administrators and school board events.
13. Support involvement of AISES professional chapters.
14. Propose alternatives to DOE for meeting state multicultural education requirement.
15. Co-sponsor Alaska Rural School Leadership Retreat with DOE.
16. Develop cultural standards self-assessment tools and poster.
17. Provide technical assistance and training for implementation of cultural standards by schools.
18. Offer AKRSI workshops at rural school in-services.

These are a some of the "leadership development" initiatives that we will be following up on as we enter year four of the AKRSI. We welcome further input or interest on the part of anyone with something to contribute to this effort, and we will be getting in touch with many of you as these initiatives evolve over the coming year. If you have comments or suggestions, please contact us through the ANKN web site, or call (907) 474-1902.

A hearty thank you goes out to the following people for taking time out of their busy summer schedule to contribute to the development of the AKRSI leadership initiatives:

Peggy Cowan, DOE/Science Consortium
Marty Foster, Math Consortium/teacher, Fairbanks North Star Borough School District
Chris Simon, principal, Yukon-Koyukuk School District
Larry LeDoux, principal, Kodiak Island Borough School District
Elmer Jackson, AKRSI Iñupiaq regional coordinator, Kiana
Amy Van Hatten, AKRSI Interior regional coordinator, Fairbanks
Paula Dybdahl, secondary teacher, Juneau School
John Monahan, Educational Leadership faculty, UAA/UAF
John Weise, superintendent, Yupiit School District, REPP Director
Ernie Manzie, principal, Fairbanks North Star Borough School District
Frank Hill, AKRSI co-director
Lolly Carpluk, ANKN
Dixie Dayo, ANKN

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TCC Mentor/Apprentice Learning Program

By Beth Leonard

Tanana Chiefs Conference, Inc. is currently developing a mentor/apprentice language learning program within four Athabascan language areas in the TCC region. The program is based on the adult language immersion model developed by the Native California Network; this model pairs a fluent Native language speaker (mentor) with an adult who wants to learn his or her Native language (apprentice). Immersion in this case means that the mentors and apprentices try to communicate only in the Native language.

A total of seven apprentices will be hired: three for Deg Hit'an and Holikachuk; two for central/lower Koyukon, and two for Upper Kuskokwim. Apprentices must take an active role in guiding the course of their learning. Mentors will work intensively one-on-one with their apprentice to help them develop comprehension and speaking skills (fluency) in one of the referenced Athabascan languages.

For more information about this program, contact:
Beth Leonard, Mentor/Apprentice Program Coordinator
Tanana Chiefs Conference, Inc.
(907) 452-8251, ext. 3286

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Athabascan Region

by Amy Van Hatten "Neggaat denlebedze" (Koyukon name)

How Does Water Change the Koyukuk River and Me?

There are many questions to ponder about the environment we live in. Here are two: How has the water changed the land? Why did our ancestors move from camp to camp? One way to try to find answers to such questions would be to look it up in a book. However, in reference to the question as to why our ancestors moved their camp, sometimes the answers are not in any textbook. There may not be anyone nearby who knows the answers either. Now what happens with your question? Where will you go in finding answers or ideas to understand what changes have occurred? As a way to explore these questions, let me convey a boat experience I recently had, with thoughts as to where relevant curriculum development could take place.

My first journey from Huslia on down the Koyukuk River was the result of an invitation extended to me by Steven and Catherine Attla. It was a journey through time as well as geography-back to the world as it used to be for two generations ahead of me. Both Steven and Catherine are devoted and knowledgeable Elders from the Koyukon region. I was ecstatic over the thought of seeing the Dulbi River and Nicholia Slough where my tribal identity originates. The morning of take-off the sky was overcast with dark clouds, but it never did rain. During the boat ride, I listened to the sounds of the water splashing along side of the boat, remembering safety instructions from short stories told by my Elder teachers. In listening to stories of days gone by I tried to imagine the kind of stamina our ancestors sustained during hard times as part of their survival skills in wild country. In addition to looking at distances and the flatness and windiness of the river, I wondered, how did our people successfully cross the waterways by walking on foot and using poling boats, dog teams and later by diesel-powered houseboats or 25 HP kickers (outboard motors).

