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

Athabascan RavenAthabascans of Interior Alaska

Section 1: Adaptations to Basic Needs

5 to 7 days 

OBJECTIVES

1. Students can list the basic necessities of life
2. Students can express the difference between man-made and natural environment
3. Students can name 3 edible animals and 3 edible plants indigenous to their home area
4.Students can define the term "adaptations"
5. Students can identify adaptations which they use 

MATERIALS:

1. Native Peoples and Languages of Alaska map
2. Materials from the library or IMC on natural resources in your area
3. Butcher paper and marker
4. Student text: Alaskan Athabascans
5. Notebook for each student (teacher's choice)
6. Natural Environment Questionnaire
7. Worksheet I
8. Scavenger hunt list
9. Pictures and materials for bulletin board:
Natural environment of Alaska (Enrichment)
10. Quiz I

PREPARATION:

1. Tack up Language map
2. Distribute student text, Alaskan Athabascans
3. Notebook for each student (loose-leaf)
4. Duplicate Natural Environment Questionnaire (6 or 7 copies).
5.Make copies of Worksheet I and Quiz I
6. Copy lists for scavenger hunt

ACTIVITIES

1.Make notebooks
2.Make a wall chart showing different methods of getting the basic needs
3.Read and discuss Chapter I in Alaskan Athabascans
4.Natural Environment Questionnaire
5.Students set up a bulletin board on natural resources of Anchorage (enrichment)
6.Worksheet I
7.Read and discuss Chapter II in Alaskan Athabascans
8.Adaptations scavenger hunt
9. Quiz I

NEW VOCABULARY:
fulfill
man-made
natural
environment
Tanaina
Athabascan
adapt/adaptation

Section 1: ADAPTATIONS TO BASIC NEEDS

MAKE NOTEBOOKS
The first activity for this section is to make notebooks or set aside sections in loose-leaf binders on Athabascan culture. As worksheets, drawings, tests, and other papers are completed for this unit the students should add them to their notebooks.

DISCUSSION
Now begin a class discussion on basic needs which all humans share. Ask students to name those things which each human being needs in order to survive. They might list food, water, clothing, shelter, air, heat; consider whether each of the items is essential.

WALL CHART
Then ask students to think about how they fulfill their basic needs. Begin a large wall chart recording their responses. Leave the chart up so that students can add ways in which they meet their basic needs throughout this section. In addition, you will be adding to it throughout the Athabascan unit as you learn about new places.

When students have listed a large number of ways in which they fulfill their basic needs, ask them to look at the chart from a different perspective. Ask them to name those things which have been made or obtained outside of Anchorage. With a pencil, draw a light line through those items. Look at the remainder of the list. Take inventory of the locally-obtained items. Now ask students to eliminate from that list anything that is not hand-made or hand-done. After drawing lines through those, look again at what is left.

Ask the students, What does this tell you about the way we fulfill our basic needs? Could we survive without imports and machines?"

ENRICHMENT
Research where some of the items came from. For example, ask a grocer where the produce in the store comes from. Talk to a contractor about where materials for houses come from, Etc.

SAMPLE WALL CHART:

How People Get Their Basic Needs

 

Need

 

Your village or town today

 

Upper Tanana area 1950 (Tetlin)

 

Other Athabascan Areas

(enrichment)

 

Food

 

Store

Garden

Hunting

Fishing

 

(this column can be filled in later, when you begin work with the student book Tetlin as I Knew it)

 

 

Shelter

 

Rent, buy or build: split level, trailer, log cabin, or an apartment

 

 

 

Clothing

 

Buy finished clothing or woven cloth to make clothing

 

 

 

Water

 

Turn on tap

 

 

 

Heat

 

 

 

 

Air

 

 

 

NOTE: The examples given here may be different from those which your students come up with. Honor their choices, providing guidance where necessary. 

TEXT: CHAPTER I, ALASKAN ATHABASCANS
Have students read chapter, Basic Needs in Alaskan Athabascans. Then review what has been read using notes at the tops of the following pages.
Review new vocabulary:
basic needs, culture, natural environment, man-made environment.

