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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 8, Issue 1, January/February 2003

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In This Issue:

Reviving Our Cultures and Languages: A Cup’ik Perspective

UAF Distance Education Course Offerings

WINHEC Initiates an Indigenous Accreditation System

Future Alaska Native Educators

2003 Native Educators’ Conference

Joy Means Being Touched by the Elements of the Earth!

Alaska U-DOC 2003

Components of Culturally-Responsive Schools

  AVCP Adopts Resolution

Iñupiaq Region: Integrating Culturally-Responsive School Standards in Education

Athabascan Region: Old Minto Cultural Orientation Program

The Southeast Region Native Education Forum

Unangan Region: The Right Way to Live as an Unanga{

Yup’ik/Cup’ik Region: Kuspuk Native Educators Get Organized

AKRSI Welcomes Katie Bourdon

AKRSI Contacts

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Reviving Our Cultures and Languages: A Cup’ik Perspective

by John F. Pingayak

The anchor for any healthy society is culture: it determines behavior through traditional beliefs and observances; it also governs the life of the people. The foundation for any culture is language, the means of communication which ties the society together. For Alaska Natives, the last 95 years have been such an erosion of culture, cultural institutions and languages that the basis for Alaska Native societies has been undermined resulting in confusion, especially among the young.

John Pingayak plays the drum
John Pingayak plays the drum in a classroom

Simplicity vs. Complexity

Our ancestors knew exactly what they wanted because they formed and communicated around the circle of life. This is why our Elders are knowledgeable in survival today. They acquired the knowledge by starving and experiencing hunger when the food was scarce. For us to analyze our cultures and our languages, whether they may be simple or complex, will open a thought system that will require high-level cognitive thinking skills. The documentation of our way of life has primarily been written by the outside educators and anthropologists. Where are the Cup’ik interpretations of what has been going on with our people? With that in mind, I will explain my concerns and aspirations for our own Native people of Alaska.

We usually try to make our immediate tasks simple so we can complete our goals one step at a time. We do not try to take on too many objectives at once that will lead to failure. In our Native ways we try to make things as simple as possible which may be why we do less talking and more nonverbal communications. Our way of life may look simple, but it is really complicated within our own philosophies of living.

Following our traditional values is simple when they are reinforced based on the training we have received at a very young age. Our language is simple when we are talked to in the same language from the time we’re born. Our Elders practice repeating lessons and stories over and over again, yet they never say "It’s boring." It is very important that we develop an outlook on life based on learning about our own ways and traditions. Respect and honor are used to acquire knowledge and wisdom. Nothing comes to us free–we have to work hard for everything. Just as our Elders tell us, laziness and sleepiness will become a poor way of living.

Influence of Dominant Society

I remember when I was a boy, I only knew Cup’ik and heard about all that my parents went through. My parents and their extended family used to spend all of their time trying to survive. The families spent their time in spring, summer and fall camps. I have experienced everything they went through, especially their subsistence way of life. Although men went to canneries in Bristol Bay, the influence of Western culture was not too great in those days. As a boy I used to wonder if we were the only race in the whole world. I would look to the horizon and wonder who would be alive, like me, beyond that horizon. Of course, I did not have aspirations like Columbus, but my frame of thought was on the same track. Since then, I have seen many other cultures way beyond my expectations. I have traveled to the Soviet Union twice, Brisbane, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji.

Today, my saddest experience is seeing my culture dying without enough effort and adequate solutions to revive it. I’m sorry to say, but most of the programs that deal with our own Native people are not working. Please let me explain. I have been like a broken record, telling everyone that programs are not working because we, the real people, are being overlooked to plan, administer and teach in those programs. Too many of our people are relying on state and federal government for welfare, health care, food stamps and energy assistance. Because of these kinds of outside assistance, our people are forgetting how to work for their own needs.

Self-Determination and Governance

We have not been allowed the chance to determine our own destiny. Most often, when self-determination and self-governance comes into play for our people, many of the federal and state leaders become uptight and do everything they can to block the efforts of our people through courts and legislation. We have not been allowed full power to take care of our own needs. When will that time come? Many of our problems exist because we appear helpless in acquiring the funds to run the programs. In order to run these programs that are vital to the existence of our people we need funding, but when we ask for funds we have to categorize our people as "high risk." How can our people heal if we are not considered fit to live and be like everybody else and have control over our own destiny?

Many years ago we never knew how to be business or corporate leaders or that we could be legislators, teachers, doctors and managers. Now we have awakened from a deep sleep and are beginning to realize that we can take care of it all. We have learned that we can determine our own way of life. We learned we can take over our schools. We learned we can govern ourselves without influence from the outside world. It is up to us to take our future into our own hands.

In this journey of our lives, we all need to start learning from each other. I have given you some of the negative aspects of our Cup’ik lives. Our way of life was a subsistence economy and now much of it has changed to a cash economy. Although our way of life has been influenced by the Western world, we still possess our traditional values, many of which are intended for all races. My Grandpa told me that no matter where we are, we are talking about the same concerns.

We still teach about our traditional tools and some of the traditional clothing in our schools. We are maintaining some of our physical cultural elements but the losing battle in maintaining our language. The only way it’s going to survive is for our families to start speaking Cup’ik in our homes. The school can only provide supplementary support for language retention but it alone cannot take on the task to retain our language. Some villages are not too late to save their languages, though others have lost it completely. Our hope lies in those villages with strong Native languages that are being practiced by the young. It is up to us to take over some of these programs and practice being providers for our own people. We are slowly taking responsibility for our mistakes and reshaping the future for our younger generation.

I feel we have a lot to offer to the Western world–all we need is recognition that we are existing and struggling to survive as Cup’ik people in this modern era. I thank you for your support and may the force be with you!

