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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 6, Issue 3, Summer 2001

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In This Issue:

AKRSI Holds Forum on Culturally-Responsive Curriculum

Native Education Advisory Council to the Commissioner

New Graduate Program Emphasizes Indigenous Knowledge

Our Clothing, Our Culture, Our Identity

Contaminants Have Found Us

Athabascan Region

Alaska Indigenous Peoples Academy

Elder Highlight: Tribute to Oscar Nictune Sr.


Iñupiaq Region

Eskimo Heritage Program: Kawerak Board Report, March 2001

Aleut/Alutiiq Region

The Academy of Elders/Science Camp 2001

Yup'ik Region

Native Hawaiian Education Association Convention 2001

Southeast Region


Alaska RSI Contacts

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Guideline bookletsAKRSI Holds Forum on Culturally-Responsive Curriculum

by Frank Hill, Oscar Kawagley and Ray Barnhardt

On March 26-28, 2001, over 50 educators from across the state gathered in Anchorage for a forum on culturally-responsive curriculum sponsored by the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative (AKRSI). A dedicated group of Elders, Native educators and others actively involved in curriculum initiatives associated with the AKRSI spent three days reviewing current curriculum efforts and outlining steps for future development.

Given the many new state mandates, school reform initiatives and ongoing challenges that school districts are grappling with today, it seemed an opportune time to step back and reflect on where we are and where we want to go with Native education in Alaska. The focus of the curriculum forum was to take a look at how education programs and services can best be positioned to push our curriculum development efforts beyond just developing more culturally-appropriate "units" and exploring what a broader culturally-responsive curriculum "framework" might look like and then to build on this to determine where the AKRSI resources can be best put to use over the next few years. In addition to going over existing materials and models, we explored what it means for curriculum and instruction when attempting to operationalize the Alaska Standards for Culturally-Responsive Schools, and what kind of support is needed to move that process forward. Along with presentations on many exciting regional curriculum development initiatives from around the state by participants from each of the five cultural regions, reports were made on the following current statewide programs and initiatives:

  • Orientation to ANKN SPIRAL Curriculum Resources/Web Site: Sean Topkok

  • Curriculum Resources at www. Paul Ongtooguk

  • Innuqatagiit/Dene Kede Curriculum Models: Cathy McGregor, Nunavut

  • Handbook for Culturally-Responsive Science Curriculum: Sidney Stephens

  • Translating Science Standards into Practice: Cyndy Curran

  • Village Science/Alaska Native Science and Engineering Society: Alan Dick

  • GLOBE Project: Sidney Stephens

  • Subsistence Contaminants Curriculum Project: Marvin Bailey, Patricia Cochran

  • Alaska Challenger Project: Daniela Martian

  • Carnegie Math Tutor Initiative: Bev Smith

  • Cooperative Extension Fisheries Project: Peter Stortz, Zelma Axford

  • Cultural Atlas Initiative: Sean Topkok

  • ARCTIC Technology Initiative: John Rusyniak

Following status reports on the various regional and statewide initiatives, the participants turned their attention to developing recommendations for action plans around three focal areas. Following is a summary of the recommendations put forward for follow-up actions in each of the focal areas (no order of priority was established):

Group 1: Develop local and regional strategies for school districts to implement culturally-responsive curriculum.

This group was to prepare an action plan outlining strategies to guide district-level curriculum initiatives and regional collaboration aimed at improving the cultural responsiveness of school curricula. Recommendations of this group included:

  1. The AKRSI regional coordinators should organize a "Regional Curriculum Forum" in conjunction with the regional planning meetings in the fall.

  2. The AKRSI staff should work with the regional Native educator associations to develop a CD-ROM template that provides a locally- adaptive framework to facilitate culturally-aligned curriculum development.

  3. AKRSI should develop a "Talent Bank" of knowledgeable Native educators who are available to provide culturally-appropriate professional development for teachers, administrators, schools and districts.

  4. AKRSI, Native educator associations and AASB should provide assistance for local school boards to develop a vision for implementing culturally-responsive schools (e.g., AOTE process).

  5. AKRSI staff should assist in developing a network of curriculum development expertise to assist local schools and districts in implementing the cultural standards for curriculum.

  6. State, regional and village corporations and foundations should provide political support and investment for strengthening the role of schools in local communities.

  7. AFN should work with the Native educator associations to promote educational policies that support the implementation of culturally-responsive schools throughout the state.

  8. The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development and AKRSI should use school district report card data and the cultural standards to document the relationship between culturally-responsive curriculum and issues associated with student achievement.

  9. School districts should establish locally-knowledgeable teams of teachers, Elders and aides to promote culturally-responsive curriculum in the schools.

  10. The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development and AKRSI should establish a procedure for a cadre of Quality School consultants who can assist schools in developing "school improvement plans" based on the Alaska Standards for Culturally-Responsive Schools.

Group 2: Develop statewide strategies for supporting school districts in implementing culturally-responsive curriculum.

This group was to prepare an action plan outlining statewide strategies to guide the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative, the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development and the University of Alaska in providing support to schools for implementation of culturally-responsive curricula. Recommendations of this group included:

  1. Support for curriculum initiatives should focus on those school districts that have the greatest need and are most receptive to implementing new approaches so as to achieve the greatest demonstration effect and impact.

  2. AKRSI should organize the curriculum resources and technical assistance that are available to schools seeking to become more culturally responsive into a package of support services that can be tailored to meet school district needs.

  3. The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development should provide incentives for school districts to implement cultural orientation programs for new teachers as part of their annual in-service plan submitted to EED. The orientation program should include an extended camp experience and an "Adopt-a-Teacher" program.

  4. The University of Alaska and EED should make available a "cross-cultural specialist" endorsement for teachers built around the criteria outlined in the Alaska Standards for Culturally-Responsive Schools and the Guidelines for Preparing Culturally-Responsive Teachers.

  5. The UA system should develop a unified approach for the delivery of performance-based elementary and secondary teacher preparation programs and degrees to rural Alaska, with a particular focus on the professional development of the 700-plus teacher aides in rural schools.

  6. All teacher preparation programs should fully incorporate the Guidelines for Preparing Culturally-Responsive Teachers and prepare teachers who are equipped to work with communities in implementing the Alaska Standards for Culturally-Responsive Schools.

  7. The Guidelines for Preparing Culturally-Responsive Teachers and the Alaska Standards for Culturally-Responsive Schools should serve as the basis for the review and approval of courses to be used to meet the state Multicultural Education and Alaska Studies requirements.

  8. The school designator criteria being established by EED should include an assessment of the extent to which the ethnic composition of a schools professional staff is proportional to the ethnic composition of the students being served, and if they are disproportional, the school improvement plan should indicate how such a balance will be achieved.

  9. AKRSI should work with the Alaska EED to develop a process and support structure to assist schools designated as low-performing in the development of school improvement plans consistent with the Alaska Standards for Culturally-Responsive Schools.

  10. A cadre of Culturally-Responsive Quality Schools consultants should be established who are fully knowledgeable in all aspects of the implementation of the Alaska Standards for Culturally-Responsive Schools to assist districts in the development of culturally-appropriate school improvement plans. Areas of CRQSC expertise should include the following:

  • multiple standards for measuring school success;

  • appropriate methods for assessing local educational needs;

  • history of alternative approaches to school structure in Alaska;

  • role and practices of successful administrators;

  • procedures for developing and implementing a local plan of action;

  • strategies for parent, community and staff involvement;

  • relevant aspects of school law and state regulations;

  • alternative school staffing and scheduling arrangements and

  • techniques for systematic observation and analysis of school practices.

  1. Information on the beneficial effects of the Alaska Standards for Culturally-Responsive Schools on student achievement should be made available in multiple ways to schools and communities.

  2. AKRSI should work with the Native educator associations to develop a set of guidelines for culturally-responsive school boards and to orient superintendents to the strategies for implementing the Alaska Standards for Culturally-Responsive Schools.

  3. Appropriate resources and training should be made available to ensure that the history of Alaska Native peoples is fully integrated in all Alaska and U.S. history courses in an accurate and representative manner.