CHAPTER I
BASIC NEEDS

All human beings need certain things to stay alive. You know what they are: food, air, water, clothing, and shelter. All human beings need these things, but different people get them in different ways. It is the different ways that Alaska Natives have used to get their basic needs that you will be studying. These ways are part of what we call a culture.

Before learning about people in other places or times, look at the way you fulfill your needs right now in Anchorage. How do you get food, air, water, clothing, and shelter? Where do the things you need come from? Could your family get them if you were the only people living in the area? If there were no town, stores, or money, could you fulfill your basic needs?

Perhaps you can imagine how you would survive: You would make use of the natural environment of the area. You would get your food clothing, shelter, water, and air from the plants, animals, minerals, and features of the natural environment.

DISCUSSION
The Tanaina Athabascan group is the group which has inhabited the Cook Inlet, Matanuska Valley, Lake Iliamna, and Stoney River areas of Alaska for about 300 years. If any of your students are Tanaina or Kenaitze (Kë nï tsë: the Kenai Peninsula subdivision of Tanainas), ask them to find out where their families originally lived. Mark that spot on the Native Peoples and Languages of Alaska map.

What is your natural environment? The natural environment in Anchorage is not always easy to find. You have to imagine this area without all its houses, roads, buildings, bike trails, footbridges, water wells, playgrounds, and lawns. These things are all part of the man-made environment of Anchorage.

Lets look at Anchorage without its man-made environment. It is an area with some birch trees, some spruce and hemlock. There are swampy areas. There are marshy areas where birds nest. There are clear streams flowing down from the mountains, with salmon, and trout swimming up them in the summer and fall. There is tundra on the hills above the treeline. And there are many kinds of wildlife, such as moose, bears, sheep, clams, fish and birds.

This natural environment is what the Tanaina (also spelled Denaina) Athabascans found when they first arrived in the Anchorage area a long time ago. It was from this natural environment that they fulfilled their basic needs.

When those early Tanainas came to Anchorage, the first thing they had to do was learn about the environment. They had to learn what resources were in it. They had to know what time of year to get the resources. They had to know where and how to get the resources. It took each person many years to learn all those details. You'll be learning a few of them in this unit. 

CONJECTURE
Ask students for conjectures on how the early Tanainas fulfilled their basic needs. In a class brainstorming activity, make a quick list of the resources students are aware of in the Anchorage area. Explain to students that early Athabascans used a very large territory for fulfilling their basic needs, and traveled a good deal. Therefore, students can include resources for the Matanuska Valley as well as the Anchorage Bowl in their conjectures.

DESCRIBE THE ENVIRONMENT
The next step is for the students to more specifically describe the environment of the Anchorage Bowl - one of the home areas of the Tanaina Athabascans.

FIELD TRIP
If the weather is nice and there is little snow cover outside, you might plan an outing with the class to explore different features within walking distance of your school. For instance, you might visit a forested area, a spruce bog, tundra, a creek, hilly and well-drained land, bluffs along the shore, and so forth. When you return to the classroom, distribute the Natural Environment Questionnaires as described below.

BRAINSTORM
If weather does not permit an outing, you can involve the students in a brainstorming session before they work on the Natural Environment Questionnaire.

The brainstorming session can begin with your writing the words "natural environment" on the board. Ask students what is included in an environment. Elicit general terms, such as weather, geography, plants, and animals. Or, if students list specific items, such as moose, creeks, trees, place those on the board and work with students to group those items into more general categories. Write the general categories on a piece of butcher paper and tack it next to the Basic Needs chart. Refer to the sample on the next page.

NATURAL ENVIRONMENT QUESTIONNAIRE
When you have the categories listed, divide the class into groups of about 5 or 6 students. Explain that you believe that there is enough knowledge within your class to make an accurate description of the Anchorage environment, but that you will need to pool all that everyone knows to do it. Each group will be given a questionnaire to fill out. The students' answers should come from their own experience, though if they want to look up answers in books, ask parents, librarians, or others they may do so. The groups should have the rest of your social studies period to answer the questionnaire, with the option of taking it home that evening to complete.

