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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 7, Issue 2, March/April 2002

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In This Issue:

Native Languages in Alaska

UAF Summer 2002 Program in Cross-Cultural Studies for Alaskan Educators

ANKN Curriculum Corner

2002 Alaska Native Literature Award Winners

The Imaginarium Meets With Rural Communities

Athabascan Region:

Tribute to the Minto Elders
Athabascan Language
Beth Leonard Coordinates Athabascan Language Programs

  Yup’ik Region:

Yup’ik Treasures of the Past

Alutiiq Region:

Academy of Elders/Science Camp 2002
Alutiiq Elder Lights the Way

Observing Locally, Connecting Globally

AKRSI Welcomes Judy Jaworski

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Native Languages in Alaska

by Ruthie Sampson

(Keynote address to the 2002 Bilingual Multicultural Education and Equity Conference)

Minnie Qapviatchialuk Aliitchak Gray of AmblerGood Morning respected Elders, honored guests, educators and parents! Uummatitchauraqtuami nuna ixiqsraqtiqman nakuqsixiqtufa. My heart was really beating fast earlier but I feel calmer after the earthquake. I worked in Anchorage in 1978 with Tupou Pulu and attended the BMEEC over the years for a total of 10 to 15 times. I was thinking that if you attend often enough, sooner or later they will ask you to be the keynote speaker—I think this was Mike’s way of making sure I get here early. Actually, last night I set my alarm clock to 6:30 am. I didn’t want to be late. During the night, I woke up at 4:30 am and went back to sleep. I woke up again and it was still 4:30 am! I went back to sleep again and this time when I woke up it was 2:30 am and then I realized I had been dreaming that I was waking up at 4:30 am!

It is an honor for me to be here today. I thank the BMEEC planning committee, Bernice Tetpon and also Mike Travis, for convincing me that I had something to say to you today. I am here representing the Iñupiaq language, meaning the people who live in Northwest Alaska and the North Slope. I am from Selawik, Alaska and I work in Kotzebue for the Northwest Arctic Borough School District.

I am also here on behalf of our Elder, Minnie Qapviatchialuk Aliitchak Gray of Ambler, Alaska. She is not here due to a mild stroke she experienced this winter.

Minnie is representative of the first Iñupiaq language teachers who began to teach in the schools in 1972 when the bilingual programs were first implemented in Alaska schools. She was part of a wonderful group of enthusiastic, fun Iñupiaq language and culture teachers who took great pride and delight in learning to read and write in their native language. They actually sacrificed several summers while others were gathering food to attend workshops in Barrow, Nome and Kotzebue. They were fortunate to have people such as Martha Aiken, Edna McLean, Larry Kaplan, Hannah Loon and Tupou Pulu to teach them Iñupiaq literacy, grammar and to help them develop materials for classroom use. In those days, sufficient funds allowed all the staff to attend the BMEEC and what fun they had. They have recounted story after story about their cross-cultural experiences when they traveled to Anchorage. Some were afraid to answer the phone in their rooms. When they went to the restaurant, they would often order chicken-fried steak thinking it was chicken. When they went to the stores, one lady said she often grinned at the store dummies thinking it was someone standing. One time, a whole bunch of them were crossing the street and walking when the sign said walk. When it said "don’t walk" guess what they did? They ran across the street! Even though they experienced all this, they were always so willing to try things out and paid close attention to learn as much as they could in the workshops they attended.

Several years ago, we nominated Minnie Gray to be the bilingual educator of the year. This was her philosophy of education. She said it in Iñupiaq and we translated it into English (listen very carefully because in this, you can hear everything that needs to be included in a curriculum to teach about a language and culture):

"Iñupiaq should be taught at an early age. I have seen that the younger students are, the more they learn. It is fun to teach these young children. As an Iñupiaq language instructor, I realized that children need motivation to learn. I motivated my students by offering them variety. They cannot learn by only writing, so I took them out for field trips and taught them about the things that grow. Same thing in the spring. When they got tired of writing, I took them outside and taught them the names of the many different birds that migrate north. This motivated them tremendously. I had projects for them such as skin sewing and other crafts, including making birch bark basket. I allowed them to play Iñupiaq games when they became restless. Sometimes, I even took them home and prepared an Iñupiaq dish for them to sample, such as cranberry pudding or some other dish. Other times, I taught them how to make Eskimo ice cream. I also boiled the head of mudshark, which has many bones and, as we ate it, I told them the individual names of the bones. This is an interesting project and the students think it is fun. For added variety, I told them Iñupiaq stories and legends.

"Students should learn about life in school. They should learn practical skills such as skin sewing and cooking. Many students need these basic skills. They should know the names of our Native foods and know how to prepare them. It is practical to learn these skills because our environment is going to be the same in spite of the changes in our lifestyles. We will still need warm clothing and we will still need to gather food. Students should know about the weather because we cannot predict what the coming seasons’ weather will be like. They should also know their regional geography. They should know their local subsistence areas, their trails and place names of creeks, rivers and other landmarks. They should be able to know where they are and be able to communicate exactly where they are as they travel out in the country for it is a matter of survival."