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UAF Distance Education Course Offerings

UAF continues to offer an array of education (ED) and cross-cultural studies (CCS) courses each semester through its Cross-Regional Program. Students can obtain detailed information regarding enrollment in the following courses by going to For further information, contact the Center for Distance Education at or 474-5353.


Course Title



CCS 602 Cultural & Intellectual Property Rights Marie Olson  
CCS 603 Field Study Research Methods M. Hogan  
CCS 612 Traditional Ecological Knowledge O Kawagley  
CCS 690 Seminar in Cross-Cultural Studies M. Reyes Th 5:15—8:15
CCS 694 Place-Based Education John Carlson T 5:15—8:15
ED 110 Becoming a Teacher in the 21st Century Samson M 3:30—4:30
ED 110 Becoming a Teacher in the 21st Century Pennington W 3:30—4:30
ED 201 Intro to Education Ladegard T 3:30—5:00
ED 330 Assessment of Learning Freed W 3:30—5:00
ED 410 Foundations of Literacy Development Haugen Th 3:30—5:00
ED 420 Alaska Native Education (ANS 420) Kawagley T Th 3:30—4:45
ED 429 Computer Application in the Classroom Bradley M 3:30—5:00
ED 452 Elementary School Student Teaching Caldwell arranged
ED 477 Knowledge and Skills for Alaska Rural Educators Staff  
ED 601 Introduction to Applied Social Science Research M Reyes M 5:15—8:15
ED 603 Field Study Research Methods Hogan W 5:15—8:15
ED 610 Education and Cultural Processes R Barnhardt arranged
ED 616 Education and Socio—Economic Change R Barnhardt Alternating Th 5:10—6:40
ED 621 Cultural Aspects of Language Acquisition Staff T 5:30—8:30
ED 631 Small Schools Curriculum Design R Barnhardt Alternating Th 5:10—6:40
ED 640 Gender and Education Hogan M 5:00—8:00
ED 660 Educational Administration in Cultural Perspective R Barnhardt arranged
ED 669 Reading Language and Culture    
ED 670 Developing Literacy Haugen arranged
ED 671 Reading and Cognition Parker—Webster arranged
ED 684 Instruction & Assessment II Haugen Sat 8:30—3:00, 1/25, 2/22, 3/29, 4/19
ED 689 Proseminar in Applied Educational Research staff arranged
ED 690 Seminar in Cross Cultural Studies M Reyes Th 5:15—8:15
ED 694 Place Based Education Carlson T 5:15—8:15
ED 698 Master’s Research Project Staff arranged
EDSE 482 Inclusive Classrooms for All Children Staff Th 5:10—6:40

EDSE 422

Curriculum and Strategies II: High Incidence Staff T Th 5:10—6:25

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WINHEC Initiates an Indigenous Accreditation System

by Ray Barnhardt

In November, 2002 a working party on accreditation established by the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium (WINHEC) conducted a series of meetings in Albuquerque, New Mexico and Otaki, New Zealand to begin the process of developing an International Indigenous Higher Education Accreditation Authority (IIHEAA). The two meetings, consisting of representatives of indigenous peoples from around the world, produced a draft set of guiding principles which were approved by the WINHEC executive board to serve as a basis for constructing an indigenous education accreditation system.

The model criteria for an accreditation review around which much of the discussion revolved consisted of a higher education adaptation of the Alaska Standards for Culturally Responsive Schools, variations of which are to be developed by other indigenous peoples wishing to participate in the IIHEAA process. Following is a summary of the draft principles, around which a more detailed accreditation system will be developed.

Guiding Principles for WINHEC Accreditation Authority

Following are some of the guiding principles to be considered in the formation of an indigenous higher education accrediting system for implementation under the auspices of the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium.

The WINHEC Accreditation Authority will serve as a vehicle for strengthening and validating indigenous higher education institutions and programs based on standards and procedures developed and implemented by WINHEC member institutions.

The criteria for accreditation review will be founded upon the local indigenous language and cultural beliefs and practices that provide the epistemological and pedagogical basis for the institutions and programs under review.

The primary focus of the WINHEC Accreditation Authority will be the internal congruence and cultural integrity of the institutions/programs under review, with secondary consideration given to linkages with external/mainstream institutions and accreditation systems.

The WINHEC Accreditation Authority will provide a means for
institution-level accreditation of indigenous-controlled higher education institutions, as well as program-level accreditation of indigenous-oriented programs within indigenous and mainstream institutions (including teacher education programs).

The accreditation review process will include the role of locally respected Elders and recognized cultural practitioners and the use of the heritage language(s) as reflected in the institution/program under review.

The WINHEC Accreditation Authority will promote indigenous research that is respectful of cultural and intellectual property rights and closely integrated with the communities being served.

The WINHEC Accreditation Authority self-study process will be guided by local cultural standards that are developed by the respective indigenous community and thus will provide international recognition and validation for educational initiatives grounded in indigenous world views, knowledge systems and ways of knowing.

The WINHEC Accreditation Authority will provide accredited institutions and programs with access to the following WINHEC services:

  1. Each accredited institutional member shall have one vote on the WINHEC Accreditation Authority Board and shall be invited to participate in program reviews of other candidates for accreditation.

  2. Each accredited member shall be included in the planning and implementation of cooperative activities (e.g., conferences, faculty/student exchanges, shared programs/curricula, cooperative research initiatives) of WINHEC programs and institutions.

  3. Each accredited member shall have opportunities to enroll students in and contribute to the offerings associated with articulated international baccalaureate and graduate degree programs focusing on indigenous studies, including the acceptance of approved transfer credits among all member programs and institutions.