  4. AKRSI should seek funds to provide support for Native educator associations to become more actively involved in all aspects of policy- and decision-making regarding education in Alaska.

  5. The Alaska Federation of Natives, the Native corporations, the First Alaskans Foundation, the Denali Commission and the Consortium for Alaska Native Higher Education should take a proactive role in support of integrating the Alaska Standards for Culturally-Responsive Schools and associated guidelines in all aspects of education in Alaska.

  6. All of the recommendations derived from the Forum on Culturally-Responsive Curriculum should be reviewed on a region-by-region basis to formulate appropriate regional action plans for their implementation.

Group 3: Develop strategies for regional Native educator associations to play an active role in implementing culturally-responsive curriculum.

This group was to prepare an action plan outlining strategies to guide the involvement of regional Native educator associations in the development and implementation of culturally-responsive curricula. Recommendations of this group included:

  1. The regional Native educator associations should work closely with local and regional corporations to establish ongoing Elders councils (e.g., Calista Elders Council) to provide guidance at all levels in implementing the Alaska Standards for Culturally-Responsive Schools.

  2. The Native educator associations should work with Elders to document traditional ways of knowing and terminologies not used in everyday conversation to make them available for use in curriculum materials development.

  3. The Native educator associations and AKRSI should organize grant-writing workshops for teachers to obtain funds for curriculum and teacher training initiatives.

  4. AKRSI should set up a section of the ANKN web site listing grant opportunities and guidelines for funding Native education initiatives.

  5. Native educator associations should utilize the ERIC Clearinghouse to obtain current information on research related to American Indian/Alaska Native education issues (http://www.

  6. Regional Native educator associations should utilize the Cook Inlet Tribal Council resource materials to support recruitment and placement of Native teachers and administrators.

  7. Native educator associations should assist teachers in developing the proper protocol and practices for working with Elders in a culturally-appropriate educational capacity, including effective use of the Guidelines for Respecting Cultural Knowledge.

  8. School districts should include Native educators in all curriculum discussions with the explicit responsibility of promoting the incorporation of the Alaska Standards for Culturally-Responsive Schools in all aspects of education programs.

  9. Native educator associations should incorporate as 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations so they can secure and manage funding for their own initiatives.

  10. Native educator associations should each host a minimum of two to three audioconference meetings per year to provide an opportunity for members to identify current issues, voice concerns and formulate strategies.

  11. Native educator associations should assist graduate students in identifying appropriate topics for research projects and theses that will contribute to the educational needs of the state.

The recommendations outlined above are intended to serve as the basis for more detailed action plans by the designated organizations. We wish to express appreciation to all the participants in the Forum on Culturally-Responsive Curriculum for contributing their valuable time and insights to this effort. We invite everyone with an interest in these issues to offer additional ideas and suggestions for how the action plans can be further strengthened so that we can look forward to a bright future for education in rural Alaska.

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Native Education Advisory Council to the Commissioner

Bernice B. Tetpon, Rural/Native Education Liaison

The Alaska State Board Action Plan on Native Student Learning includes a provision that the Department of Education & Early Development "establish a Native Education council to advise the commissioner." The Native Education Advisory Council's purpose is to focus on the improvement of the quality of instruction so it meets the needs of our Native students.

Members include: Esther A. Ilutsik, Ciulistet Research Association; Moses Dirks, Unangan Educators Association; Sophie Shield, Association of the Native Educators of the Lower Kuskokwim; Lolly Carpluk, Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative; Andy Hope, Southeast Native Educators Association; Oscar Kawagley, Alaska First Nations Research Network; Frank Hill, Co-Director, AKRSI, Alaska Federation of Natives; Dorothy Larson, Consortium for Alaska Native Higher Education; Cecilia Martz, Retired Indigenous Professors Association; Teri Schneider, Native Educators of the Alutiiq Region; Martha Stackhouse, North Slope Iñupiaq Educators Association; Nita Rearden, Alaska Native Education Council; Sam Towarak, Bering Straits Region Native Educators and Carol Lee Gho, Association of Interior Native Educators. Bernice B. Tetpon, Rural/Native Education Liaison, is the contact person at the Department of Education & Early Development for the Council.

The Council will be meeting via audio conference this year. Many topics that are discussed come from the initiatives developed by the Native Educator Associations and the Alaska Federation of Natives resolutions passed during the annual convention. Discussions surround the initiatives and resolutions and their impact on educational policies, regulation and funding with recommendations to the commissioner.

During the first meeting, March 9, 2001, Oscar Kawagley was nominated to chair the Native Education Advisory Council to the Commissioner. Topics of discussion included:

Guidelines for Nurturing Culturally-Healthy Youth

Guidelines for Nurturing Culturally-Healthy Youth and designation of the Department of Education & Early Development's involvement with follow up activities to be determined at a later date.

Guidelines for Strengthening Indigenous Languages

Discussion centered on Senate Bill 103: An act relating to a curriculum for Native language education. Several districts are using the guidelines developed at the October 2001 Alaska Native Language Forum to develop the Native Language Advisory Committees. These are: home language survey, rationale of current program; description of delivery model and description of resources

Cross-Cultural Education Specialist Endorsement

It was recommended that new teachers could benefit from this course as part of their professional development and a salary increase as an incentive. Summer institutes as well as learning from the natural environment will be a part of the activities.

Discussion-AFN Resolutions

The council reviewed AFN Resolutions 00-11 through 00-16. Included was a discussion on the AFN Resolution 00-11 requiring that Alaska history be taught in the schools of Alaska and House Bill 171 which is an act relating to a curriculum for Alaska history with a Native studies component. Each Council member requested to review HB 171 to provide input.

The April 2, 2001 meeting focused on unfinished business from the March 9 meeting. The results were that the council is recruiting Native Educators as Quality School consultants. The council will also recruit Native Educators to participate in the development of story problems on the Carnegie Algebra I Tutor addendum.

The next audio conference is scheduled for May 25, 2001.

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New Graduate Program Emphasizes Indigenous Knowledge

by Ray Barnhardt and Oscar Kawagley

A new Master of Arts degree in Cross-Cultural Studies with an emphasis on indigenous knowledge systems was approved by the UA Board of Regents on March 9, 2001. The program, to be offered by UAF, is designed to provide graduate students from various fields of interest an opportunity to pursue in-depth study focusing on the role and contributions of indigenous knowledge in the contemporary world.

The new M.A. program will provide a means to expand our knowledge base in areas that have received only limited attention in the past, as well as to document and pass that knowledge on to future generations in a culturally sensitive way. The intent of the program is to incorporate and contribute to newly emerging bodies of scholarship that have much to offer in addressing critical needs of the state. It will be available to students throughout Alaska by distance education in combination with intensive seminars and summer courses on campus.

Graduates of the program will be expected to bring greater depth and breadth of cultural understanding to many of the complex social issues and fields of endeavor that shape Alaska today, especially those involving cross-cultural considerations and utilizing indigenous knowledge systems (e.g., education, ecological studies, natural resources, health care, community development, social services, justice, Native studies, etc.) Students will be required to demonstrate their ability to work effectively with indigenous people in their studies and to complete a final cultural documentation project in collaboration with knowledgeable Elders. New courses have been developed in the following areas, to be offered throughout the state each year by distance education, along with other courses that will be available to meet degree requirements:

CCS 601, Documenting Indigenous Knowledge

The course will provide students with a thorough grounding in the research methodologies and issues associated with documenting and conveying the depth and breadth of indigenous knowledge systems and their epistemological structures. Included will be a survey of oral and literate data-gathering techniques, a review of various modes of analysis and presentation, and practical experience in a real-life setting.

CCS 602, Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights

The course will examine issues associated with recognizing and respecting the cultural and intellectual property rights associated with the documentation, publication and display of knowledge, practices, beliefs and artifacts associated with particular cultural traditions. Appropriate research principles, ethical guidelines and legal protections will be reviewed for their application to cross-cultural studies.

CCS 608, Indigenous Knowledge Systems

The course will provide students with a comparative survey and analysis of the epistemological properties, world views and modes of transmission associated with various indigenous knowledge systems, with an emphasis on those practiced in Alaska.