So there you have it. Everything you need to write a Native language and culture curriculum. Minnie was one of this great group of Iñupiaq language and culture instructors who taught what they knew to the students and I give them all tribute today. Over the years, most of this core group retired and we have been struggling to replace them as fewer and fewer candidates who speak Iñupiaq fluently fill their positions.

During the next three days, our BMEEC theme will be "Bilingual and Cross Cultural Education: Tools for Community Empowerment and Academic Success." That’s a mouthful and has so much to say to us. We also have so much to say to each other because we come here with our collective knowledge and each and every one of you has something valuable to share with another person. As I thought of what to say to you today I had titled it "Living in a Modern World Without Losing Our Native Identity."

I wanted to talk about how we as Natives need to continue to share our heritage and history to our students so that they can cope in this modern world and still have a good sense of who they are and feel that same comfort of being one with nature when they are out in the country. I believe, as Natives, that is one of our greatest treasures—something we should continue to nurture in our children and grandchildren. We must have a vision for our youth that they can share. What are we doing in this conference to expand this vision?

What is Community Empowerment and Academic Success?

Most of us would define academic success in terms of modern schooling, saying it is to be educated in school and home and go on to higher learning so that you can get a good job and have a successful and meaningful life. I’m sure you have your own definition.

How can we make bilingual education and cross-cultural education tools for community empowerment and academic success? When we talk about bilingual education, we are talking about speaking two languages. As an Iñupiaq, I will talk about the Native language experience in Alaska. When the Guidelines for Strengthening Indigenous Languages were being developed, my concern was that someone needed to be responsible for providing a forum in which our people who had been punished for speaking Iñupiaq in school could come together and tell their story so that their experience could be validated and they could hear an apology from the school system and some avenue for forgiveness and healing would begin.

The reason I brought this up is because it is a recurring story that I hear and in a way prevents grandparents and parents from participating effectively in the school system. When bilingual programs first began in the early 70s and as they continued in the 80s, some Elders expressed shock and surprise that the language was going to be taught in the school, because when they were young, they had been punished for speaking even one word in the school playground. As young children, they had a hard time seeing the difference between stealing, lying and speaking Iñupiaq because they got punished for doing any of those. Now years later, they were told it was okay and, today, there are people in their 70s who still feel hurt when they remember what happened and I think many people think no one wants to hear their story because it happened so long ago and we should forget it and go on with our lives.

We must realize that this action taken against our parents and grandparents had ramifications that occurred over the 20th century and an attitude of shame and humiliation toward the teaching of the Native language was passed from parent to child unintentionally, unknowingly and innocently, like Harold Napolean described in his book Yuuyaraq: The Way of the Human Being. He wrote that the symptoms experienced by the survivors of the influenza epidemic are the same symptoms of survivors of post-traumatic stress disorder and that the present disease of the soul and the psyche is passed from parent to child unintentionally, unknowingly and innocently.

Let us take time to reflect and understand what happened to bring us to where we are today:

William Hensley

In his 1981 speech at the BMEEC, Iñupiaq William Hensley said the following: "The policy of repressing the Native language in the school system has had the effect of repressing the ancient spirit of the people that enabled us to survive over many thousands of years. The values that have been beaten into our people were in direct contrast to the very values that enabled us to survive. In the place of common effort, individuality has been made sacred. In the place of cooperation, competition is fostered. In the place of sharing, acquisitiveness in our lives is pummeled into our minds through the media. It is no wonder that there are so-called Native problems."

Eben Hopson

Eben Hopson, at a bilingual conference, said the following which appeared in Cross Cultural Studies in Education: "Eighty-seven years ago, when we were persuaded to send our children to Western educational institutions, we began to lose control over the education of our youth. Many of our people believed that formal educational systems would help us acquire the scientific knowledge of the Western world. However, it was more than technological knowledge that the educators wished to impart. The educational policy was to attempt to assimilate us into the American mainstream at the expense of our culture. The schools were committed to teaching us to forget our language and Iñupiaq heritage. There are many of you parents who, like me, were physically punished if we spoke one Iñupiaq word. Many of us can still recall the sting of the wooden ruler across the palms of our hands and the shame of being forced to stand in the corner of the room, face to the wall, for half an hour if we were caught uttering one word of our Native language. This outrageous treatment and the exiling of our youth to school in foreign environments were to remain the common practices of the educational system. For eighty-seven years, the BIA tried to destroy our culture through the education of our children. Those who would destroy our culture did not succeed. However, it was not without cost. Many of our people have suffered. We all know the social ills we endure today. Recently, I heard a member of the school personnel say that many of our Iñupiaq children have poor self-concepts. Is it any wonder, when the school systems fail to provide the Iñupiaq student with experiences which would build positive self-concepts when the Iñupiaq language and culture are almost totally excluded?"