Prior to leaving Fairbanks I bought topographic maps (revised in 1984) of the river. I was amazed to see and hear how the river has changed since my grandfather's youthful days of living in cabins that are no longer visible because of bank erosion. I marked on the map the vicinities of old gravesites long gone over the bank, fish campsites, old and new trapping cabins, shee fish spawning areas and where two meandering parts of the river carved right through the lowland providing two shortcuts. The Koyukuk River was unusually high, but without the swift currents of the Yukon River. Because of high water our trip was shortened by three hours. Usually sandbars take the most time to go around during low water levels. I also took along a camera, but left behind the tape recorder and camcorder because I knew the outboard motor noise would drown out any interviews. Therefore, I mostly relied on my memory when I was told historical facts about our Native people's endeavors just to survive.

We stopped at Dulbi Village to refuel and look around at old-timer Joe Notti's fallen log cabin walls. He used to have a store there around fifty years ago. There was a well-used moose trail right next to the log cabin, so we didn't hang around too long. We saw plenty of wildlife, beaver, moose, wolf, porcupine, eagle and hawk. I took pictures of tracks along the bank made by wolverine, fox, martin, porcupine (they looked like baby footprints) and moose. Seeing a hawk or eagle is considered a good sign for the day. I offered a bit of food out the boat window to the majestic bird's spirit. At the confluence of the Koyukuk and Yukon River is the Koyukuk Bluff community cemetery. As our gift of thankfulness to ancestral spirits watching over our journey, we offered bits of food and tobacco overboard as we passed the cemetery.

This one trip offered opportunities to get involved in all kinds of learning that could be the basis for curriculum projects in the school. Some possibilities include a place-names project, oral traditional stories, family genealogy, geography, soil conservation, animal science, wildlife biology, forestry, fisheries, ANCSA, subsistence economy, language immersion camps, traditional naming ceremonies, spirit of giving & preparations for different types of potlatches, Native spirituality, regional cultural atlas, cultural literacy, how to read weather, Native knowledge and survival skills in a harsh environment and understanding time management without a wrist watch. This is not an exhaustive listing. Let your own experience and imagination speak for itself. Good luck.

Thank you, Steven and Catherine Attla, for a wonderful trip and a lifetime of experience that words can not describe. I am still in awe of my short time on the Koyukuk River. Because of this I have a changed mind and way of thinking. A new sense of belonging has overtaken my whole being just through this first-hand experience in seeing the river of life that sustained my ancestors for generations. My cultural respect was enhanced as I listened silently to the river sounds.

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Southeast Region

by Andy Hope

Activities for the Spring/Summer of 1998

The Southeast Native Language Consortium met in Juneau, May 5-7, 1998. Approximately 50 people participated. The consortium has circulated a comprehensive report on the meeting, as well as a preliminary community cultural database, a mailing list and an inventory of teaching and curriculum materials (Tlingit, Tsimshian and Haida). The consortium is conducting a series of community language planning meetings in August and September and will host another regional planning meeting in Juneau on October 5, 1998. They are recommending that the Southeast Alaska Native Rural Education Consortium schedule their annual planning meeting to coincide with the regional language meeting. For information on the consortium, contact Shari Jensen at, phone (907) 463-4844.

Ted Wright, President of Sealaska Heritage Foundation, and I traveled to Sitka in late May to make a joint presentation on the Southeast Native Language Consortium and Tribal College planning. We were joined by Jimmy Walton, a leader of the Tlingit Kaagwaantaan Wolf House of Sitka. Mr. Walton is heading up a volunteer effort to recruit the support of Tlingit Clan Leaders for Tribal College planning efforts. A number of Haida and Tlingit clan and clan houses leaders have signed petitions of support. Walton, Wright and I also traveled to Haines in late June to meet with Haines and Klukwan tribal and clan leaders.