CCS 612, Traditional Ecological Knowledge

The course will examine the acquisition and utilization of knowledge associated with the long-term inhabitation of particular ecological systems and the adaptations that arise from the accumulation of such knowledge. Attention will be given to the contemporary significance of traditional ecological knowledge as a complement to academic disciplinary fields of study.

Admissions requirements

  1. Applicants should have at least two years of experience related to the area of applied study.

  2. Applicants should have a bachelor's degree in an approved area of study as determined by the faculty's admissions committee. The committee may recommend provisional admittance subject to completion of specified requirements.

  3. Admission will be contingent upon:

    1. A minimum GPA of 3.00 in previous undergraduate work
      - or -
      Acceptable scores on the Graduate Record Examination general test.

    2. Submission of graduate application, transcripts of previous work, three letters of reference and a three-page statement of intent.

    3. A satisfactory review conducted by an admissions committee composed of faculty from the Center for Cross-Cultural Studies and Department of Alaska Native Studies (may include a personal interview by the committee.)

For further information about the M.A. in Cross-Cultural Studies, contact the Center for Cross-Cultural Studies (907-474-1902), the Department of Alaska Native Studies (907-474-7181) or go to the CXCS web site at

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Dixie Masak Dayo
Dixie Masak Dayo (Alaska) gave a presentation at the ACC titled "How Do We Heal?" featuring her story dress. The dress is about values and is a tribute to the Alaska Natives and her father who taught her a traditional education.


Our Clothing, Our Culture, Our Identity

Keynote Address to the Arctic Clothing Conference, British Museum, London, England, March, 2001

by Veronica Dewar, President, Pauktuutit Inuit Women's Association

I would like to begin by thanking the organizers of this conference for giving me the opportunity to address you today. I would also like to acknowledge the many other Inuit women from Canada who are here with us. I am often the only Inuk at gatherings like this, so I would like to thank the British Museum for ensuring there was not only token representation of Inuit from Canada.

Pauktuutit is the national organization that represents all Inuit women in Canada. There are approximately 60,000 Inuit in Canada who live primarily in the six Arctic regions: the Western Arctic, Kitikmeot, Kivalliq, Qikiqtaaluk, Nunavik and the north coast of Labrador.

Pauktuutit was incorporated in 1984 to address a range of social and health issues that were not being addressed by other Inuit organizations in Canada. At that time, we were deep in negotiations of land claim settlements and other matters of national significance to Inuit.

Our work has focused on the priorities of women, which have tended to relate to ending violence in our communities and restoring Inuit ownership and control of our culture, our wisdom and our futures.

As the national representative of Inuit women in Canada, Pauktuutit regularly addresses issues related to traditional knowledge. As an example, Pauktuutit completed a major project on traditional child birthing and midwifery involving over 75 interviews of Inuit women and midwives describing over 500 births. Key objectives were to document and preserve this knowledge and to introduce it to the modern medical profession.

I would like to share some personal experiences and perspectives on the importance of our clothing and designs to us as Inuit. I will then tell you about some of our recent activities, both within Canada and internationally, and what we hope to accomplish in terms of protecting our traditional knowledge and intellectual property as it relates to the amauti.

The personal comments I am about to share with you first appeared in the Ottawa Citizen, a local daily paper in Ottawa, Ontario where I now live.

When I was growing up in Coral Harbour, Southampton Island, traditional Inuit design was a natural part of my life; these were everyday garments. My mother had 13 children and she couldn't leave them to fend for themselves; she had to use the amauti to carry them. The amauti was always around. I even had one as a little girl to carry puppies in. The amauti has existed and been passed down from generation to generation.

We couldn't afford to buy expensive clothes. The government social assistance we received was not enough. But my mother made caribou clothing for my father and brother. She made things from sealskin, use fox and wolf fur to protect the face from the elements and made mitts out of rabbit skin. Everything was made from skins from our surroundings. In a harsh, cold environment we needed these superb garments for survival.

I remember looking through Sears' and Eaton's catalogues when I was about eight or nine back in the '50s. I really liked the big full skirts and the fur muffs. We wanted to buy the things we saw, but there was no way of making money to get them. In Coral Harbour, the priests would get boxes of secondhand clothes and we would look through them. We found sweaters and skirts and warm clothing, but nothing as nice as what we saw in the catalogues. My sister used to make me skirts. I remember a dress my sister made me with a big, full skirt and it used to swing around when I danced.

When you are exposed to another culture, you get interested in new things. I went to school in Churchill, Manitoba and then in Ottawa. And I traveled overseas and was exposed to other cultures. I went back home at the beginning of the '70s and started working for land claims organizations as an interpreter. I started to question what I was doing. "Why am I not doing more to help my people?" I asked myself. "Do they understand their rights and what opportunities they have?"

I got involved in local politics and I traveled around the North to different regions. I dressed mainly in Western clothes, but when I went back home, all my sisters sewed well and they would make me many traditional garments. I began to see the beauty in them: They were appropriate, warm and well designed, but beyond that they were part of our identity. In fact, they are really in demand now. More and more Inuit are wearing traditional clothes. Even some white people who move up North wear them now too.

Also, you have to have a good salary to buy Western-style material, so sometimes it's easier to use caribou skins. You can wear them as reversible garments-one way with fur outside and one way with the fur inside.

I think what some non-Inuit fashion designers have been doing with our designs is disrespectful. If they would see how they are really used up North, I believe they would think twice about how they're appropriating the designs. I've seen some non-Inuit try to sell their own version of Inuit design but it's often a distortion. For instance, a non-Inuit woman designed an amauti and normally the front is shorter than the back, which is longer and gives you room to move and keeps your legs warm from the back. But this lady made the back very short and started to wear it herself; she was selling them as authentic Inuit designs, but they weren't. When the Inuit women saw that, they said, "Why can't we stop that? It's misrepresentation and it distorts the very nature of it." It's sad, I think, because the garments-all pieces of the amauti, for example-have a meaning to them. The design is complicated. Every piece has a name; each section has a name and a purpose to it. For instance, with the amauti you can carry the baby in the back or if you want to breastfeed, you put your arms inside and you can roll the amauti backward to take the baby inside. If you distort that design, it becomes meaningless because you can't actually do any of those things. That is what it's all about.

It would be best if designers consulted with us instead of just stealing our designs and patterns. We want recognition that these are our designs and we want to know what they are doing with them. It's part of a general recognition of Inuit culture and a way to increase awareness of our culture.

We recently had the experience of a representative of Donna Karan, a major New York fashion designer, who came to the Western Arctic in Canada and was buying older Inuit garments. In some cases, she bought jackets off people's backs and went into people's homes specifically looking for older designs. She did not consult with Inuit on the purpose of her visit, nor did she tell people what she planned to do with the garments back in the United States.

Pauktuutit learned of her visit when a journalist from Yellowknife called us to inquire whether we were aware of this situation. We were not, but were certainly concerned. Once we had an opportunity to learn more about the purpose of her trip to the Western Arctic-which is a very long trip from New York City-and her activities in our communities, we felt we had no choice but to intervene. We were very concerned that Inuit were being exploited because she took advantage of some of the less educated people there who did not know their rights. We wrote directly to Ms. Karan, outlining our concerns and the reasons for them as well as explaining our efforts to develop a legal mechanism that would recognize and protect the collective nature of Inuit ownership of our designs and other cultural symbols and property. We had hoped to get a dialogue going, but unfortunately, we have not received a formal response. We did learn that in response to calls primarily from Canadian journalists, Ms. Karan's media people stated clearly that it was not her intention to appropriate Inuit designs by including them in her lines. It was then that we learned that the garments that were purchased in the Western Arctic were on display in Ms. Karan's boutique in New York City, along with designs from other cultures around the world.

I can only wonder if the people who sold their garments were informed of this and whether they would agree. We are no longer willing to be treated like artifacts in museums, and that includes our living culture that is embodied in our clothing and other symbols of Inuit culture such as the inukshuk, ulu and so on.

I also have to wonder what the purpose of such a display is and how it relates to the business of a New York fashion designer. Who benefits? Unfortunately, I know that, in this case, Inuit have received no benefit, but beyond that may have been exposed to a grave risk of appropriation and exploitation of our traditional and contemporary culture and identity.