Changes in the 80s and 90s

Since these speeches were given in the 70s and 80s, much has changed. William Hensley was instrumental in developing the Iñupiaq Ilitqusiat Spirit Movement in Northwest Alaska, where the values were listed and parents were encouraged to speak Iñupiaq to their children. Immersion programs have been developed in Barrow, Bethel, Arctic Village, Kotzebue and other places around Alaska. We have powerful web sites such as the Alaska Native Curriculum and Teacher Development Project created by Paul Ongtooguk and his staff and the Alaska Native Knowledge Network, a by-product of the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative, where we receive information from Sean Topkok under the direction of Ray Barnhardt, Oscar Kawagley and Frank Hill.

Although we have made some progress since then, the effects of the punishment inflicted on our parents or grandparents for speaking Iñupiaq lingers today. I was born in 1954 and when I went to school this did not happen to us. My mother lived in camp much of her childhood years so she didn’t speak much English when I was young. My father, on the other hand, had attended school until he was in the eighth grade. He had heard stories of how people were punished for speaking Iñupiaq and knew the importance of speaking English. When I was very young, my mother’s cousin and I were playing and speaking Iñupiaq with a high tone English accent saying something like this: Uvuÿa aquvillagutin. We thought we spoke English when we raised our voices and played "teacher." Well, my father pulled me over and said in Iñupiaq, "Daughter, you must try your best to learn to speak English." From that moment on, I did my best to speak English to him, but I spoke Iñupiatun to my mother and grandmother. Only recently have I started speaking in full Iñupiaq sentences to my father. I know he told me this because he wanted me to succeed in school. My father’s generation did not have the luxury of welfare or government assistance, so their goal was for us to learn as much as we could so we could have good jobs that provided food and shelter for us. I dare say that at some point in the 60s, it seemed like the goal for many young women was to move to a city and work somewhere with a typewriter. Just come home once a year and see how everybody’s doing. That happened with some people, but they found that they missed home, missed Iñupiaq food and all that goes on in a village.

Last year, we had invited an Elder from Kiana by the name of Tommy Sheldon to speak to the school staff about the history of Kiana. He spoke about how the schools were segregated when he was a child. Only the children of white people or half breeds attended school until they set up a school for Native children. He spoke about how he was punished for speaking Iñupiaq at school. The most common form of punishment for people who tell their story was to stand in the corner or next to the black board with your nose matched to a dot on the board. This was punishment for being Iñupiaq and speaking your own language. A beautiful language that had been used to communicate and verbalize concepts from a world view that existed for many years and helped the Iñupiat to survive in the Arctic.

Later he said that if they spoke Iñupiaq, then they were not allowed to attend the school party. If you didn’t go to the school party, you didn’t get to eat cookies and juice. That’s when I thought, "We lost some of our language to cookies and juice." Today, the grandchildren do not speak the language because of this cookie and this juice.

When I spoke to my father, he recounted that boys who were older than him would refrain from speaking Iñupiaq just to attend a school party where beans were served. So we lost some of our language for a bowl of beans.

I also spoke to my friend Bertha Sheldon of Shungnak. She said that when they spoke Iñupiaq, they would stand in a corner.

They would also have to hold books from an outstretched hand and would be barred from attending the school party at the end of the month if they didn’t.

If they couldn’t go to the party, they would go to the window and watch the fun the students were having inside. She particularly remembers when apples were hung from the ceiling with string and the students raced to see who would finish eating an apple first without using their hands. It looked like so much fun and the apples looked so delicious. Mmm, they thought, this time I will not speak an Iñupiaq word. Later, they couldn’t even look inside the window anymore because the curtains were drawn across the window.

Then I spoke to a former Iñupiaq teacher named Amelia Aaluk Gray of Kobuk. She said that if they spoke Iñupiaq in the school grounds, someone would tell on them and they would receive a black mark by their name on a piece of paper. If they got so many marks, then they could not go to the school to play games on Fridays (an equivalent to game night.) She said the teachers only wanted them to learn English so that they could learn what was taught in school. She was not bitter about what happened because by this time, she had learned to forgive them and tried to understand what had happened.

Okay, so we’ve heard those stories before. They happened many years ago. Right now is the time to move on.

Well, after Tommy spoke, a woman younger than me remembered how she had to hold books with an outstretched hand. She remembers the shame and humiliation and says that today, as a parent, it makes it difficult for her to speak Iñupiaq to her children although she speaks Iñupiaq to her spouse, siblings and parents.

Another woman shared with me that when she moved from the village to Kotzebue, where more people spoke English, whenever she started to speak Iñupiaq, her sister would whisper and scold her not to speak Iñupiaq. Especially since she spoke a slightly different dialect from the one spoken in Kotzebue.

That is when I realized that this problem has to be dealt with. I am not a therapist and I have no quick solutions. Because a public apology was not made soon enough, the attitude about the language silently crept from generation to generation during the 50s, 60s and 70s. Now there is a new young generation who wonder why their parents did not speak Iñupiaq to them.

Forgiveness and Healing

If we are to make parents and grandparents feel welcome in the school, we must invite them into the school and publicly apologize for what happened to them or their parents in the past. We must hear their story and validate it. We must not ignore it or it will continue to fester and more bitterness will grow until we have nothing left. We still have hope that more of the language can be shared and spoken in all its beauty for it is a language of the heart.