Rhonda Hickok (a Juneau-Douglas High School teacher), Esther Ilutsik (Ciulistet Research group and University of Alaska Bristol Bay Campus-Dillingham) and I presented a course on the cultural standards for the Summer Academy of Applied Research in Education in Juneau, June 11-12. Approximately 25 teachers and administrators participated. The Alaska Staff Development Center is in the process of developing a distance delivery course on the standards.

Oscar Kawagley, Nora Dauenhauer and I traveled to Hydaburg in June to meet with Lisa Lang and Woody Morrison of the Hydaburg Cooperative Association to discuss the Tribal Reawakening project. Hydaburg was recommended as the tribal reawakening site for the 1998 program year by the AKRSI Southeast Region Elders Council. We discussed the logistics of starting the project. The purpose of the project is to document the tribal history of the chosen community. The Hydaburg project should get underway in the early fall.

The revised Traditional Tlingit Country Map/Tribal List is in print. The poster can be ordered from Two Raven Gifts, P.O. Box 34482 Juneau, Alaska 99803, phone (907) 463-5305.

I am looking forward to the regional planning meetings and wish all of our consortium partners well for the coming year.

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Iñupiaq Region

by Elmer Jackson

The 1998 AKRSI Iñupiaq regional initiatives are Culturally- Aligned Curriculum and Language Immersion Camps. A workshop will be scheduled for late fall to plan continuing activities around these initiatives. The North Slope Borough School District will host an Iñupiaq Language Immersion Workshop, fall 1998. Memorandum of Agreement partners, Nome City School District, Northwest Arctic Borough School District and the Bering Straits School District will participate.

It is time for Elders, teachers and parents to guide and help students plan and organize their science fair projects. The Second Annual Native Science Fair will be sponsored by the NWABSD in November, 1998.

Welcome again MOA partners: the Alaska Department of Education, Peggy Cowan and the Alaska Science Consortium, Nanci Spear, who are continuing work in curriculum standards and assessment.

The North Slope Tribal College Consortium will be sponsored by Ilisagvik College. MOA partners, Kawerak, Inc., NWABSD and the Nome City School District, will participate in the Alaska Tribal Consortium to begin the planning process for the development of a Tribal College system in Alaska. Kawerak Inc., will prepare a higher education needs assessment for the Bering Straits region.

The Bering Strait School District will work with the St. Lawrence Island Yup'ik Academy of Elders with a focus on curriculum development.

The NWABSD will host a district-wide Academy of Elders and Teachers in a Subsistence Curriculum workshop. In this workshop, lesson units will be created for teachers. These units will reflect the subsistence practices of the Iñupiat people in the Kobuk River region. The knowledge gained and the way of teaching will be the focus on the development of these units. The Subsistence Curriculum workshop will be held in Kotzebue, October, 1998. MOA partners NSBSD, Nome City School District and BSSD will participate.

Rachel Craig of the NWABSD will be working on a genealogy project. A workshop for bilingual teachers, focusing on "A Family Tree Gathering" will be held in October in Kotzebue.

Reminding parents, teachers and students that the Second Annual Native Science Fair will be held in Kotzebue, November 1998. This is in association with the activities of the districts' American Indian Science and Engineering Society high school chapters. Students from schools in the Iñupiaq region will enter their science fair projects. Grand winners will participate in the nationals. Grand winners from the nationals will compete in the International Science Fair, 1999. Both locations are yet to be announced. Student participants have the opportunity to receive scholarship monies for future college careers.

Welcome Iñupiat region MOA participants in the implementation of AKRSI goals. Welcome, also, to Frank Hill, new co-director for the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative. Thank you Dorothy M. Larson for your guidance and direction. Taikuu!

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Students Sail Into Learning

by Cheryl Pratt

The wind blew through our hair as we walked down the snow-patched beach and paths that left the village behind. We had hoped for a warmer afternoon but we were glad that longer days had returned allowing for more opportunities for outdoor activities. The snow had melted considerably and my seventeen kindergarten students, classroom aide Stella Ningealook and I followed the snowmachine tracks and sandy areas around the great pools of water which lead to the rows of fish racks lined along the shores of Sarichef Island.