This brings me to the major focus of my presentation. Currently, our designs are not protected legally. Existing legal protections such as copyright, trademark and industrial property do not recognize and protect the collective nature of Inuit ownership of our designs, including the amauti. These are legal mechanisms that were designed to protect the property of individuals within a Western legal system.

The Arctic adaptation of Inuit has inspired some remarkable innovations and technologies. The modern world, however, has appropriated many elements of Inuit material culture without due recognition or compensation for the original creators. The parka and qajaq are obvious examples. The traditional boot, the kamiik, is now a trademark brand of outdoor footwear made by Genfoot. The "history" of the company makes no reference to Inuit even though they use an inukshuk as a logo. This exploitation of traditional knowledge, and the intellectual property that it encompasses, is not unusual among indigenous peoples around the world. It is now critical that we develop the tools and skills to protect our heritage and ensure that we benefit from any use of our traditional knowledge and cultural and intellectual property.

The introduction of the wage economy is relatively recent in the North and the rhythm of life for many communities still revolves around traditional harvesting activities. There are many opportunities in the fashion and clothing industry and many Inuit women are very interested in business and employment opportunities related to Inuit clothing. But pro-active methods must be taken immediately to demonstrate and protect the links between traditional culture, modern commercial applications, traditional harvesting and utilization of resources and financial self-sufficiency. Wage labour and the market economy has introduced the alien concepts of privatization and commercialization to communally-owned property. The issue of prior informed consent for the ethical use of this property becomes critical. Indigenous people have the right to own and control their cultural heritage and utilize environmental resources in a holistic and sustainable manner. It is important that the participation of Inuit women in the modern economy be actively promoted and protected.

For several years Pauktuutit has promoted traditional Inuit clothing designs and artistry. In 1995 Inuit fashion and clothing was showcased at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa during the Winterlude festival and at the Toronto CNE. Southern consumers expressed great interest in the clothing and accessories at these two events. An economic development project entitled "The Road to Independence" has recently been completed. The objective was to assist Inuit women to take advantage of opportunities in the fashion and clothing industry by developing skills related to the design and production of traditional and contemporary garments intended for sale to southern consumers. The idea was to return ownership and benefits of the production of these garments to Inuit by cultivating an appreciation for hand-crafted Inuit clothing. This can provide viable economic opportunities and financial independence for women that do not undermine the cultural integrity of Inuit communities. The project promoted employment through practical applications of traditional knowledge and skills as well as training to compete in retail markets that extend beyond their communities. Underlying principles included the transfer of skills to younger women by the Elders, community development and ownership and control of the benefits. The success of the project, however, can have a negative impact. Without clarification of the intellectual property rights involved, the amauti may go the way of the qajaq, parka and kamiik.

Pauktuutit has been an active member of the Executive Committee and the Aboriginal Caucus of the open-ended working group on the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Canada. The Convention on Biological Diversity, and specifically Article 8(j) of the convention, offer an opportunity for indigenous peoples to better exercise their rights to control, manage and share the benefits derived from the ideas and innovations they have developed. Article 8(j) of the Convention calls for contracting parties to:

. . . Respect, preserve and maintain the knowledge and innovations of indigenous peoples that are relevant to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity; promote the wider application of such knowledge, innovations and practices with the approval and involvement of the holders of such knowledge and encourage the equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of such knowledge, innovations and practices. The convention will therefore serve as the cornerstone for Pauktuutit's work to protect the amauti.

In that regard, we have recently achieved some success in obtaining funding to hold the first consultation with Inuit in Canada on how we wish to protect our cultural and intellectual property. We wish to consult with Inuit experts on the nature of collectively-owned property, and to explore the concept of the appropriate custodian for such a protection on behalf of all Inuit. Other questions we wish to discuss and obtain direction on include access and benefit sharing by individuals while respecting the collective ownership of cultural and intellectual property. I know personally of some Inuit designers who are currently struggling with the question of what their rights may be as an individual to personally benefit from the property and designs of all Inuit and our ancestors.

Other questions we have identified and will be seeking answers for during the course of our project include:

  • What are the obligations of an individual who may benefit financially from using their own cultural and traditional knowledge as an Inuk, to their community and broader Inuit society?

  • Do Inuit currently have an informal customary intellectual property system in place?
    If so, what is the nature of the customary laws that relate to traditional knowledge and intellectual property and its appropriate use?

  • How does it relate to protecting the amauti as the collective cultural and intellectual property of all Inuit women in Canada?

  • Are there traditional rules about access and benefit sharing that can be applied in this contemporary context?

As a result of our work over many years, we have been recognized as international experts by the World Intellectual Property Organization, which is beginning to address issues related to indigenous traditional knowledge and intellectual property rights. We participated in their second round table on the subject in 1999 and our work to protect the amauti is being looked at by indigenous peoples internationally as a precedent-setting project and is viewed as cutting-edge indigenous IPR work.

Pauktuutit has also worked in association with the Indigenous Women of the Americas to develop a better understanding of the issues associated with craft commercialization and intellectual property.

The Indigenous Women of the Americas is an association of like-minded indigenous women from throughout Latin and South America who come together when we can to address issues of mutual concern. In our early discussions with our colleagues in the Americas, we thought that issues of violence and personal and economic security would emerge as priorities for action. Instead, craft commercialization and the need to protect our traditional knowledge and intellectual property rights emerged as the first priority for indigenous women in the Western Hemisphere.

As we began our work, we conducted a survey in 1997 among Aboriginal women in Canada to determine Canadian priorities and concerns. More recently, Pauktuutit helped organize an international training workshop on intellectual property rights and craft commercialization. The workshop was held in late April 1999 near Ottawa and was attended by indigenous women from throughout the Americas. The primary purpose of the workshop was to help women attain a legal understanding of the issues and to help them take economic control over commercialization of art designs. This is another example of Pauktuutit's commitment to promote the cultural heritage and economic conditions of women and positions Pauktuutit as the appropriate manager of a case study on the protection of traditional knowledge.

In the spirit of Article 8(j), Inuit need the incentive to avoid an Arctic economy that exploits the environment. Our economy should respect our heritage and allow us to continue to use our traditional knowledge and resources in a sustainable manner. Protecting the intellectual property of our traditional knowledge will help achieve this end. Biological diversity can be conserved by conserving cultural diversity. As I said earlier, much of Inuit community life continues to revolve around traditional harvesting activities. Harvesting rights are guaranteed under the Nunavut, Inuvialuit and the James Bay and Northern Quebec agreements. An Inuit owned and controlled clothing and fashion industry that hinges on traditional knowledge, designs and motifs and the relationship to the harvesting and processing of furs and skins provide a multifaceted link to Article 8(j).

I would also like to take this opportunity to inform you about events that are taking place even as I speak. In Ottawa, Canada, there is currently a hemispheric indigenous leadership summit. Indigenous traditional knowledge and intellectual property rights are being addressed as a priority issue within the context of globalization and the upcoming meeting in Canada of the Organization of American States (OAS). Inuit in Canada are determined that our rights must take precedence over hemispheric and international trade agreements that could negatively impact on our aboriginal rights. I understand delegates will be developing a resolution on the issue that will be presented to the member states of the OAS in April.

Pauktuutit has also been actively involved in events leading to the World Conference Against Racism. We have been providing advice to the Canadian government as a member of their Aboriginal Advisory Committee and have also attended a recent intercessional meeting in Geneva that began negotiating the text of the declaration and plan of action that will be presented and discussed in Geneva. Traditional knowledge and intellectual property rights are priority issues for indigenous peoples around the world and it is no different for Inuit in Canada.

Inuit have great things to offer the world. We are known internationally as diplomats and negotiators and have successfully negotiated three major land claim agreements in Canada. Inuit have a unique quality of harmony and consensus-building based on trust and mutual respect. We are more than willing to share these qualities with the non-Inuit world, as we are willing to share our unique culture with the world. But that relationship must be based on respect that is mutual and one that recognizes that we are the only owners of all the elements of our culture including our cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and our intellectual property.

Thank you very much for your time.