  4. Accredited members shall have opportunities for faculty and students to form partnerships on joint research activities and to participate in faculty/student exchanges among member programs and institutions.

  5. Accredited members shall have access to a database of recognized indigenous scholars for external review of research papers, theses, grant proposals, manuscripts, etc.

  6. Accredited members shall be invited to participate in and contribute to international seminars, conferences, policy papers and comparable initiatives that pertain to the interests of the member programs and institutions.

Process for Implementation

Candidates for accreditation shall submit an application to the WINHEC Accreditation Authority and prepare a self-study addressing the criteria for review outlined in the Guidelines for Accreditation of Indigenous Higher Education Programs and Institutions.

The WINHEC Accreditation Authority shall appoint an accreditation review team made up of representatives from at least four member institutions/programs, two of which are from the same national context as the applicant institution/program. The review team shall include a minimum of one Elder who has been associated with a member program or institution.

The review team shall prepare a report based on a review of the self-study and an on-site visit to the candidate program/institution. This report (including the self-study) shall be submitted to the WINHEC Accreditation Authority for final consideration of membership approval.

Anyone wishing additional information or wishing to offer suggestions regarding WINHEC and the Accreditation Authority outlined above can contact Ray Barnhardt at

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Future Alaska Native Educators

by Cathy Rexford, North Slope Borough School District

According to the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, as of the 2001—2002 school year, 459 of the 8,206 public school teachers are Alaska Native or American Indian.

As indigenous societies that once maintained total control over the education of our youth, we find that our lack of professional presence in our contemporary education system creates a situation of loss. If we as Native people are to truly regain control of our education, it is necessary to infuse young Native professionals into our schools. Encouragement must be given to our young people to become certified teachers, administrators and linguists. Our need for teachers is great and should therefore be a priority in our Native education agenda. We need to invest not only our finances, but also our time and effort into getting our own people teaching in our schools.

The Future Alaska Native Educator (FANE) listserv currently includes 37 students and is growing each week. What started out as a mission to increase youth involvement in the many Alaska Native education gatherings, transformed into the organization of young Alaska Native educators. The intent of this statewide FANE electronic network, is to provide a forum to exchange information, advertise education events and issues and link these students to educators and education entities across Alaska. I compiled this list of Alaska Native college students majoring in education, after sending out several e-mail requests across the state.

I present the Sharing Our Pathways audience with an opportunity to provide these young people your professional and traditional mentorship. This is an excellent opportunity for young Alaska Natives who are on their way to becoming educators and it is also a good opportunity for us to include the ingenuity and the ideas from these young educators in our planning and strategizing. Their fresh perspective may just be the solution we are looking for to move our education agenda forward. These are the students who are preparing to assume responsibility to continue our work as Native educators.

Now that a growing number of young Alaska Native educators are assembled, what does the Alaska Native Educator community have to say to them? As Alaska’s leading experts on education, please send your contributions for the FANE listserv to:

If you are an aspiring Native educator and interested in being added to the list please e-mail Cathy at the above address as well.

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2003 Native Educators’ Conference

February 2—4, 2003

held in conjunction with the annual

Alaska Bilingual/Multicultural Education/Equity Conference

February 5—7, 2003
Anchorage, Alaska

The purpose of the Native Educators’ Conference is to provide an opportunity for people engaged in education impacting Native people to come together and learn from each other’s work and to explore ways to strengthen the links between education and the cultural well-being of indigenous people. Building on past themes, the theme for the 2003 NEC is "Keeping Our Roots Strong."

For further information, contact:

Virginia Ned
PO Box 756730
Fairbanks, AK 99775-6730
907-474-1957 or 474-1902
Fax: 907-474-1957

For information regarding the 29th Bilingual/Multicultural Education/Equity Conference, contact:

Melora Gaber, Program Manager
Title I/Migrant/Title III
Alaska Department of Education and Early Development
801 W. 10th Street, Suite 200
Juneau, AK 99801-1894
Fax: 907-465-3396

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Joy Means Being Touched by the Elements of the Earth!

by Angayuqaq Oscar Kawagley

How many of you have been out in nature fishing, picking berries, snow-shoeing, hiking, cross country skiing or just relaxing? What do you feel when you are out on the river, on the tundra or in the mountains?

Think of the time that you were away from the village or the city experiencing the interplay of light, air, snow and soil–just yourself wrapped up in your own thoughts. When first out there, what did you think about? Did your thoughts begin to absorb your immediate environment? What did you begin to notice? Tree, flower, ant, raven, mouse, moss, ptarmigan, ice, stream, hill? Do these things of Mother Earth have a right to be, to have life? Does the tree have a community of life? Yes, it stores water, the roots have bacteria, it nourishes insects, soil, undergrowth, humus–a living community! Does the mouse have a community? It has a house, food storage, spouse, children, connecting tunnels, time for play, protection, shelter–carrying out life as all living creatures do. You see all soil, rivers, mountains, lakes, trees, wolves, bears, amoeba, e. coli, lichen, red squirrels, camp robbers, caigluq, cranberries, salmonberries–they all live with us in a large community.

You and I, who go out to be in and with nature, should know how to bond with all forms of life. They have a right to be, to live! All things are like us in many ways–they process energy, grow, reproduce, face dangers and do their best when the conditions of their homes and place are most suited to their needs. To be out in nature is to feel that you are cleansing yourself and getting a joy that can arise from being in touch with natural things, the creations of Ellam Yua.

This feeling of family is the most powerful of human bonds! We have to realize that they share our home in the cosmos, eat at our table, share our air and water and play with our children. We are composed of their bodies and they of us. Each of us are here on earth for a very short time. We let others see us for a while then, as other things, we must recycle. We are all related!