Our trek brought us to Clifford Weyiouanna, a respected village Elder and resident of Shishmaref, Alaska who had agreed to meet us there. Beside him, resting upside down, was his large boat frame upheld three feet high from the ground on two driftwood stands. The wooden structure, about 16 feet in length and nearly 6 feet wide across the center is held together with nails and metal rings. The wood is notched in places to keep the joints tight. Hanging in small black strips from beneath the nails we found remnants of the skin that had been used to cover the frame, long ago cut away. The children ran their hands across the dark strips of wood and easily slipped under the nearly seventy year old upside-down skeleton. They peered through the openings and explored the underside touching nearly every part. Independently and in small groups, some children role played through their experiences of boating, hunting and fishing. Some quietly explored the surrounding area, comfortably exploring a small creek which ran beside the boat and last year's tall grass standing among the green spring shoots.

After a short period of exploration the kids began to ask Cliff some questions about the boat. They wondered how it could ever float and what happened to the seats. Clifford did not answer their questions at first and smiled at the humor he found within them. He enjoyed watching them play while carefully giving attention to their safety. Clifford began by answering some of their questions and then using the questions to lead into further information and discussion. The children were interested and very responsive adding in comments of surprise and appreciation. Clifford described the covers that were used to wrap the frame. He spoke of the times he ventured out in the boat with his family as a five-year-old boy and showed the students the part of the boat that he used to sleep in near the bow. He talked about the number of people involved in the outings and the length of time they would stay out. He remembered the hunting, the work, the roles each person assumed.

Cliff talked of oars, motors, metal, wood and skins as he told the children how his boat differs from boats of today. He described the importance and benefits of flexibility in a wood and skin frame. He stressed the amount of work and effort it took to construct such a boat and the costs of today's boats along with their pros and cons.

Cliff told of how he has become the owner, having the boat passed down to him from his father and expressed his desire to someday restore the boat and take it out once again into the sea. He told the children that the boat belongs in the water and that someday he would like to see it again riding the waves, heading out for a hunting trip. The way in which he spoke made one feel as if the old boat would journey again someday.

The boat had long pieces of wood laid through the ribs from one side to the other. Cliff showed them how these rods are used for drying racks in the summer and fall by placing a tarp over the frame to keep out the rain and the birds.

The students had a few more questions for Cliff. They wondered if he wore his lifejacket and what he hunted for? They wanted to know when he was going to take the boat out again and if they could go with him? They wanted to know how to make a boat and asked me if they could try.

The children told us about some of their boating experiences. They talked about their boats and their speed. Some of the children knew the brand and number of their motors. They spoke about fishing and camping and picking berries up the river. They talked about their fathers and uncles and grandfathers going hunting.

After a time of more playing and exploring Cliff asked us if we would like a ride back to the school. We accepted and loaded in his long wooden sled pulled by his snow machine. He drove out onto the still frozen Chukchi Sea and we bounced along back toward town. We all thanked Cliff and told him good-bye.

Back at school the children worked with different types of media to make boats out of wood, pipe cleaners, metal, foil, cloth, paper and clay. We tried some of the boats in the water table to see if they would float and used marbles to see how much they could hold. The day had proved to be very interesting and fun.

Several days later, the children still discussed their new-found insights during conversation and continued to improve their model boats, enabling them to float better and to hold more weight.

We enjoyed working with Cliff and appreciated the opportunity to incorporate more of the Native culture into each day as Clifford served as a vessel of knowledge on that special day.

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Aleut/Alutiiq Region

by Leona Kitchens

Camp Qungaayu{ was held at Humpy Cove, approximately five miles from Unalaska. Unangan and Unangas Elders, Native educators, and 21 students from the Unalaska City School participated in the place names camp.