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Contaminants Have Found Us

by Angayuqaq Oscar Kawagley

As a young boy growing up in Bethel I experienced heavy snows and cold temperatures in winter, but our summers were times of fun and lots of hard work in the fish camps. We did not worry about pollution as our lifestyles did not produce wastes dangerous to ourselves or to the plants and animals around us. Most of the things that we used were biodegradable or recyclable; we lived in harmony with nature. Now we have been thrust into an industrialized world with its extensive use of natural resources to manufacture tools and other items that are supposed to make life easier for us.

We, as indigenous people, were adapted to these climatic conditions and so were the plants and animals we depended on for food. Perhaps these special adaptations made us, the plants and animals more susceptible to certain anthropogenic contaminants. And now our own activities in using technological devices in our everyday activities are contributing to the physical, chemical and biological pollution of our Arctic ecosystems.

From what scientists have told us, you get the idea that there are two sources of contaminants-sources far from the Arctic and within the Arctic. The industrial complexes in Russia and other Eurasian countries contribute to the Arctic contamination. The main modes of transport for these contaminants are air currents, ocean currents and riverine systems. The meltwater in the spring carries the pollutants downriver to the deltas and into the oceans. Another way of transporting contaminants is through the migratory birds and mammals which winter in the warm climates and then migrate north in the summer. These are often at the top of the food web and are the most effected. But we, as a Native people, continue to eat these nutritious foods as well as maintain breast feeding for our young children. Because of contaminants contained in these foods that we eat, we may very well have a higher exposure to and accumulation of contaminant contents. Some of the major areas of concern for the effects that these contaminants can have is "influencing the ability to conceive and carry children, reducing our defense against diseases, affecting children's mental development or increasing the risk of cancer" (AMAP, 1997).

How do we as Alaska Native people and others begin to alleviate the situation? As long as we believe that science and technology is the answer to our problems, we will forever remain in the morass of the modern world. Unless we encourage our youngsters to go to the Elders and to pursue higher education to learn another way of making sense of this world, we will never get out of this trap. We must relearn our own Alaska Native languages and ways of making sense of this world. We have a way of looking at the universe that recognizes there are different perspectives-the outward and the inward. By using both viewpoints we can gain wisdom.

The Eurocentric way of knowing tends to rely on the physical and intellectual processes and pays less attention to the emotions and the spiritual dimensions. We must find a way of marrying the senses with the spiritual side for a more balanced perspective. Our Native languages are of wholeness and healing. They are languages of Native eco-philosophy, or "ecosophy". We need to relearn how to live in harmony with nature. Our languages describe these thought worlds, these worldviews. Our space-time concepts are cyclical according to the moon phases, seasons and the plant and animal cycles that determine the times of abundance and times of scarcity. The location and timing of these cycles give us scheduling and spacing tools. To relearn and revitalize our Alaska Native languages and cultures is to liberate ourselves from the industrial and materialistic prison into which we have been thrust.

To relearn our mythology that Raven created Mother Earth helps us realize that we cannot think of ourselves as being superior to anything of Mother Earth. Raven is a deity in this mythology but Raven can also be a buffoon, a comedian and a picaresque. The reason we do not worship the raven is because we are animists, not theists.

We must relearn our history but not from history books. We learn history particular to an individual, a family, a community from the quliraat and from the mythology, galumcit, stories, placenames, songs, dancing and drumming peculiar to that place. All these will give you a strong sense of who you are and where you are from. This beautiful concept of respect becomes clearer to us as it is connected to a belief system with high moral attitudes, rules and standards for personal character to become the best person one is capable of being. All of this is needed to begin to rebuild a new world based on what we learned from our ancestors, coupled with selective adaptations from the contemporary world.

Here are a few suggestions that we can work on: Insist on sustainable development-perhaps projects that require we work closely with nature-regenerative or reclamation activities such as cleaning up wetlands and fish-spawning areas. We must demand that industries and manufacturers find ways to reduce the use of natural resources, reduce packaging and pay attention to effluent and emission laws. We must demand that manufacturers of such thing as TVs, microwave ovens, snowmachines and other durable goods redeem and recycle those items when they become inoperable-perhaps they could establish a "lend-lease" program. We should begin to assess what technological tools are acceptable in the village instead of accepting whatever comes along. Let's become more biologically literate, not just electronically literate; let us strive to live healthy.

I think that if we begin to pay attention to such matters, we will begin to live life with a strong sense of belonging, discipline, independence and generosity. After all, the ultimate standard is to live a life that is healthy and stable in a healthy and sustainable community.

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Athabascan Region
Alaska Indigenous Peoples Academy

by Victoria Hildebrand, AIPA Project Director

Project Alaska Indigenous Peoples Academy (AIPA) is near- ing the end of its first fiscal year in early June and many objectives have been accomplished. The project's focus is twofold. One is to develop Athabascan curriculum aligned with state and cultural standards and the other is to train in-service teachers new to the rural and urban schools of the Interior. To date, the AIPA staff has been very busy working towards the project's goals. Although the staff started working late into the grant, they have met many objectives for the first year.

One of the activities has been to network with interested staff and educational agencies. To date we have made new contacts with the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Anchorage, Tanana Chiefs Conference, the Alaska Native Knowledge Network, the First Alaskans Foundation, the National Indian Education Association and the Native Hawaiian Education Council just to name a few.

Another activity that turned out to be a success included a summit that was held on January 15-17, 2001. The focus of this summit was to discuss issues and concerns that are important to Alaska Native education and to develop action plans for the objectives in Project AIPA. The plans from this summit are now in progress.

The plans for the 2001 Alaska Indigenous Peoples' Academy are underway and brochures for interested attendees will be mailed out soon. Our curriculum specialist is very busy developing the curriculum and we look forward to its future implementation. In the coming fiscal year, Project AIPA will focus on teacher training and continued curriculum development.

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Elder Highlight: Tribute to Oscar Nictune Sr.

A memorial potlatch in honor of Oscar Nictune Sr. was held at Allakaket on September 1-3, 2000. The following tribute was prepared by Bob Maguire. Reprinted from Spirit of our Ancestors, a publication of Denakkanaaga.

Oscar Nictune, Sr. was truly an extraordinary person- someone I feel very privileged to have known. When I came to the Koyukuk River country for the first time in the mid-1960s, Oscar was one of the first people I met. I was immediately struck by his intelligence, his openness to share his life experiences and his ever-present sense of humor. Later in 1968 I married my wife Cora-herself a granddaughter of Oscar Nictune Sr.-and I received the honor of having a grandpa myself for the first time in my life. During the following years it was my privilege to share many stories and adventures with Grandpa Oscar.

Born in 1901 he was the last living person to have experienced the gold rush era in the Koyukuk country at the beginning of the last century. Most of us are left to only imagine this era of steamboats, miners, pigs, horses and gold discoveries. There are few signs of the towns such as Bergman, Arctic City, South Fork and Peavey or of the 10,000 people who clamored over the countryside. Oscar took in all this activity and was influenced directly by it when he was recruited to attend school in Old Bettles in 1905 at the age of five. It was because of this experience that he received his name Oscar. Having only his Eskimo name, Qayak, he was given the name of the outside teacher's youngest brother!

Later, at the age of 12, he would haul loads of frozen fish by dog team from Alatna to Bettles, Coldfoot, Wiseman and the other creeks to sell to miners eager for fresh food supplies. Soon thereafter he was employed as a cabinboy and deckhand on the steam-powered paddlewheelers that plied the waters of Interior Alaska.

Later in life he married Grandma Cora-the daughter of Duvak and Dinook-and together they had nine children. Then the most tragic event of his life happened when his wife died during childbirth while delivering twins. Grandpa must have loved his wife Cora immensely for he never remarried saying that "when my love died, loving died too." I think that he felt he could never find another person like his love, Cora, so he chose to raise his family alone. He lived the next 56 years as a widower!

