Indigenous People of Interior
FNSBSD Alaska Native Education
Unit: Athabascan (Dene')
Winter Family Activities Social Organization
Lesson: Introduction to Athabascan (Dene')
Students will identify and examine the roles of modern,
urban families and the traditional, pre-contact and contemporary
Dene' family, with an emphasis on the importance of Elders.
Athabascan Language Map from
ANLC @ UAF or ANE
Athabascan ABC Coloring Book
Athabascan Paper Dolls, Contemporary and Traditional
Poster board - use enlarge drawing from "A View Of The
Photos of traditional Dene' family - UAF archives or magazines
Magazine resources for photos - IANA, Alaska Magazine, ENA,
Doyon, TCC annual reports or newsletters
Story of traditional Dene' winter home, "A
View Of The Past"
Poster board or pictures of Dene' Elders as teachers
Video of Dene' Elders as teachers, "Profiles of Alaskans" or
Books showing the lives of Dene' Elders, YKSD biographies in
Scissors and coloring supplies
Students will learn the various roles and
responsibilities of modern, urban family life and Athabascan or
Dene' family members living in interior Alaska today and in the
Prepare bulletin or posterboards and Language
Make copies or co-op learning group sets of "A View Of The
Past" available from your librarian
Request Elder speaker from ANE or invite a Native student's
Review background information and other Athabascan
resource curricula available from your librarian
Review Alaska Games Booklets
Read "Tetlin As I Knew
Read "Alaskan Athabascans"
Read "Alaska Native Folklore"
Ask the students to name the members of their families,
by using their role name and their given names, if they are known.
(Be prepared to address diversity positively for the
non-traditional families in your classroom.)
Students will learn through group discussion the difference
between a modern, urban family and a traditional Athabascan or
Dene' family. By using their own family as a means to compare,
students will examine the roles of each family member.
Athabascan emphasis on the traditional family needs
to include the role of Dene' Elders as teachers.
Discussion of what traditional Athabascan or Dene' means
to your students
Read in class "A View Of The Past", then discuss:
-what are the family roles described in that story, if
a Native elder is available have them describe their childhood
and the activities they and their parents did when they were
-roles of their own family members
-who are the family story tellers, and historians
-what traditions do their own families keep
-descriptions of the past from their grandparents
Focus on the diversity found in your classroom
Point out common attributes, characteristics and activities
between time, place and cultures
Involve students in discussion and understanding by using
bulletin or large poster boards with pictures of modern, urban
family activities and a scenes of village life or traditional
Athabascan or Dene' families
Classroom discussion may include the following points
-What do your/their clothes look like?
-What are your/their clothes made of?
-What do you/they wear to stay warm in the winter cold?
-How does your/their fathers prepare for winter?
-What foods do you/they eat in the winter?
-What games do you/they play in the winter?
Activity: (guided practice)
Handout paper dolls and stencils
Handout 11x14 plain construction paper for background drawings
folded in half to assist scene to stand up so later the dolls can
be moved around in front of the scene as the students have their
doll tell a story
Students will color and dress one set each of paper dolls in
contemporary style clothing and in traditional style clothing
Read or tell an Athabascan/Dene' legend (anthologies available
from the ANE resource library through Library Media Services
catalog - some suggested titles are listed below):
-Bakk'aatugh Ts'uhuniy: Stories We Live By, w/
teachers guide by Catherine Attla - 398.2 ATT
-Dena'ina Suku'a by Joan Tenenbaum - 398.2 DEN
-Sitsiy Yugh Noholnik Ts'in': As My Grandfather Told It,
w/teachers guide by Catherine Attla - 398.2 ATT
Students will integrate information from readings and
stories into their play after completing coloring and cutting out
the paper dolls
Activity: (independent practice)
Students will draw settings to surround their paper
dolls, encourage them to look at the display of photos or set
their dolls into a story that the visiting Elder may have told
them or you have found in the ANE resource library.
Introduce students to the Athabascan ABC Coloring Book,
they may find ideas to put into their background settings. When they
have finished their background picture assign specific letters for
them to continue coloring and the key words for them to practice
their reading and writing skills.
click on images for a bigger graphic
Our Athabascan (Dene')
ABC's Coloring Book
DESIGN A BACKGROUND FOR EACH LETTER OF THE
ALPHABET USING AN ATHABASCAN THEME.
languages of Interior Alaska.
B Beautiful birch
C Caches used to
D Drums drumming
E Elders deserve
love and respect.
F Fishwheels that
G Grandma and
Grandpa, our favorite Elders.
H Hunting herds
I Ice fishing is
fun in winter.
snowshoe hare we hope to trap.
K King salmon,
our favorite fish!
L Lynx looking
M Muskrats munch
N Northern Lights
O Owls making
shadows in the night.
P Parkas keep us
warm in winter.
Q Quills for
R Raven, the
S Snowshoes carry
us on top of deep snow.
T Tracks animals
leave behind for us to follow.
U Under the
winter stars mushing is fun.
V Velvet protects
the caribou's antlers as they grow.
W Water hauled
from the river for drinking.
X Not found in
the Gwich'in or Ft. Yukon dialect.
Y Yukon River,
the interior highway.
temperatures are a sign spring is coming.
OCR SCANNED MATERIAL