Activities that took place included bentwood hat making, study of local plant lore, seal butchering, fish preparation and preservation, boat safety/Iqya{ (kayak) demonstrations, archeological digging and basket-making.

Unalaska students interviewed Elders to find out how the camp was traditionally used. The recorded interviews are to be incorporated on a CD-ROM that was made a few years ago. The CD-ROM includes interviews with Elders from this area as well as the Kodiak area.

Unangan language teacher, Moses Dirks, and AKRSI regional coordinator, Leona Kitchens, offered a first-time course designed to teach teachers how to incorporate Unangan's cultural knowledge into their classroom curriculum. A major portion of the course was participation in activities and interviews with Elders at Camp Qungaayu{. In the course, which ends December 22, students will attend six audio conferences, write a brief review of several readings and write an informative article about the camp or biography about Elders. Students will also be asked to construct a 10-day, culturally relevant curriculum based on the cultural standards (formulated by the Native educator associations across the state and recently adopted by the State Department of Education and also on the state content standards for education.

The camp was very well attended and so many folks did so much to make the camp the success that it was. We wish to thank everyone who lent a helping hand, but foremost we wish to thank the Elders who took their precious time and energy to teach our youth with such depth, beauty and grace.

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Revival of Unanga{/Aleut Hatmaking: In Memory of Andrew Gronholdt

by Jerah Chadwick

In 1791, an Unanga{ man named Chagudaan Qa}adusanax, Being-Happy-For-His-Hat, lived in Unalaska. Perhaps he was a child when the Russians first came or was born during the tumultuous early contact period. In his lifetime, he may well have seen the number of his people halved, with approximately 20% surviving at the time of Seward's purchase.

We know Being-Happy-For-His-Hat's name because he survived long enough to be counted in an early Russian census. We also know that the beautifully painted and adorned, full-crown bentwood hats were in great demand as trade items. Many such hats are prized possessions of museums throughout the world. However, no old, full-crown hats or open-crown visors remain in their Aleutian homeland. Much of the knowledge of how to make and decorate them had been lost, and only a few had been made in the last 50 years.

Today, bentwood hats and visors are again being made, the result of a resurgence in Unanga{ culture and of individual artists reclaiming traditions. This process has been assisted by the contributions of scholars, such as Dr. Lydia Black, whose books Aleut Art and Glory Remembered offer examples and insight into the bentwood art.

Prominent among contemporary bentwood artists was Andrew Gronholdt, who died in March, 1998 at the age of 82. A Qagan Tayagu{ (Man of the Eastern Aleutians) from the Shumagin Islands, Gronholdt is largely responsible for the revival of hatmaking in the Aleutians.

Gronholdt began researching construction methods in 1985, after the death of his wife, Elizabeth. This process involved extensive reading, consultations with experts such as Northwest Coast Art specialist Bill Holm, and hands-on examinations of visors and hats in museum collections. Drawing upon his background as a wooden boat builder, Gronholdt worked out the varying degrees of thinness required to bend flat boards into visors or full-crown hats. He also designed jigs and molds for forming short and long visors.

Gronholdt's visors are featured in numerous collections, including those at the Anchorage International Airport, the Unalaska City School Percent for Art, the Shumagin Corporation and the Aleutian/Pribilof Islands Association.

Gronholdt regularly shared his expertise. He was a featured presenter at the 1988 Bentwood II Symposium held at UAF. He demonstrated and displayed his work at the Anchorage Museum of History and Art, and he taught high school and university classes in St. Paul, Sand Point, King Cove and Unalaska, as well as elsewhere in the state. Since Gronholdt's death, classes have been held in Akutan and Unalaska, taught by his former students, and in each class a picture of Gronholdt was placed to overlook the bending station.

As a result of Gronholdt's work, a new generation of people have been inspired to create their own visors and hats. What was once an important badge of identity is making a comeback; and surely, Being-Happy-For-His-Hat would be pleased that, this time, many hats will remain in their Aleutian homeland.