Sheep hunting was his favorite passion, especially in his later years. He learned to hunt sheep at an early age with his father Peter Nictune and others like Duvak, Nuylayek and Johnny Oldman. He loved the upper Alatna River country and the many creeks that run into it-creeks with names like Milchetah, Nahduk, Pingaluk, Gaduk and Unakserak. He had many stories of sheep hunts in the earlier times when there weren't other big animals such as moose in the country. Most of us who are privileged to travel there today still refer to it as "Grandpa Oscar's country." His greatest pleasure in his later years was still being able to accompany the younger grandsons to such places as Unakserak River and be the camp boss.

When I had my airplane in Allakaket in the mid-1970s, Grandpa Oscar and I took many trips together. He was the boss of that too and would often come across to Allakaket and announce to me, "Today we are going to Wiseman!" or wherever. He loved to visit his sister Florence Jonas in Wiseman. Sometimes he would stand back around the corner of her house and let me knock on her door, so he could surprise her.

Perhaps my favorite memory of him was a trip up the North Fork of the Koyukuk. I asked him why he wanted to go up the North Fork and he said, "Well there's some country I haven't seen!" So after several days of camping I gathered up our trash in a plastic bag and put it in the plane. When I got everything else packed up I looked for Grandpa and he was way out on the gravel bar sticking tin cans and other items from our trash bag on the willows. I walked out onto the bar and asked him, "Grandpa what are you doing?" He replied, "This is so if any of those other people come up this way, they'll know Oscar was here first!"

When he passed away in 1998 at the age of 97 he left behind a legacy of being a kind and generous man-one who cared for people. He left behind a family that he raised and supported to carry on his philosophy of always helping others, doing everything in the best fashion possible and of always seeing the positive side of life.

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Iñupiaq Region
Eskimo Heritage Program: Kawerak Board Report, March 2001

by Branson Tungiyan, Program Director

Much has been happening at the Eskimo Heritage Program since the beginning of the New Year. Topping off the list is the new memorandum of agreement that was signed between Kawerak, Inc. and the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) on December 1, 2000 by Julie Kitka of AFN and Loretta Bullard of Kawerak. This MOA is to implement Phase II of the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative (AKRSI).

Both Kawerak, Inc. and AFN agree to "collaborate for the purposes of implementing the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative" funded by the National Science Foundation. Through this agreement, AFN and Kawerak, Inc. affirm their commitment to work together on behalf of improving the quality of education in Alaska. In furtherance of this commitment, Kawerak, Inc. agrees to perform the following tasks between November 1, 2000 and February 28, 2002:

  1. Focusing on the Iñupiaq Region, Kawerak, Inc. will participate in the Consortium for Alaska Native Higher Education (CANHE) to pursue the continued development of a tribal college system in Alaska.

  2. Kawerak, Inc. will continue to develop the institutional infrastructure for the Iñupiaq region that will serve as the basis for establishing a tribal college with the capacity to address the educational needs and cultural well being of the Native people in the region.

I have been selected, through the Eskimo Heritage Program, to be the regional coordinator for the Iñupiaq region. This is going to be very challenging because it requires overseeing many different initiatives in our region. Some of the specific responsibilities include:

  • Encourage collaboration of educational partnerships on a regional and statewide basis, including support and assistance for the regional tribal college initiative.

  • Coordinate and organize at least one regional Elders' council meeting each year.

  • Coordinate activities of memoranda-of-agreement partners both for regional and local village/school initiatives.

  • Travel to and/or meet personally with MOA partners at least two times annually in partner's location.

  • Additional and training workshops on AKRSI resources and activities.

  • Identify, research and complete individual cultural curriculum projects.

  • Participate in statewide activities relative to promotion and development of AKRSI initiatives as a representative of the specific cultural region.

Another important thing that happened was that we had a retreat for the Eskimo Heritage Program on January 4, 2001. The purpose of the retreat was to review and assess where the program is on its long-range plan, what the accomplishments have been, set goals, establish a plan of action and determine who will be responsible in making sure the goals are achieved. We went through the following:


  • EHP office still in existence.

  • Supplemental funds from AKRSI to move forward with goals.

  • Iñupiaq (except for King Island and St. Lawrence Island) and Yup'ik collection digitized.

  • 92% of individual Elder interview audio tapes complete.

  • Hosting of successful Elders conferences.

  • Development of K-3 and 4-6 readers.

  • Through the EHP, Elder advisory committees started at the village level.

Trends Affecting the EHP Program

  • Acknowledgment nationwide by Native Americans.

  • More funds available (both government and private).

  • Bigger voice.

  • "Professionals" put credibility on Native cultural knowledge.

  • Revival of Native dancing and singing in the region.

  • Roles of Elders in the community disappearing.

The next step in the process is to identify what challenges (gaps) exist in accomplishing the mission statement of the EHP Program and what needs to be done in order to overcome those challenges. We turned the challenges into two-year goals and what needs to be done into the action plan. From there, we established who would be responsible in making sure the goals are met.

I have also been working with the Kawerak Elders Advisory Committee (KEAC). One of the activities of the KEAC is attending the Bering Sea Coalition Conference in Anchorage with the Council of Elders. Clarence Irrigoo and Charles Saccheus, Sr. of Elim had attended the last two conferences held in Anchorage. The KEAC decided that the same two individuals should attend the conference and be the representatives from the Bering Strait region for the next two years. Two different Elders can be selected for the following two years, and so forth. Jacob Ahwinona and Anders Apassingok attended the first Bering Sea Coalition conference.

I have been attending a series of meetings and conferences since becoming involved with AKRSI. The first one-week trip was to meet with the AKRSI staff and attend the Association of Interior Natives Education Summit with the Athabascan educators. This trip was very beneficial as it gave me a better picture of my role as the Iñupiaq regional coordinator for AKRSI. I will be working closely with our MOA partners: Nome Public Schools, Bering Strait School District, Northwest Arctic Borough School District and North Slope Borough School District.

The second one-week trip was to attend a meeting in Anchorage with representatives from the Pueblo and Navajo tribes of New Mexico and Lumbee of North Carolina in connection with the Rural Schools & Community Trust project. Alaska is currently one of the states that have Native groups in the project. This meeting was concurrent with the Native Educator's Conference (NEC) and the Bilingual Multicultural Education & Equity Conference (BMEEC). The Native educators adopted two new sets of guidelines: Guidelines for Nurturing Culturally-Healthy Youth and Guidelines for Strengthening Indigenous Languages.

The purpose of these guidelines is to offer assistance to educational personnel and others who are seeking to incorporate the Alaska Standards for Culturally-Responsive Schools in their work. Using these guidelines will expand the knowledge base and range of insights and expertise available to help schools and communities nurture and pass on their cultural heritage with respect and integrity.

A highlight of the Eskimo Heritage Program has been in regards to establishing the Eskimo Cultural Center as one of the priorities. It has gathered enough support that it is being presented in the state/federal issues packet. This is something that has been identified as a need for the Bering Strait region. With the long cultural histories in the Bering Strait region, there is no place for the representation of the strong cultural heritage we have as Native groups. We definitely need to have a cultural center to put on display the region's wealth of cultural heritage.

All in all, I feel that the program is heading in the right direction, with goals set in place. It makes me feel more comfortable to have goals to follow with an agenda. There are other activities happening on a daily basis. An interesting trip is coming up in early May where I will be following the Unalakleet group to Washington, D.C. They are going there to review objects at the Smithsonian Institution and the American Museum of Natural History. There are 90 objects in all at the two places from the Norton Sound region. I have been invited to attend as an observer, with the opportunity to bring a contingent from Nome and the surrounding villages at a later date.

The Kawerak Elders Advisory Committee will also be inviting Dan Karmun, Sr. to their next meeting to explain about the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority's upcoming trip to Nome and onto the villages in the region. A group of 30-plus people will come up from Anchorage and travel to six villages to conduct meetings and return the next day and assess their village trips. Norton Sound Health Corporation is assisting the group with their studies of the villages' social problems.

I will be contacting the village Elders' advisory committees to get input and suggestions in regards to AKRSI. Phase II of AKRSI will concentrate on initiatives that were successful in Phase I and develop them at a higher level. There are five sets of initiatives being rotated in the five cultural regions. Each region will have an opportunity to implement each initiative. These initiatives are:

  • Elders & Cultural Camps-Academy of Elders

  • Indigenous Science Knowledge Base-Cultural Atlas

  • Culturally Aligned Curriculum-Cultural Standards

  • Native Ways of Knowing/Teaching-Parent Involvement

  • Village Science Applications-AISES/ANSES Camps

The Alaska Federation of Natives will continue as a sponsor of the project. We look forward to working with the communities and Elders to help continue its success.

