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

Curriculum Resources for the Alaskan Environment

Subject Areas: survival skills, cultural heritage math, physics, physical education

Timeline: two weeks to one quarter

Grade Levels: 7-12

Purpose: to promote survival of subsistence skills; to increase school/community contact; to design useful tools for the community


Nancy Stringham Buck and E. Meade
Subsistence Tool



Square bullet Activities

  • Decide on a mudshark trap, dog sled, ice chip, or other subsistence tool.
  • Arrange assistance from local resource people, and plan the project with their help:

    learn about traditional construction methods

    select and acquire materials; build the tool; use the tool.

  • Have students keep notes. Draw diagrams and write instructions for students in the next class.

Square bullet Resources

  • skilled community residents
  • dog mushers' association
  • tool specimens
  • scrap metal, wood, ivory
  • metal and wood working tools
  • information about metal tempering
  • Cooperative Extension Service


  • Hold class outside the school, in the instructor's home, or in another building.
  • Publish the instructions as a booklet or poster.
  • Organize a contest around the finished tool.
  • Redesign a tool:

    examine (collect, draw, photo. graph, describe) old tools found in the village

    design various blade shapes and styles

    test effectiveness: drop tool from a set height into sand, dirt, or snow; measure depth/volume of impact

    vary blade shape: length to width ratio; straight, concave, or convex. Test for effectiveness (as above)

    try working with steel, stainless steel, bronze, brass, ivory, etc.

    examine designs from different eras or geographic areas

    develop a market for a successful product. A good commercial ice chisel is generally not available today.


Village Map and Directory

Land Selection

Local Weather Station

Star Mapping

6" Newtonian Reflecting Telescope Construction

Planetarium Construction

Investigation of Snow Melting

Insulation Experiments: Cardboard Boxes/Snow-Fenced Houses

Durable, Energy-Efficient Homes

Practical Application of Alternative Energy System

Solar Energy Uses

Construction of School/Community Facilities

Bush Shop or How to Learn Carpentry Without Wood

Basic Home Maintenance

Snowmachine Maintenance

Glider Construction (Aviation Shop)

Subsistence Tool Construction

Operating a Trapline, Subsistence Trapline, or Subsistence Net

Survival Skills

Heritage Campout

Netting Fish Efficiently

Natural History

Study of a Food Resource

Effects of Diet on Mice or Rats

Medicinal Plants

Farming the Sea

Summer Marine Science Program

Vegetable Gardening

Greenhouse Construction and Gardening

Chicken Farming

Water Usage Study

Garbage Disposal

Village Dogs

Fire Safety



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