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Yup'ik Region

by Barbara Liu

Waq qakemkuut, kiak iqukvanguq uksuaryartungluni. Caliamni upnerkarnirnek ayagavkenii yagarcetenritua. Maa-i elitnaulriit ayagnirniaraata caarkat amlleriinarluteng. Uumi quyurteliyallruunga ak'ag agaavet Sitka-mi elitnaurutkiulriit ilagarluki. Caarkat tamaani elitnauristet kangingnaurluki taringnariluki mikelngurnun ayagyuanun-llu paivtellerkaitnek.

Uksuarmi arcaqalriik piarkak qanrutekciqagka. Elitnaurviit ilait ilagauciiqut upluteng elitnaurateng kangingnaullerkaatnek yuut qaillun ilakellrat, nunam-llu cikiutai kangingnaurluki qaillun piullratnek, ilait-llu tayim nani nunallret uitaciit kangingnauryugngaluki. Nunameggni tegganret wall'u angayuqateng apqaurluki ukut ilaitnek piarkauluteng. Uksuaqu cali Amiirairviim nalliini quyurtaalriit pamani Kassiglumi cali ilagarciqanka. Calistet Tegganrit ayagyuanek ilaluteng quyurciiqut arcaqalriit paivvluki ciuqvaarni yuullrat watuam-llu nalliini ayuqucirput.

Ayallruunga unavet Unalaska-ami Tegganrit ayagyuamegnek ilaluteng quyurtellriit paqlluki cali tayim piyunaqkuma qavatmurciiqlua Sleetmiunun. Tamaani qanemciit tape-ani kuumalriit niicugniyarturluki nunallret-llu atritnek tamaani calilria yugtun ikayuqeryarturluku. Qaaritaami tangruskumta amaani AFN-aalriani atauwauciquq. Uumiku igaqumci tayim qaillun makut caarkat ayallratnek qaneryugngaciqliunga. Tua-ingunrituq, Mak

Hello, it's the end of summer and getting close to autumn. Without any work travel since last spring, it's been great! With a new school year approaching, things are picking up. I recently went to an Assessment Institute in Sitka where teachers from all over the state worked on improving science standard assessment.

Two important events coming up. The Family History Computer Training will be held in September with some regional schools. Teachers will participate on ways to incorporate exploring family trees, nature, mapping old sites with recordings of stories and photos, with their students. The second event is in September, where I will participate with the Calista Elders/Youth gathering up at Kasigluk where various topics will be compared ranging from traditional methods of living to present day.

I attended the Unangan Elder and Youth Culture camp August 10-14 in Unalaska. A trip to the village of Sleetmute is planned, where I will listen to Yup'ik Elder documents and help with the Yup'ik orthography of historical sites in the Holitna River area. Hope to see you at the AFN Elder and Youth Convention in October. Until next time, Barbara

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Yupiit School District Yup'ik Immersion Camps

by Sophie Kasayulie

The Yup'ik Immersion Camp started in May with instructors Marie Napoka and Ruth A. Napoka in Tuluksak and Gertrude Lake and Debbie Jackson in Akiak. Mary M. George and Mary Ann Lomack instructed in the Akiachak camp. A fishcamp unit that was developed in the Yupiit School District was used as a curriculum guide. The instructors made daily plans using the guide, starting the day with attendance, pledge and a daily calendar of activities in the Yup'ik language.

In visiting the sites it was encouraging to see students at work learning about their culture, doing hands-on activities, stringing smelts to dry and listening to the teacher speaking only in the Yup'ik language. The Elders were the key people teaching students in the classroom and outdoors about the Yup'ik lifestyle. The Elders participating were John Peter, Elijah Napoka and Lucy Demantle from Tuluksak; Mary Ann Jackson from Akiak and Frederick George, Olinka George and Elizabeth Peter from Akiachak.

The crafts made in Akiak were qaspeqs and headdresses made of felt and beads. The day we were in Akiak, the students were stringing smelts to dry and hung them at John Phillip's fishcamp. All the students were given willow strands tied together and then they proceeded to fill them with fish hooked through the gills. In Tuluksak the students made qaspeqs, sewing by hand and later finishing with sewing machines. The crafts made were displayed at the gathering of the students which was held in Akiak.