Thank You.

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Aleut/Alutiiq Region
The Academy of Elders/Science Camp 2001

by Teri Schneider

Once again, students, teachers and other commu- nity members in our region have an opportunity to engage in learning activities that are culturally and environmentally relevant with Elders and other culture bearers at the remote camp setting of Dig Afognak. This is a fantastic, academically challenging and culturally enriching experience for students, teachers, community members and Elders. The Kodiak Island Borough School District, the Kodiak Island Housing Authority and the Native Village of Afognak are pleased to sponsor this opportunity during two week-long camps.

Camp #1 will be held from July 23-July 29, and Camp #2 begins July 30 and ends on August 5. Both camps are being held at the Dig Afognak site at Katenai, Afognak Island. Transportation, food, facilities and staffing costs are being paid for by the three sponsoring organizations. Those who are able are asked to pay a $30 registration fee. Participants unable to pay will not be denied.

This camp is open to all students currently living in the Kodiak area, grades 2-12 (young students may be considered if they are successful applicants and are accompanied by a participating adult family member.) Participants should have an interest in Alutiiq Native culture, language and ways of knowing and perhaps science, math, and/or technology. Also invited are local indigenous Elders, educators of the Kodiak Island Borough School District, members of the Native Educators of the Alutiiq region and other interested community members as space allows.

This camp began in the summer of 1997 to orient new teachers to the region before they began teaching in the Kodiak schools. The Elders attending that summer said that we should bring students to such a camp, along with teachers, so that all could learn together. The camp acknowledges the Alutiiq Elders as the first teachers of their culture and allows participants to learn firsthand from Elders and community members with hands-on projects related to rural survival, lifestyles and Native ingenuity. While learning more about the rich history of our island communities and exploring the culture of the Alutiiq people, past and present, we are able to orient new teachers to the cultural and environmental uniqueness of our island community. In bringing together Elders, teachers and students outside of the formal school setting we are giving participants the opportunity to live with and learn from people of another culture.

Because this camp is academically oriented, we are hoping to stimulate interest in math, science and engineering fields among Alaska Native students. These are fields of study and work that have seen very little representation from within the Native community. We would like to increase students' confidence and knowledge in math, science and technology while incorporating Native values and perspectives with Western math, science and technology. The Academy of Elders/Science Camp has provided an opportunity to very naturally integrate academic learning with cultural enrichment.

If you or someone you know is interested in attending, you may contact Teri Schneider at 486-9276, email or Olga Pestrikoff at 486-6357, email

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Yup'ik Region
Native Hawaiian Education Association Convention 2001

by Esther Ilutsik

We began our exposure to Native Hawaiian education on March 29 with an invitation to observe the Native Hawaiian Education Association Board of Directors as they convened their meeting prior to their annual convention 2001 that would take place the next morning. They honored us with a greeting of leis. This followed with introductions, the Alaska delegation consisting of Lolly Carpluk, Velma Schafer, Virginia Ned, Joy Simon and myself, Esther Ilutsik. We were impressed with the education level and professionalism of the Native Hawaiian board of directors. We were not able to stay for the entire meeting as Lolly, Virginia and I had a scheduled audioconference, but we did join them for their luncheon and were invited to the banquet that evening. At the time the invitation was extended we did not know exactly what the banquet would entail and, as with many indigenous peoples of the world, we did not question what to expect.

Much to our surprise and delight the banquet was the Tenth Celebration of Ke Kukui Malamalama, Honoring Excellence in Hawaiian Education, sponsored by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board. "This celebration began in 1991 as a tribute to individuals, programs and groups who have furthered Native Hawaiians in achieving their educational aspirations. KeKukui Malamalama not only recognizes the academic achievements of Hawaiians in all fields of endeavors, but also applauds the incorporation of Native Hawaiian values, traditions and practices into the holistic education of our people. Ke Kukui Malamalama is a tribute to all those who make us, who encourage us, who teach us, who lead us to be the people we are and the people we can be" (taken from the Ke Kukui Malamalama Honoring Excellence in Hawaiian Education Program brochure, March 29, 2001.)

The celebration began with the audience singing a beautiful Hawaiian song. Their voices were strong, pure, melodic and beautiful and it was apparent that the music reunited them with their Hawaiian beliefs and goals. We were again honored with leis and introduced to the audience (even my daughter, Michelle Snyder, was recognized and it tickled her that she was introduced as an educator and not as an eighth-grade student.) Following the buffet dinner we were honored to witness the achievements of four exceptional educators. They began with the Kapuna (Elder) educator, Wright Bowman, Sr., who is a master woodcarver and is retired from Kamehameha School; Pihana Na Mamo, a project coordinator in special education, DOE; Maggie Keola Hanohano, coordinator, Kako'o program and Kulia I Ka Nu'u program, Kailua High School, DOE; JoAnn Kaakua, community educator; and Moses Kim, Jr., retired teacher.

On stage were four cloth-covered chairs (signifying honor status) and this part of the ceremony was co-chaired by two Kapunas (Elders). Kapuna Betty K. Jenkins and Kapuna Nalehua Knox began by giving some background information about these recognitions and recognizing past recipients, including Keiki Kawai'ae'a (she was one of the Native Hawaiian presenters at our 2001 Native Education Conference held in Anchorage.)

The Kapunas took turns calling the distinguished educators on to the stage. As each of the honorees came forth they were greeted by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees with leis and other gifts and then escorted to the chairs. When they were seated, the co-chairs took turns in sharing the honorees' accomplishments. It was obvious that it was an uncomfortable but honored situation for those being recognized. Following the acknowledgments, each of the honorees were given a chance to thank those who had given them this honor and recognition.

I was especially taken with JoAnn Kaahuas' talk when she referenced Queen Liliuokalani who once said, "The way to lose an earthly kingdom is to be too inflexible, intolerant and prejudicial. Another way is to be too flexible, tolerant of too many ways and without judgment at all. It is a razor's edge-it is the width of a blade of pili grass." She used this quote in reference to their own 'opio (group) wanting structure and challenge and she shared an interesting personal physical challenge that she herself undertook during an excursion to Molokai as they hiked into Halawa Valley to Moa'ula falls. Queen Liliuokalani's quote made me realize that each of us have to look at our own cultural group and examine what has happened that we continue to "fight" for our self-identity-why has it been such a struggle? How can we strike the proper balance to sustain who we are in an ever-changing world? The evening came to a close with all participants holding hands and again a Hawaiian song was sung. Thus ended our evening leaving us with lasting impressions of indigenous people once again making the marks of their people. Beautiful!

The next morning we were picked up and brought to the Native Hawaiian Education Association Convention held at the Kapi'olani Community College. As we registered, we were again honored with leis and were recognized at the general session. The theme of the conference was "KUPU A'E," which translates to "sprout forth" and is likened to growing things-it never ends. Last year's conference theme was "spring forth." Following the welcome and other formalities we listened to the keynote address by Dr. Manulani Aluli Meyer. According to the information found in the conference packet she was raised in Mokapu and Kailua on the island of O'ahu. Dr. Meyer has taught and coached for more than 20 years in alternative programs, from wilderness schools and Special Olympics to college-level athletic programs. She earned her doctorate from Harvard University with a focus on Hawaiian epistemology. She is dedicated to expanding the world's understanding of culture and philosophy and the way systems of knowledge and power work to impact what is constant in nature. She has written more than 15 articles on the subject and currently teaches in the Education Department at the University of Hawai'I-Hilo. The title of her address was "Ho'oulu'Ana-"The Time We Are In." Her message was dynamite! She enthralled the crowd with her knowledge and insight and emphasized "know where you are from so that you will know where you are going" and "our language teaches us who we are." She left us re-energized and in good spirits.

