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Native Pathways to Education
Alaska Native Cultural Resources
Indigenous Knowledge Systems
Indigenous Education Worldwide

Athabascan RavenAthabascan Winter Studies
The Dene'
Indigenous People of Interior

Kindergarten Unit

FNSBSD Alaska Native Education

Unit: Athabascan (Dene')
Winter Family Activities Social Organization Strand

 Lesson: Where they live and their houses

Day 2:

Students will identify where Athabascan (Dene') families live in the winter and learn about typical winter family activities.


Athabascan ABC Coloring Book

Athabascan Paper Dolls, Contemporary and Traditional

Poster board - use enlarged drawing from "A View Of The Past"

Photos of traditional Dene' family - UAF archives or magazines

Magazine resources for photos - IANA, Alaska Magazine, FNA, 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 Native Alaskans" or Gwich'in Niintsyaa

Books showing the lives of Dene' Elders, YKSD biographies in ANE library

Scissors and coloring supplies


Students will learn that Athabascans, (Dene') live where there are resources that will support their families.

Students will learn that pre-contact Athabascans (Dene') lived in tents and log homes, and moved to where they could find food and companionship.


Checkout "Tetlin As I Knew It", pg. 20-28, Wintertime: Beaver Camp

Prepare Brainstorm silhouette in shape of tent/log cabin

Preview and select video "The Caribou People"

Request Elder speaker from ANE or invite a Native student's relative

Review ANE Dene' resource curricula available in library

 Introduction: (set/purpose)

Create a brainstorm (mind map), with words or pictures students give that they remember from the readings from the previous day that describe old or new Athabascan families or lifestyles. Words/pictures may include: trees, Elders, grandma, parents, tents, log houses, jig, ice fishing, caribou etc...

Ask the students to describe the houses they saw in the book/story they read/heard yesterday. What kinds of houses do they think are used in Athabascan villages today?

Activity: (input)

Show video to students entitled "Profiles of Alaskans" Catherine Attla, instructs pairs or groups of students to notice the following information:
- What village is your guide from?

- What do the houses look like?

- What are the children wearing?

- What are people doing for fun?

- Do the people seem to love living in the village?

- What did you see that you wish you could do in Fairbanks?

- Do they speak more than one language?

- What language do the Athabascans speak?

- Which season was this movie made?

- What animal does the story describe?

- Others that match regular classroom activities or objectives

Re-read "A View Of The Past." Point out how this view is different that what they saw in the video. Focus on the process of adaptation that occurs regardless of time and location.

Discuss the "look" and construction of traditional winter camp homes and modern frame or log homes.

What adaptations do all people have to make when it is so cold in the winter?

- Discuss clothing, shelter and food adaptations

- Discuss seasonal harvests

- Discuss natural insulation

- Discuss other winter activities

Read - Chapter III, "Wintertime: Beaver Camp" to class, or invite an Elder to share with students what they did in the winter camp with their families. If an Elder does come, ask them to tell the kids about trapping, beaver traps, ice fishing, and what kinds of houses they lived in every day and for hunting or emergencies.

Activity: (guided practice)

Continue coloring activity from day 1
- Cut-out paper dolls and their contemporary and traditional clothing outfits

- Dress paper dolls with cut-outs of outfits

 Activity: (closure)

Instruct students to tell a partner a story with their paper dolls, using the setting they drew on day 1

Ask for volunteers to share their story with the class, partners may help

Display drawings of student scenes in classroom

Activity: (independent practice)

Assign specific coloring pages from the Athabascan ABCs Coloring Book to reinforce today's activities and stories.

Play with paper dolls, role playing family roles and responsibilities.

ANE Curriculum Overview
Unit Overview



Athabascan Art Sampler


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 17, 2006