In Tuluksak, the older boys and girls were taken to a campsite where they built a fishrack and smokehouse. The site of the immersion camp will be the permanent place for students to traditionally prepare fish for the cold winter days. Since the nets and the uluaqs were made last year, the nets were ready to be set and the older students learned the best fishing areas to set them. The Elders and instructors took the students on an excursion and studied local plants that grow around the area. They collected plants that are edible and medicinal. The main plant in the area, rhubarb, grows plentiful on the bluffs of the high ground of the tundra. Tuluksak brought a huge pan of rhubarb akutaq to the gathering feast. The medicinal plants were given to the Elders that came to the gathering of the students in Akiak on June 10, 1998. The students displayed crafts and served traditional food at the potlatch. Each site attending the gathering performed for the audience and listened to the Elders give speeches, telling students and parents how important our language is to our culture. Parents commented that they would like to speak more in Yup'ik to their children.

The highlights of the program in Akiachak were collecting tundra plants and rhubarb from the bluffs on the Kuskowa River, making three five-gallon buckets of suluunaq (salted fish) for the school, and going to Mary M. George's fishcamp and actually cleaning and cutting fish. The students were given instruction on how to make tepa, fermented fish heads, a delicacy of the Yupiit. We also brought in dried fish to the smokehouse and put away half-dried fish for the school. Frederick George, an Elder in Akiachak, taught students to fish and learn about the actual fishcamp life. Mr. George taught survival skills before the students were taken on a trip to the bluffs. The Elders in each community were willing to share their knowledge and worked with the students as they learned more of their language and culture.

One problem we encountered occurred in Tuluksak when we found out we were building a fishcamp on someone's Native allotment. In the future we will work directly with the corporation and land owners to establish fishcamp sites in each village.

In order to reach all the students enrolled in the school we need to have an immersion school during the school year. I feel it is important for each student to learn about the culture and to learn more about the language. We included young parents with pre-school children who came to help their children make qaspeqs and identify plants that were gathered from the field trips. We need to include more parents in the Immersion program and get them involved in their children's learning.

I have learned with the students; I have become more appreciative of my surrounding and still want to learn more with them. How fortunate our students are in this time and age. I would like to thank the Elders for all their participation and time spent with the students, as well as the parents for letting their children attend the immersion camps.

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Village Science: Back to School

by Alan Dick

By the time they arrive in the headwaters, male dog salmon have large teeth that become badly enmeshed in a net. I spent hours and hours carefully extracting them, trying not to tear the net.

I told the old man about my frustrations. "You have to know how," was all he said.

A few days later, I was very tired, having worked at a mine all day and having fished all night. I spent more time wearily taking fish out of the net than I did with the net in the water.

I always keep a wooden club in the boat to dispatch the livelier fish so they don't flop and tangle the net once it is hauled into the boat. I took the club and angrily pounded the dog salmon's teeth in abject frustration. To my utter amazement, the teeth easily fell off the jaw, and the net was released. Within minutes, club in hand, I removed the rest of the fish from the net.

The next morning I told the old man of my discovery.

He said, "That's how."

His way of teaching didn't always include answers. He told me there was a way, but carefully avoided disclosing it. I had found the method, but wished the answer had come through reflective scientific thought rather than anger and frustration.

Several months later his son, Antone, and I were getting driftwood from the huge piles that accumulate on the river banks and sandbars. We were quite pleased with ourselves. We were dead tired but in two days had rolled almost eleven cords of wood into the river, lashing and spiking them into a raft.

We were using peaveys to roll the logs to the water. Farther back, the logs were drier, and of better quality, but the distance was becoming great between the driftwood pile and the river. One log took almost half an hour to roll to the beach.

Later in the second day, the old man arrived in his little boat. He walked across the sandbar with his cane and a length of rope. He didn't say anything, but limped on arthritic knees up to the log. He wrapped the rope around the log.