Manu's presentation was followed with workshop sessions. Michelle and I participated in an I Wili'la session presented by Uilani Pualoa. This workshop focused on methods in which to determine personality strengths and limitations. Knowing the strengths and limitations of the people you work with will help in building a stronger collective group. We engaged ourselves in a little exercise by answering a series of questions. Each response was represented by a lower case alphabet letter which when totaled up would equal a certain type of personality strength. I was surprised at the accuracy of this little exercise (Michelle found this workshop delightful and began to point out different personality traits using the color code.) I was attracted to this session thinking it would identify Native Hawaiian colors and that I might compare them with the three main Yup'ik colors found on our clothing. It turned out that was not the purpose of the workshop, though it was quite interesting anyway.

Following the lunch break we again assembled in the tent for the afternoon's keynote presentation by Carole Ann Heart, president of the National Indian Education Association. She spoke from the heart and experience. She emphasized that we need to teach our children their history from our own perspective. She shared a personal experience. When her daughter was a young girl she would drive her past Custer's house and she always told her that he was a bad man. Later when she started school she came home one day with a disturbed look. She asked her what was wrong and she told her mother that the school took a field trip to Custer's house and that he was a good man. She hugged her and proceeded to explain that there are people who believe he was a good man, but because of what he did to their people, he was not a good man to them, thus emphasizing her point that our history needs to be told from our perspective.

She continued by indicating that history may have been different if Native people hadn't embraced and helped the foreigners who first came to our lands, suggesting that perhaps we should have had a stronger immigration policy (applause from the audience.) She then closed with a story of how outsiders like to study indigenous people. She shared a study by a German anthropologist who, after much observation, noted carefully in his notebook that the Native American women always walked behind their men. He concluded that the Native American women were inferior to the Native American men, but what he didn't know was that the women always made sure that the men kept two paces ahead-as a way to keep them in line.

The keynote address was followed with workshop sessions. Lolly, Virginia and I presented our workshop titled "Indigenous Knowledge Documentation and Research Issues." We began our presentation with a traditional Yup'ik entrance song and dance (including Michelle). Our session was well received and ended with our group receiving a blessing and encouragement from Kapuna Edward Kaanana. He emphasized that we need to go forth and document correct information about our people-that accurate information needs to be published by our own people from our own perspective.

Following the workshop there was an informal reception. It was fun to watch the Native Hawaiian educators at ease. Someone had brought a ukulele so they were singing and hula dancing (both sexes appeared to be in competitive sport.) It was fun to watch the sport in such a natural and fun-loving setting. This followed with the literary performance by OIWI: A Native Hawaiian Journal. I was so impressed with the readings. There were five to six assigned readings. They read their own work and works of other people. Some of the readings included indigenous musical instrument accompaniments. We were totally awestruck with the performance and the depth of feelings that accompanied many of the readings. Absolutely beautiful!

The following morning the meetings began with a guest speaker, Makia Malo, who despite his lack of sight had been able to contribute to the education of the Indigenous Hawaiian children. He emphasized the importance of the word of mouth and the stories, and that educators need to be educated in the traditional methods of storytelling. The goal of educators is to excite the minds of the Hawaiian children. I was impressed with his goals and vision.

This was followed with a keynote address by Dr. Jon Kamakawiwo'ole Osorio. According to the information in the conference guide he was born on the Big Island and spent most of his adult life as a resident of Honolulu. He is a Native Hawaiian with a wide range of interests and talents, including being a musician, author and scholar. He has a Ph.D. in history from the University of Hawaii-Manoa, and has made significant scholarly contributions towards advancing Hawaiian initiatives in education, leadership, music and publications. Dr. Osorio currently serves as an assistant professor at the Center for Hawaiian Studies, University of Hawaii-Manoa. His keynote address, titled "Speaking from the Piko," focused on the limitations of American education and how Native Hawaiians had much to offer to the education of their own people. He focused in on the "Piko," which I understood to be the spirituality of the Native Hawaiians and how this understanding and connectedness could provide the foundation that educators could work from. He encouraged us to look at what was being taught in the schools and especially to look at what is being taught about our culture. He stated that indigenous people need a sense of mission and belonging, and that the present school system is fragmented with specialized disciplines. He felt that the American educational system has too much of a focus on equality and separation of church and state. In his own experience, they "schooled out" his spirituality. People need that spirituality to be connected to the universe and to acknowledge that there is a higher being than we are. He closed by encouraging indigenous people to focus their attention on caring for our own people and that we continue the struggle to find a place for ourselves. He received a standing high status Native Hawaiian song (more respectful than a standing ovation.)

This was followed with the last strand of workshops. Michelle and I participated in "Ola Na Mo'olelo: Living Stories" by Noelani Tachera, Chiya Hoapili, Miki'ala Ayau, Liko Hoe, Kanoe Wilson and Desoto Brown (Bishop Museum Staff). It was an excellent presentation on the tradition of living stories-using drama as a way to bring Native Hawaiian stories to life. They shared the story of Kalakaua. It was a very emotional time for some of the Native Hawaiians in the audience. Many of them had never seen this story unfold from a Native Hawaiian perspective. The emphasis at the Bishop Museum is to use the Native Hawaiian perspective in their materials and their live presentations. They shared A Teacher's Guide to Exhibits and Programs which described live presentations addressed to each grade level and standards that teacher's could use in planning their field trip to the museum. One of the activities that they shared was how adults and teachers can create lessons using everyday materials. For example they had a simple shell and questioned what kinds of traditional Hawaiian information can be sought from this basic shell. Does it trigger any stories or legends? What were the traditional uses and the process used for gathering the shells? What are the present uses and why have these remained the same or changed? I would have loved to partake in this exercise to see how it might be applicable to the work that I do.

The workshops were followed with lunch and then the closing of the Native Hawaiian Education Association Conference 2001 with words from Dr. David Kekaulike Sing. People were invited to go up to the microphone to make closing comments. Our Elder delegate, Velma Schafer, expressed our thanks and honor for being able to partake in such a beautiful and wonderful gathering. We were so welcomed and felt like a part of this indigenous group who share our values and goals. Aloha and quyana.

The conference was sponsored by many different organizations, including the Native Hawaiian Higher Education Program, Kamehameha Schools, Pacific Resources for Education and Learning, State of Hawaii Department of Education, Native Hawaiian Education Council, Native Hawaiian Community-Based Education Learning Centers, Queen Lili'uokalani Children's Center, Kamehameha Schools, Alu Like, Inc., Hawaiian Leadership Development Program, University of Hawaii, Hilo, Office of Hawaiian Affairs and 'Aha Punana Leo.

Separation Bar

Southeast Region

by Andy Hope

In brotherly love let your feelings of deep affection for one another come to expression and regard others as more important than yourself.

Romans 12:10 The New Jerusalem Bible 1985 edition

Come on boys

It's all right

We know very well

There's a lot of bad

Out there

Come on men

It's all right

Don't despair

Come on guys

It's a fight

Let's go to work

Come on men

Let's take care of the children

The nieces

The nephews

The sisters

The brothers

The families

The wives and mothers

The sons and fathers

Don't be afraid

To learn respect and pride

Know your ancestors

Keep the clan in mind

Come out boys

No need to hide

From that education

From that family

From your sisters

From your brothers

Keep the friendship

Keep the family

Keep the clan


Separation Bar

Alaska RSI Contacts


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

Regional Coordinators

Andy Hope
Southeast Regional Coordinator
8128 Pinewood Drive
Juneau, Alaska 99801

Branson Tungujan
Iñupiaq Regional Coordinator
PO Box 1796
Nome, AK 99762

Velma Schafer
Athabascan Regional Coordinator
PO Box 410
Ester, Alaska 99725

Teri Schneider
Aleutians Regional Coordinator
Kodiak Island Borough School District
722 Mill Bay Road, North Star
Kodiak, Alaska 99615

John Angaiak
Yup’ik Regional Coordinator
PO Box 219
Bethel, AK 99559
907-543 7423
907-543-2776 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
Old University Park School, Room 158
University of Alaska Fairbanks
P.O. Box 756730
Fairbanks, AK 99775-6730

(907) 474-1902 phone
(907) 474-1957 fax

Newsletter Editor: Dixie Dayo

Layout & Design: Paula Elmes

Arrow 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