The balance of this article will appear in the next issue of Sharing Our Pathways.

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Alaska Staff Development Network• Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative
Center for Cross-Cultural Studies • UAF Summer Sessions • Northwest Campus

UAF Summer 2002 Program in
Cross-Cultural Studies for Alaskan Educators

The Center for Cross-Cultural Studies, the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative, the Alaska Staff Development Network, the UAF Summer Sessions and the Northwest Campus invite educators from throughout Alaska to participate in a series of two- and three-credit courses focusing on the implementation of the Alaska Standards for Culturally Responsive Schools.

The courses may be taken individually or as a six-, nine- or twelve-credit sequence. The courses may be used to meet the state multicultural education requirement for licensure, and/or they may be applied to graduate degree programs at UAF.

Rural Academy for Culturally Responsive Schools

May 28–June 1, 2002Northwest Campus, Nome, Alaska

The five-day intensive Rural Academy, sponsored by the Alaska Staff Development Network, the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative and the UAF Northwest Campus, will consist of the following educational opportunities:

Each enrollee will be able to participate in two out of seven two-day workshops that will be offered demonstrating how the Alaska Standards for Culturally Responsive Schools are being implemented in communities throughout rural Alaska.

Two panel sessions will be offered in which participants will be able to hear first-hand from key educational practitioners and policymakers from throughout the state.

  • A day-long field trip will allow participants to meet and interact with Elders and other key people and visit sites in the Nome area.

  • Participants will share successful strategies and programs from throughout the state.

  • Participants will have the option to complete a follow-up project relevant to their own work situation.


Ray Barnhardt and workshop presenters

Credit options

ED 695, Rural Academy for Culturally Responsive Schools (2 cr.)
ED/CCS 613, Alaska Standards for Culturally Resp. Sch. (3cr.)


Cross-Cultural Orientation Program for Teachers

June 3–21, 2002

The Center for Cross-Cultural Studies and UAF Summer Sessions will be offering the annual Cross-Cultural Orientation Program (X-COP) for teachers, beginning on June 3, 2002 and running through June 21, 2002, including a week (June 8–15) out at the Old Minto Cultural Camp on the Tanana River with Athabascan Elders from the village of Minto. The program is designed for teachers and others who wish to gain some background familiarity with the cultural environment and educational history that makes teaching in Alaska, particularly in rural communities, unique, challenging and rewarding. In addition to readings, films, guest speakers and seminars during the first and third weeks of the program, participants will spend a week in a traditional summer fish camp under the tutelage of Athabascan Elders who will share their insights and perspectives on the role of education in contemporary rural Native communities. Those who complete the program will be prepared to enter a new cultural and community environment and build on the educational foundation that is already in place in the hearts and minds of the people who live there.


Ray Barnhardt and Old Minto Elders

Credit option

ED 610, Education and Cultural Processes (3 cr.)


Native Ways of Knowing

July 15–August 2, 2002

The third course available in the cross-cultural studies series is a three-week seminar focusing on the educational implications of "Native ways of knowing." The course will examine teaching and learning practices reflected in indigenous knowledge systems, and how those practices may be incorporated into the schooling process. Examples drawn from the work of the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative and the Alaska Native Knowledge Network will be shared with participants.


Oscar Kawagley, Ph.D.

Credit option

ED/ANS 461, Native Ways of Knowing (3 cr.)
CCS 608, Indigenous Knowledge Systems (3 cr.)



For further information about the Rural Academy, contact UAF Northwest Campus at 907-443-2201, 907-443-5602 (fax) or the Alaska Staff Development Network at 2204 Douglas Highway, Suite 100, Douglas, Alaska 99824, 907-364-3801, 907-364-3805 (fax), e-mail or go to the ASDN web site at

For further information on the other courses offered in Fairbanks, please contact UAF Summer Sessions office at (907) 474-7021, or on the web at

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ANKN Curriculum Corner

by Ray Barnhardt

The ANKN Curriculum Corner highlights curriculum resources available through the Alaska Native Knowledge Network that are compatible with the tenets outlined in the Alaska Standards for Culturally Responsive Schools. The theme for this issue focuses on resources for working with Elders and incorporating Native ways of knowing into the curriculum. We welcome submissions of curriculum resources and ideas that you think might be of interest to others, as well as descriptions of curriculum initiatives that are currently underway or for which you are seeking sites or teachers who are willing to pilot-test new materials. Information on obtaining copies of the materials described in this column is available through the Alaska Native Knowledge Network at, or at (907) 474-1902.

Gwich’in Native Elders: Not Just Knowledge, But a Way of Looking at the World

A monograph by Shawn Wilson describing the role of Elders in shaping educational practices in a region, including drawing the distinction between an "Elder" and an elderly person.

Tlingit Moon and Tides Curriculum Guide

A set of standards-based curriculum units developed by Dolly Garza, drawing on both Tlingit and Western knowledge of the moon and tides.

"Native Ways of Knowing"

A section included in the Alaska Curriculum Frameworks document providing guidelines to school districts on the integration of indigenous knowledge in curriculum development (also published on CD-ROM by EED).

