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High School Mathematics Problems from Alaska

A database of lessons and units searchable by content and cultural standards, cultural region and grade level. More units will be available soon. You can use Acrobat Reader to look at the PDF version of the Cover Sheet for the Units and Self-Assessment for Cultural Standards in Practice.

Subsistence Fishing on the Kenai


Bobbi Jordan

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Standards: Estimation and Computation. 

Performance Standards: A3.3.2, A3.3.3, A3.4.5, A3.4.6, A3.3.6

Concepts: Estimation, Ratios, Percents, d = r x t

Carnegie Chapter: Proportional Reasoning and Percentages.

Overview: The following unit deals with dip net fishing on the Kenai River during the month of July in Alaska. It is an activity on estimation and determining reasonable solutions to a problem. It also reviews ratios, percents, and rate problems. All of the numbers are contrived and can be substituted with friendlier numbers if the teacher feels that this activity is necessary.

It might be nice to discuss the different ways that people of Alaska subsistence fish for salmon. The process on the Kenai is to drift with large nets down the mouth of the river in order to dip nets for reds. It is an interesting process even on a slow day, since groups of boats essentially travel in a circuit, drifting down the river, then powering back up, then drifting back down once more.

Subsistence Fishing on the Kenai River

Jenna went to subsistence fish for sockeye salmon at the mouth of the Kenai River. She knew that her dad drifted their boat for _ of a mile before motoring back up the river to drift the same section of river. She also noted that all the other subsistence-fishing boats averaged 2 nets apiece.


  1. On the first _ mile drift, Jenna counted 55 boats powering back upstream. She counted 42 boats on their second drift, and 51 boats on their third drift. Without making any calculations, what is the estimated number of boats that powered upstream past Jenna’s boat? Explain how you arrived at your answer.









  1. Jenna also knew that for every boat powering up the river there was another boat drifting down. Approximately how many boats were on the same 1/4 mile stretch of river?










  1. If each subsistence vessel averaged 2 nets apiece, how many nets were dipnetting for sockeye salmon in this area?








  1. Anchored in the same 1/4 mile stretch of river, Jenna counted 55 commercial fishing vessels that were not fishing. What was the ratio of commercial vessels to subsistence vessels in the area?








  1. What was the total number of boats?








  1. What percent of the vessels were subsistence vessels?








  1. What percent of the vessels were commercial vessels?









  1. If it took 20 minutes to drift downstream before powering back, how fast was Jenna’s boat drifting?









  1. In two hours, Jenna and her dad netted 32 sockeye. What was the average number of fish caught in each drift if it took 20 minutes to drift down and 5 minutes to power back up the river?











  1. When Jenna and her dad went back to the dock, the Department of Fish and Game protection officer was surveying boats to get an estimate of the number of fish being caught. Jenna told her that they caught 32, another boat tied up and counted 45 fish, and a third boat also tied up and had 27. What was the average number of fish caught by all three boats?









  1. Use your average for question #10 to predict how many fish were harvested in two hours if all the boats that Jenna estimated on the river stopped their fishing after two hours.









  1. If each sockeye caught averaged a weight of 10 pounds, what was the approximate number of pounds of fish caught in the two hours?






  1. Jenna and her dad can each fillet a 10-pound sockeye in approximately 10 minutes. Approximately how long would it take them to fillet all the sockeye that they harvested in the past two hours?
Table of Contents


AL-CAN Highway Problem

Cigarette Smoking

Commercial Salmon Fishing

Cutting Cordwood

Dog Lot Math

Firefighting Crew

Firewood Problem

Investigation of Herring Statistics

Jesse Thomas Moose Hide Problem

Predicting Plant Coverage

Problem 1 - Converting the Date to the Day of the Year

Problem 2 - Azimuth and Arc Length

Problem 3 - Reading a Graph: Azimuth Range vs. Day in Barrow, Alaska

Problem 4 - Writing an Equation: Altitude Range vs. Day in Barrow, Alaska

Problem 5 - Problem Setup and Pattern Recognition: Sunrise in Barrow, Alaska

Problem 6 - Extensions of Data: Barrow, AK Sunrise/Sunset Information

Problem 7 - Writing an Equation: Fundraiser

Problem 8 - Writing an Equation: Fundraiser Choosing a Distributor

Stanley Jonas Travel Problem

Subsistence Fishing on the Kenai

Tourist and Traveler Information



For the Teacher's Guides, please email Alaska Native Knowledge Network

Whouy Sze Kuinalth
"Teaching Our Many Grandchildren"
Tauhna Cauyalitahtug
(To Make a Drum)
Math Story Problems
St. Lawrence Island Rain Parka Winds and Weather Willow
Driftwood Snowshoes Moose
Plants of the Tundra Animal Classification for Yup'ik Region Rabbit Snaring
The Right Tool for the Job
Fishing Tools and Technology
Blackfish Family Tree
Medicinal Plants of the Kodiak Alutiiq Archipelago Beaver in Interior Alaska Digging and Preparing Spruce Roots
Moose in Interior Alaska Birds Around the Village  


Handbook for Culturally Responsive Science Curriculum by Sidney Stephens
Excerpt: "The information and insights contained in this document will be of interest to anyone involved in bringing local knowledge to bear in school curriculum. Drawing upon the efforts of many people over a period of several years, Sidney Stephens has managed to distill and synthesize the critical ingredients for making the teaching of science relevant and meaningful in culturally adaptable ways."



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Last modified August 18, 2006