The next day, give the groups about five minutes to reorganize their answers and to compare any new ones they have come up with. Then begin a class discussion based on answers by the groups. Be sure that every group has a chance to answer at least one of the questions. As students give answers to the questions, have them decide which categories on your chart those answers fit under (see next page). Gradually fill in the list. You might point out to students how little (or how much) relationship there is between the way students obtain their basic needs now, and what is available in their natural environment.

SAMPLE NATURAL ENVIROMENT CHART:

Natural Environment Chart
(to be used with Natural Environment Questionnaire)

 

Weather

 

Geography

 

Plants

 

Animals

 

Answers to questions 1,2,3,4,5,6,7, 8,9, 10 fit in this category

 

Answers to questions 15,16,17,18, fit in this category

 

Answers to questions 12,13,14,16 fit in this category

 

Answers to questions 11, 15 fit in this category

ENRICHMENT: BILLETIN BOARD OR DISPLAY
Have students collect pictures from magazines or other sources, or draw pictures which show the natural resources indigenous to the Anchorage area (see Appendix D for resource material on this topic) for a bulletin board. Collect Alaskan animal skins or press plants for a classroom display. Or start a terrarium consisting of indigenous plants. The students should design, label, and put up the bulletin board or display, perhaps to be entitled "Natural Environment of the Anchorage area".

ENRICHMENT: TASTING PARTY
Either collect a number of the edible plants from this area (see Appendix D) or bring some in from your freezer for a natural foods tasting party. Encourage everyone from the class to bring in something made from a resource indigenous to the area.

ADAPTATIONS
WORKSHEET I: SMALL GROUP ACTIVITY

The next activity is a quick introduction to the concept of "adaptations"

 Divide the class into small work groups (3 or 4 students per group). Explain to the class that the groups will be racing against each other in the task of filling out a worksheet. You will hand out a sheet which contains two columns. The left column lists a number of different natural environments. The right column lists things human beings around the world have made to help them survive in those natural environments. The groups' task is to match the things people have made to the environment they have made them for. The first group to complete the worksheet must be totally quiet and raise their hands when they are done. Only a 100% correct paper makes a winner.

When you're sure students have understood the directions, distribute Worksheet I face down to the groups. Signal for a start. Students may then begin working.

When all groups have completed the task, discuss the sheet with the class. Note that the heading at the top of the worksheet is "ADAPTATIONS". Ask if anyone would like to hazard a definition of that term.

TEXT: CHAPTER II, ALASKAN ATHABASCANS
Now read Chapter II, "Adaptations", as a class. Review the meaning of the term adaptation. Note and discuss the distinction made in the text between adaptations that meet basic needs and those that meet other needs.

CHAPTER II
ADAPTATIONS

After the early Tanaina Athabascans in this area got the things they needed to fulfill their basic needs, the next step was to use those things. It takes a lot of knowledge to use the natural environment well. For instance, after they had found, tracked, and killed a moose, the Tanainas needed to know how to butcher it. They needed to know which parts could be used for food, which parts to make tools, which parts could become clothes. They needed to know how to preserve the meat.

The ways in which people use or change the things from their natural environment to meet a need are called their adaptations to the natural environment. One example of an adaptation to our natural environment is a house. A house uses materials from the environment to protect against the rain, snow, and cold. It helps keep people warm, and so fulfills the basic need for shelter.

The early Athabascans made many adaptations to their environment. And today, all Alaskans, both Athabascans and non-Athabascans are still making and using adaptations. Many of our adaptations today no longer meet basic needs. Paved roads, for instance, are an adaptation to the need to travel quickly in cars. But that is not a basic need.

In this unit, you will be looking at some of the ways some Alaskan Athabascans have adapted to their environments in the past. You will learn that, unlike the way many Alaskans live today, the early Athabascans used mostly their natural environment in adapting. You will learn, too, that even today, many Athabascans prefer to live where they can be close to the natural environment, and that their adaptations serve mostly to fulfill basic needs.