A Point Hope Partnership With the Iñupiat Elders of Tikigaq

An article by Steve Grubis and Connie Oomittuk that describes how the Tikigaq School in Point Hope established an Elders-in-Residence program and incorporated Elders into all educational activities.

Handbook for Developing Culturally-Responsive Science Curriculum

A concise teachers guide developed by Sidney Stephens which includes a section by Roby Littlefield on how to work with Elders (

Education Indigenous to Place: Western Science Meets Native Reality

An article addressing some of the underlying themes associated with integrating Native ways of knowing into the education system.

Guidelines for Respecting Working With Aboriginal Elders

A "handbook for institution-based health care professionals based on the teachings of Aboriginal Elders and cultural teachers." Prepared by Jonathan H. Ellerby and available from the Native Studies Press, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada (204-474-9899, e-mail:

Guidelines for Respecting Cultural Knowledge

A set of guidelines that address issues of concern in the documentation, representation and utilization of traditional cultural knowledge as they relate to the role of various participants, including Elders, authors, curriculum developers, classroom teachers, publishers and researchers.

Old Minto Camp

A 40-minute video of the cross-cultural orientation program week-long camp experience for teachers associated with the "Native ways of knowing" initiative.

Nutemllaput: Our Very Own

A 40-minute video depicting ways in which Yup’ik language and culture are being incorporated in the schools in the Yup’ik region of the AKRSI.

To Show What We Know

A 40-minute video documenting the activities associated with ANSES science camps and Native science fairs.

Passing On

A 30-minute video documenting the role and contributions of Alaska Native Elders to the in- and out-of-school education of Alaska Native children.

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2002 Alaska Native Literature Award Winners

by Andy Hope

The 2002 Celebration of Alaska Native Literature took place on February 3, 2002 at the Anchorage Museum of History and Art. The Alaska Native Literature awards were presented at this ceremony, which took place in conjunction with the Native Educators’ Conference. The celebration was sponsored by the Honoring Alaska’s Indigenous Literature (HAIL) working committee, with underwriting support from the Alaska Federation of Natives/Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative, Cook Inlet Tribal Council, Tlingit Readers, Raven’s Bones Press and the Anchorage Museum of History and Art.

The awards program and poster were designed and produced by Paula Elmes. The award plaques were designed and produced by Ben Snowball. The HAIL working committee members are Andy Hope, Bernadette Yaayuk Alvanna-Stimpfle, Virginia Ned, Lolly Carpluk, Moses Dirks, Laurie Evans, Esther Ilutsik, Dorothy Larson, Marie Olson, Olga Pestrikoff, Teri Schneider, Sophie Shield, Martha Stackhouse and Sean Topkok.

2002 Alaska Native Literature Award Winners

Frances Degnan for Under the Arctic Sun: The Life and Times of Frank and Ada Degnan, 1998, Cottonwood Bark.

Moses Dirks for Aleut Tales and Narratives, co-edited by Knut Bergsland, Alaska Native Language Center, 1990.

Erma Lawrence for her lifetime work as Haida oral tradition bearer, storyteller, educator and translator.

Michael Lekanoff for his work transcribing and arranging Russian Orthodox choral pieces in Aleut and Slavonic.

Elsie Mather for Cauyarnariuq (It is time for drumming), Lower Kuskokwim School District, 1985.

Kisautaq Leona Okakok for her transcription Puiguitkaat (Things We Cannot Forget), Library of Congress, 1996.

Mary Peterson for contributions to Birth and Rebirth on an Alaskan Island: The Life of an Alutiiq Healer, author Joanne B. Mulcahy, University of Georgia Press, 2000.

Emma Sam for Yú.á (They Say), booklet, CD and cassette tape, Teslin Tlingit Council and Aboriginal Language Services, Yukon, 2000

Posthumous Awards

Howard Rock for Lifetime Achievement in Alaska Native Literature.

Mary Tall Mountain (Koyukon Athabascan) for Lifetime Achievement in Alaska Native Literature.

Peter Kalifornsky for Lifetime Achievement in Alaska Native Literature.

2002 Alaska Native Literature Award Winners


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The Imaginarium Meets With Rural Communities

Science Center Works With Village Leaders, Families and Educators to Develop New Health and Science Outreach Programs

Kids love learning and they love science! Parents, educators and communities in Alaska recognize the importance of health and science education. They are asking for more opportunities for their students to experience science while also exploring connections between science and their everyday life and the environment. The Imaginarium heard this loud and clear while visiting communities and talking with people throughout Alaska.

Fortunately, the Imaginarium, Alaska’s own science discovery center, has a wonderful opportunity to address these needs and priorities. Recent grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute will fund the development of new health and science programs and will increase our ability to offer meaningful, hands-on science and health experiences to villages and communities throughout Alaska.

The Imaginarium will develop a variety of programs and resources, such as exciting and entertaining assembly shows designed to spark interest in a science topic and get the audience motivated to learn more. Classroom programs will focus on hands-on, discovery-based learning while community programming, in which families are encouraged to experience science together, will also be a priority. To extend the learning into the classroom, the Imaginarium will design kits, resources and training opportunities for educators, including teacher aides.