When we really experience the joy of life we become more polite and kind to all in the vast community. Being with and in nature, we begin to build love and respect for all life. Love is probably the strongest force in our world! Why love? Because love of the world around us causes us to limit the demands we put on Mother Earth, how much we buy and sell, moderating our needs and wants. It is this love that will allow us to give up some things and begin to limit what we have.

When we build up this respect, love, kindness and politeness in being with nature, we will not have to rely on alcohol and other things that bend the mind, because we become balanced physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. From such a balance will come joy in life.

Have a safe and happy holiday and new year!

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Alaska U-Doc LogoAlaska U-DOC 2003
High School Summer Enrichment Program

WWAMI Biomedical Program, University of Alaska Anchorage
June 16—July 25, 2003

Would YOU like to become a DOCTOR?

What is U-DOC?

The Alaska U-DOC Program is a six-week intensive summer enrichment program for minority, rural and disadvantaged students who are interested in careers as medical doctors. U-DOC’s goal is to foster, affirm and encourage high school students’ interest in the medical profession by allowing them to further explore medical careers and to get a valuable introduction to college life. The University of Alaska Anchorage Biomedical Program (WWAMI) welcomes all eligible students to apply!


In order to qualify you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizens or permanent resident and a resident of Alaska Currently be attending your junior or senior year in high school (at the time of application)

  • Belong to an under-represented minority group, live in a rural area, be a first-generation American or be economically disadvantaged


  • Getting a taste of college life

  • Taking a pre-med curriculum overview

  • Exploring medicine as a career

  • Learning about biological, cultural and social forces that impact health and health care

  • Gaining exposure to clinical medicine through a physician mentor


  • Basic sciences (anatomy, biology, chemistry, math), including laboratory experiences

  • Computer skills, research skills

  • Verbal and written communications skills

  • Problem solving and test taking skills

  • College survival skills

  • How to be a competitive candidate for medical school, including MCAT practice and participation in mock interviews


  • Travel assistance may be available for qualifying students.

  • Housing will be available to qualifying students in the UAA dormitory facility.


  • Due to the program’s demanding schedule, we require that students not hold jobs or participate in other programs from June 16—July 25.

  • Each U-DOC student will receive a monetary stipend upon successful completion of the program.


The following items must be faxed or postmarked by Saturday, April 12, 2003:

  • The completed U-DOC program application

  • A sealed current official high school transcript (ask your counselor how to obtain yours)

  • PSAT / SAT / ACT scores if available

  • Two sealed letters of recommendation from teachers, at least one of which is from a science or math teacher

Acceptance will be based on high school academic performance, letters of recommendation, written responses to essay questions on the application form and a formal telephone interview.


For U-DOC application and reference forms, click on U-DOC at:
Applications may also be obtained by writing or calling the Biomedical Program at:

U-DOC SUMMER PROGRAM / WWAMI Biomedical Program / University of Alaska Anchorage
3211 Providence Drive / Anchorage, AK 99508 / phone (907) 786-4789 / fax (907) 786-4700


Contact U-DOC Program Director, Allison Butler, 907-786-4793,

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Components of Culturally-Responsive Schools

by Frank Hill

Those of us associated with the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative for the past seven years have been promoting the concept of culturally-responsive schools as a means to create systemic reform in Alaska’s rural schools–especially those whose student populations are predominantly Alaska Native. Improved student academic achievement is the ultimate goal. We understand and believe that if we base teaching and schools on the local environment and culture, giving respect and credit to students and heritage, we can begin teaching at a higher level. We also understand and believe that students who have healthy self concepts are better learners.

What exactly does a "culturally-responsive school" look like? What would be happening in a culturally-responsive school that will be different?

Alaska Native Knowledge Network publications Alaska Standards for Culturally-Responsive Schools and Guidelines for Developing Culturally-Responsive Teachers for Alaska’s Schools provide guidance for describing what we should find in culturally-responsive schools. Rather than go into all of the sections covered in the referenced publications I will share my version of what constitutes a culturally-responsive school by listing what I believe should be evident if I were visiting that school and the school community:

  • Teachers and administrators would be those who were born and raised in the community or region.

  • Local community has direct and significant input in the process and recommendations for hiring all school staff.

  • School is named for a local cultural hero or leader and whose picture and contributions to the community and region are detailed in the pictorial presentation.

  • Local cultural statement of values and beliefs are prominently displayed throughout the school.

  • Behavioral standards for students are based on the values of the local culture and are developed with full participation of local parents, Elders and leaders.

  • Classrooms display local cultural events and people and

  • Local Native Elders are prominent in every classroom and are regulars in the school throughout the day and school year (celebrate Elders‚ birthdays in school.)

  • Elders are accorded "dignitary" seats during important school
    functions (games, meetings,
    graduations, etc.)

  • Local school’s annual goals for students are prominently displayed.

  • Teachers teach within the culture, not about the culture. Teachers utilize local environment, language and culture in developing and delivering lessons for students.

  • The instructional program and curriculum includes:

    • instruction in the local Native language

    • local cultural history and a correct and complete Alaska history course that details how Alaska Natives have been recognized and treated as well as how they are now organized for cultural, political and economic reasons.

  • Flexible/alternative instructional methods including regular classroom trips outside the school and incorporates the local environment.

  • Process for reporting student academic progress includes options besides report cards (school academic fairs, highlighting student achievement during student basketball games, etc.)

  • School calendar/daily schedule take into account the local community’s cultural activities.

  • ALL school staff are included in staff meetings and inservices.

  • Administrators, teachers and other school staff learn and use local cultural language greetings and words for praise when working with students.