ENRICHMENT: PREREQUISITE SKILLS
In a classroom discussion, allow students to conjecture on the skills that are necessary to obtain a pound of meat in our society today; those which were necessary for Athabascans in the past to obtain a pound of meat. Examples of necessary skills today might be:

what money is
how to count
how to use money
what a store is
how to travel to a store
how to find the meat counter
how to read (helps but is not necessary) etc.

Examples of necessary skills for past hunters might be:

where to find the animal
how to get there
how to make tools to kill it (helps but not necessary)
how to kill it
how to butcher it, etc. 

ADAPTATIONS SCAVENGER HUNT
The next activity will be an Adaptations Scavenger Hunt. The class should be divided into teams (about four - these may be P.E. squads or other previously established groups). Each team will be given a list and it will be that team's task to find items that fit the requirements on the list, then to bring them back to the classroom.

You will need to give your students free access to parts of the school other than their classroom: the playground, library, multipurpose room, etc. Be sure to clear this with your principal before beginning.

Explain to students that the first team to return to the room with all 12 requirements satisfied wins the game. If a team is first, but is incomplete or incorrect in its choice of items, then the next team with 12 correct items wins. After 20 minutes, all teams must return to the room, regardless of whether or not they have found all items. Then the team with the most items wins.

Now give each team a copy of the Scavenger Hunt list. Read the directions aloud with the students. Note that the items are scrambled so that all squads will not be searching for the same thing at the same time. Go over the 12 items on the list and make sure students understand the vocabulary.

Then allow them to begin their hunt.

When students have reassembled, check the items they have chosen in the following manner:

The presumptive winner must go through the list, item by item, and explain to the rest of the class what its adaptation to each requirement is. The rest of the class should have the opportunity to discuss whether or not the item chosen is, in fact, an adaptation to the requirement. In cases of a disagreement, you should have the final word.

When a winner has been found, ask other teams for adaptations which they have come up with that were not mentioned by the winning team. Briefly discuss which of the requirements mentioned had to do with a basic need. Ask for opinions: do you think most adaptations we use refer to basic needs or luxuries?

ENRICHMENT: WRITING
An extra activity for students might be to write a paragraph or story which begins this way:

"All changes that people make in the natural environment do not help people adapt better to that environment. In fact, some change might actually be called non-adaptive". For instance...

QUIZ:
Administer Quiz I.

NATURAL ENVIRONMENT QUESTIONNAIRE
WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT YOUR NATURAL ENVIRONMENT
?

1. What is the coldest temperature you remember in your home town?

 2. What month did it occur in?

 3. What is the hottest temperature you remember in your home town?

 4. What month did it occur in?

 5. Which month has the most rain or snow?

 6. Which month has the most clear weather?

 7. Which months can you play outside without a sweater?

 8. Which months can you sled or ski?

 9. At about what time does the sun set on the shortest day of the year in Anchorage?

 10. At about what time does the sun set on the longest day of the year in Anchorage?

 11. Name as many animals (other than pets or farm animals) that live in this area as you can.

 12. Name as many kinds of plants (other than trees and garden plants) that grow in this area as you can.

 13. Name as many edible kinds of plants that grow in this area as you can.

 14. Name as many kinds of trees that grow in this area as you can.

15. Can you think of a place near Anchorage where many birds like to nest? What is it called?

 16. Can you think of a place near Anchorage where you can pick lots of berries? Where?

 17. Name as many creeks in the Anchorage area as you can.

 18. Anchorage has the following kinds of areas: tundra, spruce and birch forest, swamp spruce area, marshland, and bluffs. Tell where at least three of those different areas can be found.

 BONUS: Tell what the natural environment used to be like on the spot where your classroom now stands.

WORKSHEET l
ADAPTATIONS

DIRECTIONS:On the left-hand side of the page you will find a list of different natural environments. On the right-hand side, you will see some things people have made to help them survive in those environments. Match the environments with the things that would help people adapt to those environments by placing the correct letters in the blanks.