It is important to the Imaginarium, and indeed the very core of the outreach program’s vision, to ensure that these programs are guided by and based on the needs and interests of the communities they will serve. We will also strive to create programs that acknowledge and respect traditional knowledge, as well as consider the place, culture and past experience of the learner. To this end, we are visiting communities in each of the five geocultural regions of Alaska to address the needs and interests of educators, parents, Elders, healthcare providers, students and community members.

The Imaginarium is guided in this effort by a Science Outreach Advisory Committee made up of cultural leaders, educators, scientists and healthcare providers and chaired by Lydia Scott of NANA Development Corporation. The co-directors and regional coordinators for the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative serve on this committee and have been instrumental in helping the Imaginarium identify communities to visit and individuals and organizations to contact. The Imaginarium wants to thank AKRSI, the Advisory Committee and all of the communities we have visited so far—Kodiak, Port Lions, Juneau, Angoon, Togiak, Nome, Savoonga and Koyuk—as well as all of the wonderful people we have met along the way.

We have gained so much knowledge through visiting rural communities, attending meetings such as the Native Educator’s Conference and the Native Education Summit, exploring the Alaska Native Knowledge Network web site, reading the Sharing Our Pathways newsletter and other publications and listening to Elders and local experts. The Imaginarium team also realizes that there is more to learn and we welcome input or ideas at any point along this journey.

This important input and feedback will guide the development of new Imaginarium outreach programs for the next four years. Each year the Imaginarium will develop a set of health science programs around a central theme. These will be piloted in ten communities throughout Alaska and then become a part of the Imaginarium’s Science Caravan program the following year, making them available to all of Alaska. We will also introduce three new general science outreach programs each year to keep our offerings diverse and relevant.

Your community does not have to wait to experience the fun and excitement of the Imaginarium’s Science Caravan programs. Check out our current outreach programs, such as The Big Chill, Radical Reactions or Rockin’ Reptiles on our web site

For more information, contact Mia Jackson at 276-3179 or

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Athabascan Region:
Tribute to the Minto Elders

This is the second part of a tribute to recognize the Minto Elders for their valuable contributions to the Cross-cultural Camp in Old Minto each year and for sharing their culture with all of us. Descriptions are from interviews with Elders, compilation of descriptions written by Minto students for the Denakkanaaga Elder-Youth Conference 2001, the Minto Cultural Atlas and from other sources. Photos are from the Cultural Heritage and Education Institute archives, unless otherwise marked.

Minnie Titus

Minnie TitusMinnie Titus was born May 28, 1910 and she grew up in Old Minto. Minnie’s father was Chief Charlie, the leader who founded Old Minto in the early 1900s. Her mother’s name was Laura and she remarried after the Chief’s death. Minnie is the lone survivor of Chief Charlie. Minnie married George Titus in 1928 and they had eight children. Minnie did a lot of things and she worked hard when she was young, including sewing, making birch-bark baskets, setting muskrat traps and hunting. Minnie attends the Old Minto camp almost every year. She is good at giving advice and talking to the young people of Minto.

Neal Charlie

Neal CharlieNeal Charlie was born to Moses and Bessie Charlie on October 10, 1919 in a camp by Washington Crossing. He grew up in Old Minto and he went to St. Mark’s Mission in Nenana. He ran away back to Minto after three years and helped the family with hunting rabbits and "chicken." Neal worked summers on the Riverboat Nenana and he married Geraldine on August 27, 1947. Neal remembers that in Old Minto, they were all hard working people, " . . . we had to work hard, to get what we thought we needed. We didn’t expect checks or money. We went on trapline and sell the fur. People used to stop for gathering, fun for a little while, not all the time." Neal’s hobby was driving dogs and they used to hitch up and go for rides in the evening like a car. You learn responsibility from driving dogs since you have to feed them, hitch the dogs and care for them. He also used to make sleds. Neal recalls that, "In the old days, you had to learn stories by listening, by accepting it. The old people would tell you stories and tell it to you again." And "You should remember those things . . . there are too many books and computers that think for you." Neal says he always keeps encouraging young people to do something to keep busy, like chop wood. He hopes that he can say the right thing to help people who could use it 50 years from now and that is why the Elders talk. He concluded by saying, "Feel free to ask what you want, we’re willing to talk."

Geraldine Charlie

Geraldine CharlieGeraldine Charlie was born to Teddy Charlie and Annie Alexander on September 25, 1929 in a camp out in the Minto Flats. She remembers many things about growing up in Old Minto, especially when she was sad when the teachers told her she couldn’t go to school anymore. There was just one room in the school and with new students coming every year, she was forced to leave after fifth grade. Geraldine was raised by her grandmother and spent a lot of time watching fish nets, fish traps and snaring rabbits. She married Neal Charlie in August 1947 and had six girls and four boys. It was really hard to live only on subsistence and Neal got a job working on sections of the Alaska Railroad. They lived in Dunbar, Healy and Dome. Their kids were old enough to go to school, but the only way they could have was to go out to boarding school. Geraldine likes to work on birch-bark baskets, pick berries and pick roots for baskets. Her advice for young people is to get a hold of themselves and not go too much on Western side. She says, "We were born as Natives to be Natives . . . keep your culture as much as you can because it is our identity. We are Native Indians. I believe we were put on earth for reasons, God has his own way. God gave us our Native culture and I believe we need to hang on to it, mostly our Native language and the way we live, like eating our Native food."