  • The school’s facilities are readily available to the local community when not in use for instruction or student activities (someone in the community has keys to the school.)

  • Local school board meetings include regular reports by all of the classroom teachers, instructional support staff and maintenance personnel.

  • Administrators/teachers attend all local village meetings including tribal councils, cultural celebrations, local holiday events, etc.

  • Students learn and present plays and performances of local legends spoken in Native language, develop and wear traditional clothing with assistance from local cultural experts.

  • Students translate reports and other activities into local language and present to Elders/community.

  • Local community develops standards for students that would prepare them for participation in local cultural community, takes responsibility for and delivers instruction both within and outside school day. Students meeting these standards are recognized by village leaders during end-of-year graduation ceremonies.

These observations are really only a beginning of what could be developed for any local school and could be the beginning of a plan for a local school to become culturally responsive. We know, too, that some rural schools have developed their own list of culturally-responsive practices. It would be helpful for all of us if those components were shared with those schools wanting to become more culturally responsive.

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AVCP Adopts Resolution

The following resolution was adopted at the Thirty- Eighth Annual Convention of the Association of Village Council Presidents (AVCP). The convention was held in Bethel, Alaska, October 8—10, 2002.

Thirty-Eighth Annual Convention
Bethel, Alaska October 8—10, 2002



WHEREAS The Association of Village Council Presidents, Inc. (AVCP) is the recognized tribal organization and nonprofit Alaska Native regional corporation for its fifty-six member indigenous Native villages within Western Alaska and supports its member villages; and

WHEREAS AVCP fully supports its member villages’ endeavors in all aspects of their self-determination, health and well-being; and

WHEREAS AVCP/Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative (AKRSI) and AVCP Tribal College propose to actively seek funding for the regional Yup’ik/Cup’ik history project within Western Alaska; and

WHEREAS the intent of the Yup’ik/Cup’ik history project is to make it part of the required school curriculum in Western Alaska schools; and

WHEREAS the regional Native students and their descendents need to know their origins in Western Alaska; and

NOWTHERE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the full board of the Association of Village Council Presidents supports and directs AVCP Administration to actively seek funding for the Western Alaska Yup’ik/Cup’ik history project and report to the AVCP administration and AVCP board periodically.

ADOPTED this 10th day of October 2002, at the 38th Annual Convention held in Bethel, Alaska, at which a duly constituted quorum of delegates was present.


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Iñupiaq RavenIñupiaq Region: Integrating Culturally-Responsive School Standards in Education

by Yaayuq Bernadette Alvanna-Stimpfle, Iñupiaq Lead Teacher

Last fall, the Bering Strait School District held their Third Annual Educational Conference from October 21—24. There were many workshops and meetings offered for all the participants from the fifteen sites within the region. It was exciting to see so many teachers coming together from the Bering Strait region.

On Tuesday, October 22 during the breakout sessions I facilitated two sessions on "Integrating Culturally-Responsive Standards." At both sessions I guided the participants in brainstorming on subsistence activities throughout each season.

In the first group, there were enough participants to break up into smaller groups to help each other in preparing lessons. In each of the groups, it was suggested that we create a circular calendar listing the seasonal activities. Teachers can brainstorm with students and have them create a subsistence calendar. The illustration opposite shows activities both groups came up with.

Suggested Activities for Implementation of Subsistence-based Curriculum

  • Have students brainstorm what activities are happening in the community.

  • Create a circular seasonal calendar to record and display traditional activities with these labels:

Early spring Summer
Early fall Late fall


  • If possible, include the Native names of each season.

  • Have students illustrate the

  • Have students research and interview Elders or local experts.

  • Compare and contrast traditional and modern subsistence activities.

  • Create a website on the activities.

  • Participate and get involved in the community activities.

  • Invite guests for storytelling.

  • Create and display student work.

  • Hold a science fair on the research done by the students.

Assessment and Rubrics

  • Teachers can create an assessment and a scoring guide for the projects.

Performance Assessment

  • Hold a community night to display student work.

Related winter activities include trapping, hunting, dog sledding, Native dancing and potluck celebrations, storytelling, sewing parkas, mukluks, mittens, slippers, ruffs and carving with ivory, wood or baleen. Sports-related activities include basketball, volleyball and wrestling. Native games include the World Eskimo Indian Olympics games such as the High Kick and Finger Pull.
Subsistence-based Calendar Related spring activities include bear hunting, hunting out in the sea ice, drying meat, making seal oil and preparing for summer fish camp. Many hours are spent preparing and putting away dried foods.
Related fall activities include ivory carving, hunting, skin sewing, knitting, weaving grass baskets, ice fishing and preparing for the winter holidays. Some communities can practice Native dancing and children can do different sports related to the curriculum (Native games).
Related summer activities include fishing, going to fish camps to prepare dried salmon, picking various greens, picnics, put away dried fish and meat, store edible greens and seal oil, freeze berries for the winter. Communities have their own techniques to prepare salmon and greens–have students research that in their communities.

I know there are many activities I have left out from this list. Teachers can add them with their students. Both sessions I worked with were very good about sharing their activities and lessons.

Quyaana to all the participants who were part of the workshop during the BSSD Education Conference!

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Athabascan RavenAthabascan Region: Old Minto Cultural Orientation Program

by Louellyn White (Mohawk), University of Arizona

This past summer I had the privilege of traveling to Alaska. The magnificent snow-capped peaks and abundance of lakes, rivers and shoreline were in sharp contrast to the Sonoran desert where I currently live. It was a welcome change and I had a truly amazing experience in the land where the sun never set. I was fortunate enough to be a student in the Cross-Cultural Studies summer course, "Cross-Cultural Orientation Program for Teachers" at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The three-week course was geared toward teachers working in Alaska’s rural villages.