Holding the bottom of the rope in his left hand, he pulled the top of the rope with his right hand that also clutched the cane. The log rolled forward at least two feet. The old man hopped backward, shifted the rope, and pulled again. The log continued to roll. His method worked so well the log almost ran him over. He tangled the rope in his cane a few times, but, within five minutes, the log was in the water.

Antone and I leaned on our peaveys, breathing hard, wondering why he had waited two days to arrive.

As the butt of a log is bigger than the top, none of them roll straight to the water. When his log misaligned with the river, the old man placed a large stick in the sand directly in front of the log's center of gravity. He rolled it onto the stick and effortlessly pivoted the log straight towards the river again.

Without a word, he went to the driftwood pile and started a fire. We got the hint, quickly packed water, and retrieved his grub box from the boat. We talked about the weather, the geese moulting and other matters, but never mentioned logging as we sipped tea and ate homemade bread.

He packed up the grub box and left his three-legged tracks to the boat. Antone and I were tired, and a bit deflated. "Next year," we said, "we'll do it right." Mechanical advantage, leverage, friction, center of gravity, physics. They were always there, but their best application eluded us until he came.

Since that time, over thirty years ago, I have several times stepped up to a log, wrapped a rope around it, and pulled the top end. The young guys look in amazement as I roll the log as fast as I can walk. My effort is less dramatic, as I lack the cane, yet the effect is still there. Village science is practical and transferable.

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From the archipelago of Hawai'i, to all of you, greetings!

Please join us for the 5th triennial World Indigenous Peoples' Conference on Education to be held in Hilo, Hawai'i from August 1-7, 1999. Na Po'e Hawai'i, the indigenous people of Hawai'i, invite you to participate in this unique assembly, dedicated to learning by traditional methods and stimulating discussions.

Workshops and discussions are being planned around the Island of Hawai'i so you can meet our people and share in our rich history and perspective. E komo mai, come and be a part of this memorable event.

Conference registration will be limited to 5000 delegates

Phone: (808) 934-7722
Fax: (808) 969-7932
Web Address:
E-Mail address:
Postal Address:
P.O. Box 6159
Hilo, HI 96720-8923

January 1-December 31, 1998

Presenter Proposals Due
December 31, 1998

Late Registration
January 1-April 30, 1999

No Registration
After April 30, 1999

July 29-August 2, 1999

Pre-conference Workshop
July 30-July 31, 1999

Conference Dates
August 1-7, 1999

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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
5230 Fairchild Avenue
Fairbanks, Alaska 99709-4525
(907) 474-0275 phone

Elmer Jackson
Iñupiaq Regional Coordinator
PO Box 134
Kiana, Alaska 99749
(907) 475-2257

Andy Hope
Southeast Regional Coordinator
University of Alaska Southeast
School of Business/PR
11120 Glacier Highway
Juneau, Alaska 99801
(907) 465-8776

Barbara Liu
Yup'ik Regional Coordinator
Box 2262
Bethel, Alaska 99559
(907) 543-3467

Leona Kitchens
Aleutians Regional Coordinator
P.O. Box 921063
Dutch Harbor, Alaska 99692
(907) 581-5472


Ray Barnhardt
University of Alaska Fairbanks
PO Box 756730
Fairbanks, AK 99775-6730
(907) 474-1902 phone
(907) 474-5208 fax

Oscar Kawagley
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) 274-3611 phone
(907) 276-7989 fax

Sharing Our Pathways 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.

We welcome your comments and suggestions and encourage you to submit them to:

The Alaska Native Knowledge Network
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Harper Building
P.O. Box 756730
Fairbanks, AK 99775-6730

(907) 474-1902 phone
(907) 474-5208 fax

Newsletter Editor: Lolly Carpluk

Layout & Design: Paula Elmes

Up to the contents



Go to University of AlaskaThe University of Alaska Fairbanks is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and educational institution and is a part of the University of Alaska system.


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