Jonathan David

Jonathan DavidJonathan David was born September 1, 1910. He arrived in Old Minto from Nenana when he was eight years old after his mother married Louie Silas. He remembers learning how to survive off the land from his stepfather and uncle. He spent a lot of time trapping and working as a carpenter. He married Rosie David and he worked for many years as a janitor at the BIA school in Old Minto. He says he never learned how to read but he worked hard and they sent him to Sitka to learn how to repair the generators for the school. He also worked in Nenana on the dock for about five years. One memorable year at the Old Minto Camp, he built a canoe frame with the help of camp participants that became an important part of the Old Minto Camp video. He says "Indian life is good and you have to use your brain." When asked about the future for youth he says, "you go to school, you learn, you do better, if not you’ll be nothing . . . don’t think of liquor, liquor is a hard life." Jonathan says that "Indian life, it goes a long ways . . . listen to people talk and it will come back to you when you need it."

Note: Watch for the next issue with more on the Minto Elders.

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Athabascan Language
Undergraduate and Graduate Fellowships


2002–2003 Award Amounts:$10,000

Date of Awards: September 2002 ($ 5,000) & January 2003 ($ 5,000)

Deadline: Friday, March 29, 2002

The Alaska Native Language Center announces four competitive awards for students interested in focusing on Alaska Athabascan language study and teaching. Award recipients must be in good academic standing and accepted into the Denaqenage’ Career Ladder Program* and admitted to a relevant UAF bachelor’s degree program (for example, Linguistics, Education, Alaska Native Studies) or the UAF Master of Education program.

Preference will be given to qualified candidates studying one of the following languages: Tanacross, Upper Tanana or Dena’ina. However, consideration will be given to all applicants studying or intending to study an Alaska Athabascan language.

For more information and an application packet, please contact Patrick Marlow at 1-877-810-2534 or

*The Denaqenage’ Career Ladder Program is a DOE Title VII grant funded partnership between UAF’s Alaska Native Language Center, the Interior Athabascan Tribal College and the Alaska Gateway, Lake and Peninsula, Iditarod Area, Yukon-Koyukuk and Yukon Flats School Districts and Galena City Schools.

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Beth Leonard Coordinates Athabascan Language Programs

Beth Leonard has been hired by the Interior Athabascan Tribal College as a language coordinator-instructor. This position is funded by a five-year Department of Education Title VII grant through the UAF Alaska Native Language Center. As coordinator, she is responsible for overall language programming for the IATC including organizing community classes for Athabascan languages represented within Tanana Chiefs Conference region. The IATC Athabascan Language Program will focus on forming collaborative partnerships to assist in integrating Athabascan language with culturally-based programs in local communities and schools. The IATC will continue to work closely with the Athabascan Language Development Institute/Denaqenage’ Career Ladder Program to provide accredited Native language teacher education courses and language apprenticeship training and support. If you would like more information about the IATC Language Program, please contact Beth Leonard at 1-800-478-6822, ext. 3287 or send an e-mail to:

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Yup’ik Region:
Yup’ik Treasures of the Past

by Esther Ilutsik

Imagine opening a long-forgotten trunk filled with items that were collected over a hundred years ago and finding a pair of mittens made of fish skins with the most beautiful stitches and subtle decorations that blended in with the mittens. When you opened them, instead of a thumb pocket you found a hole! "What on earth happened here?" is the first thought that enters your mind, followed with the thought that these must be an unfinished pair of mittens and then gently put them aside.

In 1997 a group of Elders and educators traveled to the Museum fur Volkerkunde in Berlin, Germany to view Yup’ik items that were collected over a hundred years ago. Many of these items had not been seen by the Elders since their childhood and brought back many memories that at times were emotional but provided much valuable insight into a cultural group that has long been stereotyped. The photos taken during this visit were discussed by Elder Annie Blue of Togiak, who helped to present a workshop at the 2002 Native Educators’ Conference entitled "Yup’ik Treasurers of the Past". She was accompanied by Marie Meade, Yup’ik linguist; Ann Fienup-Riordan, anthropologist and myself.

The objects discussed were collected in 1881 by a thirty-year old Norwegian named John Adrian Jacobsen (jack-of-all-trades). He collected over 6000 items from Alaska alone and about one-third of those items came from the Yup’ik region. Many of them were slate blades, nephrite, amulets and other "stone-age" tools (items that were associated with "primitive" people of the world who fascinated the Europeans.) But he also collected everyday items that were used by women, men and children as well as ceremonial objects.

We made sure that all the items presented at the workshop were visually informative, but we also provided background information on how the items were used, the ritualistic aspects of the items and materials used to fashion them. This in-depth knowledge provided "fuel for the fire"; many inquires came from participants who were hungry for knowledge of their ancestral background but we had to move along with many lingering and unanswered questions.