I am not a schoolteacher in Alaska, but am a doctoral student in the American Indian Studies Program at the University of
Arizona and have an interest in
Native education. I wanted to know how programs like the Old Minto Cultural Camp help prepare teachers for working with Native students and was interested in how traditional knowledge is integrated into the curriculum of Alaska Native schools.

Dorothy Titus and Louellyn White
Dorothy Titus and Louellyn White making birch bark baskets. Linda Charlie sits in the background.

We spent the first and last weeks of the program in a classroom at UAF. Reading and discussing work by various scholars in the field of Alaska Native education helped prepare us for our week out at Old Minto. The work by Elders like Howard Luke and Peter John helped me understand how important subsistence, culture and language is to the lives of Alaska Native people.

However, there are some things that just cannot be taught in the classroom such as how to dig up spruce roots for basket making, how to pluck a duck and how to hunt for moose. How about hauling water from the Tanana River and bathing in a Yup’ik steam house? The Old Minto Cultural Camp gave us the opportunity to do these things side-by-side with the people of Minto and to experience living close to the land in the traditional Athabascan way.

We traveled to Old Minto by boat along the Tanana River from the town of Nenana. Old Minto is no longer permanently inhabited but serves as a cultural center for groups like ours, Elders’ gatherings and youth camps. Our small class was joined by a large group of teachers and administrators from the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming and several other educators, youth and camp helpers. Days were filled with chopping wood, pounding nails, playing with children and learning about the Athabascan way of life. In a group effort, we even managed to build a fire circle shelter and saw it almost to completion.

One of the most important lessons I took from this experience was how important it is to listen to the Elders. I welcomed the opportunity to sit, be still and to just listen. They have an incredible wealth of knowledge about their history, culture and language. I spent hours listening to stories about the old times at Old Minto, learning about local plants and making birch bark baskets. The Elders shared their concerns about modern society’s influence on youth and their loss of language. Some of the Elders are trying to combat the loss of language and culture by providing traditional teachings in local classrooms.

I envied the physical and spiritual strength of the Elders. Even though some of them had to rely on walking sticks and had lost some of their hearing and eyesight, they managed to not only get out to the remote camp by boat, but slept on spruce boughs and stayed up late telling us stories and singing traditional songs. For them, they were returning to their home, to a place where they had raised their children and buried their loved ones.

Roundhouse completion
Roundhouse completion—sheltered fire circle—built by camp participants

Towards the end of the week we were all busy preparing for the potlatch. For days we cooked duck soup over open fires, roasted beaver and cooked salmon. Finally on the day of the potlatch, people came throughout the day by boat from surrounding villages and the camp was bustling with activity. Families reunited, old friends returned, traditional songs filled the air and children danced along with the Elders. At the end of the traditional meal (which we served) speeches were made, thanks were given and people talked about their concerns regarding the education of their youth and of the need to have more Native teachers in the classrooms. Although there are many dedicated non-Native teachers, high teacher turnover rates along with inadequate understanding of Native cultures remains a problem in many parts of the country. This appears to be particularly problematic in Alaska’s rural schools. Programs like those at Old Minto attempt to address these concerns.

The Old Minto Cultural Camp provided a unique example of how traditional knowledge and Elders play an important role in education. By teaching through their culture rather than about their culture, the people of Minto were able to provide participants with firsthand experiences in the Athabascan way of life. This experience required each of us to be open to new ways of doing things, to be respectful of others and to embrace the rare opportunity of living at an Athabascan fish camp.

I made many new friends at Old Minto and was sad to leave. This experience will stay with me for a very long time and I would like to thank all of the people at Old Minto for their hospitality and for their teachings. I would especially like to thank Ray Barnhardt and Robert Charlie, executive director of the Cultural Heritage and Education Institute, who made the camp possible. Thank you also to Dorothy Titus who reminded me to listen to the wisdom of the Elders. Since this experience I have often wondered what the world will be like when I reach the age of these Elders. Will anyone still live this close to the land? And perhaps most important, will people remember the teachings of the Elders? I certainly hope so.

The 2003 Cultural Orientation Program is scheduled for June 2—20 in Fairbanks and Old Minto. Enrollment information is available through the UAF Summer Sessions at

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Southeast RavenThe Southeast Region Native Education Forum

by Andy Hope

On November 11, 2002, approximately 50 people graciously sacrificed their holiday to participate in a Southeast Region Native Education Forum. The forum took place at Haa Kaak Has Kahídí (Our Uncle’s House) in Juneau and was cosponsored by the Southeast Alaska Tribal College (SEATC) and the Southeast Alaska Native Educators Association (SEANEA).

The SEATC Elders Council was represented by Joe Hotch of Klukwan, Lydia George of Angoon, Arnold Booth of Metlakatla, Charles Natkong, Sr. of Hydaburg, along with Marie Olson, Nora Dauenhauer and Jim Walton of Juneau. The Elders panel also participated in a cultural orientation training seminar for new teachers at Adlersheim Lodge in Juneau on November 9. Plenary sessions took place at the beginning and end of the day.

Forum participants divided into four strands or working groups: K—12 Education facilitated by Paula Dybdahl of Juneau-Douglas High School and Angie Lunda of SEANEA; Higher Education facilitated by Rhonda Hickok of the University of Alaska Southeast/Preparing Indigenous Teachers for Alaska Schools; Adult Education facilitated by Andy Hope of SEATC/AKRSI; and Strategies for Engaging Native Families in Community Education facilitated by Dr. Bernice Tetpon.

