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Native Pathways to Education
Alaska Native Cultural Resources
Indigenous Knowledge Systems
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Athabascan RavenAthabascan Winter Studies
The Dene'
Indigenous People of Interior

Kindergarten Unit

FNSBSD Alaska Native Education

Unit: Athabascan (Dene')
Winter Studies Daily and Contemporary Life Strand

Lesson: Winter camp and urban activities

Day 3:

Students will learn about traditional Dene' winter camp activities and what contemporary activities have replaced the traditional activities.


Review previous winter camp stories, "A View Of The Past" and "Tetlin As I Knew It"

Checkout legends booklet "When People Meet Animals," Book 5, "The Female Beaver" pg. 4-9 and "A Bear Hunt" pg. 17-20 available from ANE Curriculum Resource Materials from your librarian

Video - Profiles Of Alaskans - Emmit Peters - Musher @ Library Media Services catalog

Schedule optional speaker on Dene' winter camp activities

Athabascan ABC Coloring Book (2-3 pages per day)

Athabascan Language Map or other Alaska Maps


Students will learn the various traditional winter camp activities of the Athabascan (Dene') family and compare to urban family winter activities.


Preview and cue video to Emmit Peters section of "Profiles of Alaskans," (video has Athabascan Fiddling Music on soundtrack)

Athabascan ABC Coloring Book

Re-review background materials

Make copies of classroom or co-op learning group sets of legends

Introduction: (set/purpose)

For review, discuss and add to content on brainstorm mind-map with class what was covered during the previous two days. Add words or pictures that the students think that Athabascans do in the winter today both in the village and in town. They may need a person to re-tell the outline of the stories they heard day 1 & 2.

Words or pictures will include snowmachine riding, trapping, gathering wood, attending Fiddler's Festival or Festival of Native Arts, potlatches, play basketball, go to school, go visiting, hunting, ice fishing, setting beaver traps etc...

Activity: (input)

Read one or both of the legends from "When People Meet Animals," "The Female Beaver," good follow-up from day 2, or "A Bear Hunt."

Have student partners again listen for specific information or idea. The main focus of discussion should be on the respect shown to the animals whose lives are taken to feed and clothe humans who hunt them. (Be prepared to answer questions about the animal spirits and the concept of animals as people)

"The Female Beaver"

- What time of the year was the young man out hunting?

- What did the beaver people teach the young man?

- How long did the man stay with his beaver family?

- How did the beaver people help the young man return to his home village?

- Why did the man return the bones to the water?

- What sacrifice did the man's beaver wife willingly make for her human husband?

"A Bear Hunt"

- what tool is used to hunt the bear?

- When is the bear hunted, and why?

- Why were the two hunters horrified when they speared the bear and he fell back into his den?

- What rule were the two hunters supposed to follow to protect them from the bear's spirit?

- What happened when the son did not follow the rules of how to treat a bear after they are killed?

Activity: (input/guided practice)

Discuss and define the word respect. Use appropriate student references for understanding. What ways do we demonstrate respect for people and things today and in the story.


-Treat animals as kindly as we do people because they feed and clothe us, return bones to water

-Follow rules to insure we have not wasted an animal, such as the rule directing hunters to cut off the paws and bursting the eyes to ensure that the hunters got the bear and did not just wound him and then not use his meat or hide for food and clothing

-Rules to say who (men or women) may hunt what animals


-We are still taught "not to waste food"

-To treat clothes and toys with care and respect so they last

-To share with others, similar to giving of oneself so others can have some

Discuss or list some rules students have in their families and in school that demonstrate or reinforce behaviors that are intended to be respectful

Show video of modern dog musher Emmit Peters. Students will be looking to see what a village is like and what winter activities are shown in the video. These include mushing for racing and trapping, school children, etc. Point out that the music is Athabascan Fiddling music much like we can hear every winter in Fairbanks at the Annual Fiddler's Festival and various potlucks and meetings of Native and Non-Native people.

Contemporary winter activities include snowmachining for fun and work, dog racing for youth and adults, attending potlucks, corporation annual meetings, ice carving, basketball tournaments and music festivals and celebrations both in Fairbanks and in various villages.

Activity: (closure)

After listening to the Dene' winter stories/video, students will discuss traditional Dene' winter camp activities using the large poster board or add words and pictures to the mind map.

Activity: (independent practice)

Assign pages for coloring from the Athabascan ABC Coloring Book

Students will save colored pages in a folder so when they are finished with the letters they will have their own alphabet book.

The original scene they drew on day I & 2 will become the outside cover for their Alphabet book.

You may want to make a pocket for them to store their paper dolls somehow in their coloring book.

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