We had initially hoped to select 20–40 items from the slides to include in a traveling museum exhibit, but the task of making a selection from all the items taken from our Yup’ik region over a hundred years ago was immense. I first thought that it could be done in a couple of hours with Elders and educators going through hundreds of slides and making selections of items that they would like to see in a traveling exhibit. Instead we only went through about a dozen slides when the time allocated for our session was up.

The plan now is to re-schedule a two-day session where the Elders can more carefully make the selections. As for the beautiful skin mittens, they were made in that fashion for a young women’s right of passage into womanhood. Details are for the women’s ears only!

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Alutiiq Region:
The Academy of Elders/Science Camp 2002

Students, teachers and other community members in our region have an opportunity to engage in learning activities that are culturally and environmentally relevant with Elders and other culture bearers in a remote camp setting. 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, Kodiak Tribal Council and the Native Village of Afognak are pleased to announce that, once again, this opportunity is available this summer during two, week-long camps at the "Dig Afognak" site on Qattenai, Afognak Island.



Camp #1: July 15-July 21

Camp #2: July 24-July 30



"Dig Afognak" site on Qattenai, Afognak Island


This opportunity is open to all Elders, educators, community members and students, grades 2–12 (young students may only be considered if they are successful applicants and are accompanied by a participating adult family member.) Applicants should have an interest in Alutiiq Native culture, language and ways of knowing as well as science, math or technology. Priority is given to those currently residing in the region, but all are invited to apply. Student applicants must be committed to completing a culturally- or environmentally-relevant project for the rural science fair this fall. All are invited! Apply early, as space is limited.

Application deadline is May 31!



Those who apply are asked to pay a minimal $30 registration fee.

If you have any questions or want more information call Teri Schneider at 486-9276 (work) or email:

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Alutiiq Elder Lights the Way

Lucille Davis, a Kodiak Island Elder from the village of KarlukLucille Davis, a Kodiak Island Elder from the village of Karluk, opened this year’s Native Educator’s Conference by lighting a traditional Alutiiq oil lamp and sharing a prayer with the attendees.

The rock oil lamp has been used in the northern cultures from Greenland to Kodiak Island as a means of providing light and heat. Some lamps are elaborate with animal and human figures carved from the solid rock. Others are simply utilitarian and made useful for packing in traveling gear and used on cold nights while hunting. Typically seal oil or other mammal fat was burned with a twisted wick of cotton grass or moss. Today, many use cooking oil and cotton wicks. Rock lamps continue to be used in homes and during ceremonies and gatherings throughout the Alutiiq region as a way to honor our ancestors while celebrating the continuity of our culture. Frequently, the youngest and oldest persons are asked to light the lamp as a way to live the tradition of passing on our ways from one generation to the next.

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Observing Locally, Connecting Globally

2002 Summer Institute for Educators

Observing Locally, Connecting Globally (OLCG) is a NSF-funded science education project based at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). The goal of this program is to provide Alaskan teachers and students with opportunities to engage in global change research focused on the local environment and connected to larger issues of global change.

We invite you to participate in our third summer institute for teachers to be held in Fairbanks May 28–June 12, 2002. Participants will receive training and classroom support in the GLOBE curriculum (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment); current best practices in science education; the integration of local/traditional knowledge into environmental studies and collaboration with community and university scientists.

Anyone working with students is welcome. Priority will be given to people whose participation will add to or create a team at their site. We are especially encouraging teams from rural Alaska consisting of formal and informal educators, local experts in science or Native knowledge, resource specialists or administrators. We are also interested in teams of urban educators working with a large number of Native students.



Partial to full grant support for travel and per diem to attend this institute is provided.



4 credits, NRM 595 or ED 595



Dr. Elena Sparrow, Dr. Leslie Gordon and Sidney Stephens

For more information or an application, please contact:


Martha KopplinJoy School24 Margaret St.Fairbanks, AK 99701456-5469 phone, 456-1477

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Judy JaworskiAKRSI Welcomes Judy Jaworski

Judy Jaworski joined the Anchorage AKRSI staff at the Alaska Federation of Natives this year. Judy holds the position of administration assistant. She is responsible for managing office functions for statewide AKRSI/ARC programs. Judy is of Iñupiat and Yup’ik decent from Elim. She is married with six children and two grandchildren.

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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) 263-9876 phone
(907) 263-9869 fax

Regional Coordinators

Alutiiq/Unangax Region
Teri Schneider

Kodiak Island Borough School District
722 Mill Bay Road
Kodiak, Alaska 99615

Athabascan Region
Gerald Sam

Tanana Chiefs Conference, Inc.
Interior Athabascan Tribal College
122 First Ave, Suite 600
Fairbanks, AK 99701
907-452-8251 x3285

Iñupiaq Region
Branson Tungiyan

PO Box 1796
Nome, AK 99762

Southeast Region
Andy Hope

8128 Pinewood Drive
Juneau, Alaska 99801

Yup’ik Region
John Angaiak

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