ENVIRONMENTS ADAPTATIONS

___1. Rainy climate

a. Slanted roof to shed water

___2. Dry climate

b. snowshoes

___3. Bright sun

c. Face nets

___4. No daylight in winter

d. sunglasses

___5. Tall, thick forests

e. flat roofs to catch water

___6. Lots of snow

f. sod houses

___7. Thick grass no trees

g. wooden houses

___8. Lots of mosquitoes

h. flashlights

ANSWER GUIDE

WORKSHEET l
ADAPTATIONS

DIRECTIONS:On the left-hand side of the page you will find a list of different natural environments. On the right-hand side, you will see some things people have made to help them survive in those environments. Match the environments with the things that would help people adapt to those environments by placing the correct letters in the blanks.

 ENVIRONMENTS ADAPTATIONS

__a_1. Rainy climate

a. Slanted roof to shed water

__e_2. Dry climate

b. snowshoes

_d__3. Bright sun

c. Face nets

_h__4. No daylight in winter

d. sunglasses

_g__5. Tall, thick forests

e. flat roofs to catch water

_b__6. Lots of snow

f. sod houses

__f_7. Thick grass no trees

g. wooden houses

_c__8. Lots of mosquitoes

h. flashlights

GROUP A
ADAPTATIONS
SCAVENGER HUNT

DIRECTIONS: Find 12 items which serve as adaptations in the ways mentioned below. If necessary, you may make some of the adaptations yourself. All adaptations must be portable; that is, you must carry them into the classroom. Remember, this is a race for speed and accuracy. THE FIRST TEAM WITH 12 CORRECT ADAPTATIONS WINS.

Find:
1. An adaptation to the rain.
2. An adaptation to the heat.
3. An adaptation to the high cost of
4. An adaptation to lots of paperwork.
5. An adaptation to having lots of kids together in one place.
6. An adaptation to a law.
7. An adaptation that was made in a factory.
8. An adaptation that was made entirely out of natural products.
9. An adaptation to a physical impairment.
10. An adaptation that has been imported to Alaska.
11. An adaptation that was invented in Alaska.
12. An adaptation that changed the environment. 

GROUP B
ADAPTATIONS
SCAVENGER HUNT

DIRECTIONS: Find 12 items which serve as adaptations in the ways mentioned below. If necessary, you may make some of the adaptations yourself. All adaptations must be portable; that is, you must carry them into the classroom. Remember, this is a race for speed and accuracy. THE FIRST TEAM WITH 12 CORRECT ADAPTATIONS WINS.

Find:
1. An adaptation to having lots of kids together in one place.
2 .An adaptation to a law.
3. An adaptation that changed the environment.
4. An adaptation that was invented in Alaska.
5. An adaptation to the high cost of gasoline.
6. An adaptation to the heat.
7. An adaptation that was made entirely out of natural products.
8. An adaptation that has been imported to Alaska.
9. An adaptation to lots of paperwork.
10.An adaptation to the rain.
11.An adaptation to a physical impairment.
12.An adaptation that was made in a factory.

GROUP C
ADAPTATIONS
SCAVENGER HUNT

DIRECTIONS: Find 12 items which serve as adaptations in the ways mentioned below. If necessary, you may make some of the adaptations yourself. All adaptations must be portable; that is, you must carry them into the classroom. Remember, this is a race for speed and accuracy. THE FIRST TEAM WITH 12 CORRECT ADAPTATIONS WINS.

Find:
1. An adaptation that changed the environment.
2. An adaptation that was invented in Alaska.
3.An adaptation that was been imported to Alaska.
4. An adaptation to a physical impairment.
5.An adaptation that was made entirely out of natural products.
6.An adaptation that was made in a factory.
7.An adaptation to a law.
8.An adaptation to having lots of kids together in one place.
9.And adaptation to lots of paperwork.
10.An adaptation the high cost of gasoline.
11.An adaptation to the heat.
12.And adaptation to the rain.

GROUP D
ADAPTATIONS
SCAVENGER HUNT

DIRECTIONS: Find 12 items which serve as adaptations in the ways mentioned below. If necessary, you may make some of the adaptations yourself. All adaptations must be portable; that is, you must carry them into the classroom. Remember, this is a race for speed and accuracy. THE FIRST TEAM WITH 12 CORRECT ADAPTATIONS WINS.