The purpose of the forum was to encourage communication, to develop action plans and to ensure that Native educators were united and coordinated prior to the Second Native Education Summit scheduled for December 9—10, 2002 in Anchorage. The main product of the forum was a Southeast Alaska Native Education Resource Directory. This directory will contain short summaries of community-based education programs with contact information. This directory will be published in mid-December, 2002 and will be posted on the SEATC web page, which can be found at

The Strategies for Engaging Native Families in Community Education group had extensive discussions on possible action plans and decided to focus on the following:

Goal #1

School board training on attracting, hiring (interviewing) and retaining Native staff.


Increase support for returning Native scholars in villages. Support acceptance, hire and retention.

Goal #2

Education work on generational grief/historic trauma using wellness programs in Southeast.


  1. Training on generational grief/historic trauma/ affects of oppression.

  2. Training on how to reclaim power for Native communities (de-colonization).

Goal #3

Implementation of cultural standards IMMEDIATELY!


  1. Provide educational staff with guiding principles of what Native parent involvement means, looks like and how to invite it.

  2. Have the state school board insist on a plan from each district on how they intend to implement these standards.

  3. Need a clearinghouse for curriculum, research, methods and materials for Native education by region.

  4. Support for place-based education and assessment from the state school board.

The adult education group decided to focus on one achievable task, i.e. that the Southeast Alaska Adult Education Consortium should develop a database for tracking high school dropouts.

The other groups will concentrate on developing their resource directories. Follow-up meetings will take place in the next few months in partnership with other educational institutions. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the people that took the time to participate in this forum. Thank you for working to improve educational opportunities in our communities.

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Aleut RavenUnangan Region: The Right Way to Live as an Unanga{

NOTE: In oder to view these pages correctly, you will need to have the Unangam Tunuu font in your system. To obtain the free, downloadable font, go to

When the Association of Unangan/Unangas Educators asked for the support of numerous volunteers in the communities of St. Paul, St. George, Atka, Nikolski, Unalaska, Akutan, King Cove, Sand Point, False Pass, Nelson Lagoon (not a traditional village but some Unangan live there) and Anchorage, we knew that some of these values would be mentioned but not how many would emerge nor what forms they would take.

The following are but two ways we have chosen to highlight the information shared by those discussing values from deep within the Unanga{ culture. The "Simple Instructions" allude to a relatively esoteric historical document, but bring longer scattered text to 27 succinct and teachable rules. The prayer by the beloved Father Michael Lestenkof (below) has served as an inspiration for many and a springboard for the very conversations that solicited the erudite wording of our enduring cultural values that have sustained us. We are grateful for the help of our partners around the state, nation and world who support one another to all become more mindful in teaching time-tested rules for living to our young people.

Barbara Carlson
Association of Unangan/Unangas Educators

Values of the Unangan/Unangas

Qawalangin / Nii}u}is Nii}u}is   Eastern dialect / Western dialect

Kudalii}in maqa{takan txichin aguqangin / Kadaangis maqa{tal txichix aguqangis
The way of our beginning, our ancestors

Udaadan tanangin kugan Unangan anangin / Udaadan Unangam tanangin kugan anangis
Our people’s land and sea around here

I{taqangin lulalix matalix an}a}iingin matakun / Hi{tanangis luulal ama matal an}a}iingin matakus
Believe in them and keep them going through time

Aniqdun ngiin aqaa}an a}nangin qulingiin aku{ gumalgaku{. / Kinguu}ingin wan slum kugan haqaa}an a}nangin qulaan aku{ gumalgaku{.
For the coming generations that we don’t see yet, for their time here.

–Father Michael Lestenkoff



The Right Way to Live as an Unanga{
Simple Instructions with the Long List

  1. Udigdada. E / Udigida. W / Share.

  2. Tutada. E & W / Listen.

  3. Txin anguyni{ta}ulux. E / Txin manitalagada. W / Don’t be boastful.

  4. Agitaasitxin i{amnaasada. E / An}a}inas i}amanaasada. W / Be kind to other people.

  5. Agitaasiin sismida. E / An}a}inas kiduda. W / Help others.

  6. Tuman tana{ agliisaa{tan. E / Tana{ agliisada. W / Take care of the land.

  7. Tuman ala}u{ agliisaa{tan. E / Ala}u{ agliisada. W / Take care of the sea/ocean.

  8. Tuman taanga{ agliisaa{txin. E / Taanga{ haqayaasada. W / Take care of the water.

  9. Manachin ilam axtalakan agliisaachin. E / Ana}is mal agumis ilam axtalagada. W / Do not do anything to excess.

  10. Txin ugutada. E / Qa}atada. W / Be happy.

  11. I}ayuu{txin, ana}im atxa}ingin agachan madada. E / Txin sakaa}atal ana}is mada. W / Behave yourself: Do the things you know are right.

  12. Chxadalagaa{txin. E / Chxalagada. W / Don’t steal.

  13. Adluuda}i}ulux E / Adalulagada. W / Don’t lie.

  14. Ludakiim axtax samtaaxtxin. E / Ludaa}is, tukus ama uchiitilas sahnga{tada. W / Respect Elders (including parents, teachers and community members).

  15. Agitaasiin samtasaa{txin. E / Agitaadaan sahnga{tada. W / Respect your peers.

  16. Kayutuu{txin. E / Kayutuda. W / Be strong.

  17. Agitaasiin matanangin imin gidu}iisalagaa{txin. E / Silaa txin gikuun alagada. W / Don’t be envious of what belongs to another.

  18. An}a}i{ i{amana{ i{talix kayux i{amana{ atxa{talix manaa imin ugutaasalix aa{txin. E / An}a}ina{ i}amanas manaa ngaan hi{tada. W / Admire one who does well by honest means.

  19. Maamin i{tanatxin madada. E / Ana}is maamis hi{taqaan aguun mada. W / Don’t make promises quickly, but keep those you make.

  20. An}a}iisanatxin an}a}im agitaasingin agachan liidalix an}a}iisada. E / Matal an}a}iikaan agacha an}a}isada. W / Live like you want people to see you live.

  21. Igilnaa{na{txin. E / Qaqatulagada. W / Don’t be greedy.

  22. Sla{, a}ada{, tugida{, kayux sdan tunum manginulux kugan i}ad}ulux. E / Sla{, a}adgi{, ama sdas hadangiin i}amana{ agacha tunu{taasada. W / Don’t talk bad about the weather or the sun, the moon or the stars.

  23. Agitaasaan adaan tunum i{amnanginulux i}ad}ulux. E / An}a}ina{ adalus hadaan hilgada}ulax. W / Don’t slander another person.

  24. Kadaan axtaa}ana{txin. E / Kadamis agalagada. W / Don’t get ahead of yourself.

  25. Adu{tanaan akidada. E / Adut akida. W / Pay your debts.

  26. Qaqamii}u{. E / Qaqamii}u{. W /Subsistence.

  27. Tunuun ugunu{talakan an}a}ii{txin. E / Unangam Tunuu ugunu{talagada. W / Don’t forget your Unangan language.

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Yup'ik RavenYup’ik/Cup’ik Region: Kuspuk Native Educators Get Organized

by Esther Ilutsik

We welcome the Kuspuk Native Educator Association as one of our newest Native educator associations in the State of Alaska. They are in the process of developing bylaws and will be coming up with a distinguished name for the association from an indigenous cultural perspective.

A meeting of the Native educators (serving as the KSD Curriculum Committee on Cultural Standards) was held on November 16, 2002, called by Cheryl Jerabek, federal programs director and Peggy Wolfe, curriculum director of the Kuspuk School District. Also in attendance were Yup’ik Region Lead Teacher Esther Ilutsik and Kim Langton, KSD superintendent. In addition to exploring the idea of creating a local Native educators association, the committee addressed the development of cultural standards and the use of cultural thematic units. Following the formalities of the meeting and with support and encouragement from Superintendent Langton, the Native educators present unanimously voted to create a Native educators association. They elected the following interim board: Evelyn Chamberlain as president, who is a certified Native teacher from Crow Village Sam School in Chuathbaluk with about 40 students and four certified teachers serving the students; Julia Dorris as vice-president who comes from George Morgan Senior High School in Kalskag, where she co-teaches a cultural class with fellow board member Margaret Mute, instructional aide under the direction of Principal Jon Wehde with 86 students in levels 7—12; and Molly Sakar as secretary/treasurer who comes from Johnnie John Senior School in Crooked Creek where she teaches at the secondary level. Others serving on the interim board include Jon Berkeley, primary teacher at Auntie Mary Nicoli Elementary School; Anastasia Levi, primary teacher at Joseph and Olinga Gregory Elementary School in Upper Kalskag; Sally M. Hoffman who works at the Kuspuk district office providing school support; and Mary Groat, primary teacher who teaches at Zacker Levi Elementary in Lower Kalskag.

The Kuspuk School District covers over 12,000 square miles with a population of about 1,775 people. It includes the following villages: Upper Kalskag, Lower Kalskag, Crooked Creek, Chuathbaluk, Aniak, Red Devil, Stony River and Sleetmute. All these villages are accessible only by air and river travel. The district office is located in Aniak–the town the directly links the surrounding communities to the outside world.

We extend a welcome the Native educators of the Kuspuk School District and look forward to working with them.

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AKRSI Welcomes Katie Bourdon

Katie Bourdon

Hello, my name is Katie Bourdon and I’m the new Eskimo Heritage Program (EHP) Director for Kawerak, Inc. in Nome, Alaska. I am very happy to be in a position that works, preserves, develops and promotes our Native culture. I’m following a strong leader, Branson Tungiyan, who worked in EHP for over four years. I’m thankful to have open communication with Branson and am glad for his support.

The EHP program is fortunate to work so closely with our Elders as they are the guiding force behind EHP. Kawerak’s Elders Advisory Committee have created long range goals and objectives that include procuring a cultural heritage center, continuing the documentation of Elders and culture and developing culturally-enhanced curriculum. The EHP has a wealth of recordings, slides, photos and videos that will be digitized for lifelong preservation and use. This is another major project that will take place this year.

I’m very delighted to be welcomed by the staff and family of the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative. You are a very vibrant group with a strong
mission and I’m glad Kawerak is a
part of this dynamic, innovative strength of Native educators and leaders. I look forward to meeting all of you and creating a strong working relationship.

Finally, I would like to share some personal information about myself. I have four bright and lively children, three boys and one girl. My husband, Wilson Bourdon, and I have been married for 13 years. My parents are Frank and LaVonne Okleasik and Wilson’s mother is Esther Bourdon, a very active Elder in Nome. His father, David Bourdon, passed away in 1997. We’re happy to have so much family close to us as both Wilson and I have large families and most are living in Nome. Quyanna!

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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
Olga Pestrikoff, Moses Dirks &
Teri Schneider

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

Athabascan Region
pending at Tanana Chiefs Conference

Iñupiaq Region
Katie Bourdon
Eskimo Heritage Program Director
Kawerak, Inc.
PO Box 948
Nome, AK 99762
(907) 443-4386
(907) 443-4452 fax

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

Lead Teachers

Angela Lunda

Teri Schneider/Olga Pestrikoff/Moses Dirks

Esther Ilutsik

Bernadette Yaayuk Alvanna-Stimpfle

Linda Green


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.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0086194. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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

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