Find:
1.An adaptation to a law.
2.An adaptation that was made in a factory.
3.An adaptation to having lots of kids together in one place.
4.An adaptation that was made entirely out of natural products.
5.An adaptation to lots of paperwork.
6.An adaptation to a physical impairment.
7.An adaptation the high cost of gasoline.
8.An adaptation that was been imported to Alaska.
9.An adaptation to the heat.
10.An adaptation that was invented in Alaska.
11.And adaptation to the rain.
12.An adaptation that changed the environment.

QUIZ 1
Basic Needs and Adaptations

 1. List all the things that human beings need if they are to survive (basic needs). (16 points)

 

2. Explain the difference between the man-made environment and the natural environment. (8 points)

 

3. Some parts of the Anchorage environment are listed below. On the space next to each one, write whether it is part of the man-made environment or the natural environment. (33 points)

_________________

a. bike path

_________________

b. Campbell Creek

_________________

c. smog

_________________

d. airport

_________________

e. clouds

_________________

f. Eklutna Lake

_________________

g. northern lights (aurora borealis)

_________________

h. forest

_________________

i. Parkstrip

_________________

j. your school

_________________

k. berry patches

4. Name three animals from your area that could be used for food. (Note: these should not be farm animals. They should be from the natural environment.) (12 points)
a.
b.
c.
5. Name three plants from your area that could be used for food. (Note: these should not be farm plants. They should be from the natural environment.) (12 points)
a.
b.
c.

6. What group of Native people lived in the Anchorage area before the city of Anchorage was built? (7 points)

 

7. Fill in the blanks below. There are several possible answers. Use your imagination. (12 points)

a. "Sunglasses are an adaptation to __________________."
b. __________________ is an adaptation to cold weather.
c. Rubber boots are an adaptation to _________________.

 Answer Guide

QUIZ 1
Basic Needs and Adaptations

1. List all the things that human beings need if they are to survive (basic needs). (16 points)
Food, shelter, water, clothing, air
2. Explain the difference between the man-made environment and the natural environment. (8 points)
The natural environment was here when the first people arrived. The man-made environment is made of changes or additions people made to the natural environment.

3. Some parts of the Anchorage environment are listed below. On the space next to each one, write whether it is part of the man-made environment or the natural environment. (33 points)

___man-made____________

a. bike path

___natural_____________

b. Campbell Creek

___ man-made __________

c. smog

____ man-made ________

d. airport

_____ natural ________

e. clouds

_____ natural ________

f. Eklutna Lake

______ natural _______

g. northern lights (aurora borealis)

______ natural _______

h. forest

____ man-made ________

i. Parkstrip

_____ man-made _______

j. your school

_____ natural ________

k. berry patches

4. Name three animals from your area that could be used for food. (Note: these should not be farm animals. They should be from the natural environment.) (12 points)
Answers will vary
a.
b.
c.
5. Name three plants from your area that could be used for food. (Note: these should not be farm plants. They should be from the natural environment.) (12 points)
Answers will vary
a.
b.
c.
6. What group of Native people lived in the Anchorage area before the city of Anchorage was built? (7 points)
 Tanaina Athabascans
7. Fill in the blanks below. There are several possible answers. Use your imagination.

a. "Sunglasses are an adaptation to_ bright sun(e.g.)."
b. A fur coat(e.g.)__is an adaptation to cold weather.
c. Rubber boots are an adaptation to_mud puddles(e.g.)_.

 

Section 1 Adaptations to Basic Needs
Section 2 Athabascans
Section 3 Upper Tanana Athabascans
Section 4 The Yearly Cycle
Section 5 There's More To Culture Than Basic Needs
Section 6 Could You Survive?
Appendix A
Appendix B
Appendix C
Appendix D
Appendix E
Appendix F
ALASKAN ATHABASCANS
WHEN PEOPLE MEET ANIMALS
A VIEW OF THE PAST
TETLIN AS I KNEW IT

OTHER SOCIAL STUDIES UNITS

 
 

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Last modified August 17, 2006