This is part of the ANKN Logo This is part of the ANKN Banner
This is part of the ANKN Logo This is part of the ANKN Banner Home Page About ANKN Publications Academic Programs Curriculum Resources Calendar of Events Announcements Site Index This is part of the ANKN Banner
This is part of the ANKN Logo This is part of the ANKN Banner This is part of the ANKN Banner
This is part of the ANKN Logo This is part of the ANKN Banner This is part of the ANKN Banner
Native Pathways to Education
Alaska Native Cultural Resources
Indigenous Knowledge Systems
Indigenous Education Worldwide


Note: This page uses ISER's Iñupiaq fonts. To download the font, go to:
Go to the InupiaQ Phrasebook link to follow their instructions.

Unit 1:

Caribou Tuttu Rangifer tarandus

Unit 2:

Anatomy of the Caribou

Unit 3:

Natural Products made from the Caribou

Unit 4:

A symposium of Educators, Elders, Scientists and students addressing the Subsistence Issue with an emphasis on Iñupiaq Values of Sharing and Respect for Nature. Respect for Nature includes the importance of taking care of the Land and Water, free from pollution.


Elmer Jackson, Iñupiaq Coordinator
AFN/Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative
The National Science Foundation

Village Science Applications - 1995
November, 1999

GOAL ~ Life Science

To have students develop an interest in Science.
To make them aware of careers in science.


For students to learn about the caribou and the importance of keeping the environment free from pollution.

The four unit lessons - grades four through twelve.

Unit one will be: Unit on Caribou. This study will document the importance of the caribou for the Iñupiat and the Gwich'in people. The promise of keeping the environment free of pollution from industry and fossil fuels.

Unit two is on the Anatomy of the Tuttu. This study begins with a classroom discussion and study of the parts of the caribou. Part of the study involves a field trip for a week subsistence hunting during the fall migration. Elders, Teachers and Guides will teach the students hunting skills and how it is to be out in the elements. They will learn the anatomy, skinning, butchering process and caring of the meat.

Unit three is Natural Products made from the Tuttu.
The third unit will involve the process of creating warm winter clothing. Students and their teachers will be taught the tanning process and will sew warm winter clothing. They will learn what products can be created from the caribou as a whole, from the muscle tendons, bone to the hooves and antlers.


Unit four will be a symposium of students, teachers and invited participants:
Scientists-in-Residence - UAF and Elders. Agenda items; careers in the science-field, they will discuss the importance of protecting subsistence and the environment. Students will conduct experiments and will report on their results or findings. Elders have the natural gift of wisdom, they are experts in the Native Ways of Knowing

Topic Theme: Subsistence and the Protection of the Environment

Unit on Caribou, Part one
By Elmer Jackson

Caribou ~ Tuttu ~ Rangifer tarandus

Background Information:

Like indigenous people of Arctic Village, the Iñupiat who live in the Northwest Arctic, are blessed with the caribou. For generations the caribou have offered of themselves to the people who lived off the land and waters. They have sustained the people from time immemorial.

Every fall the caribou migrate together in the thousands. Their migration leads to their winter feeding grounds to the south. When the suns shines warm in the spring the females and calves lead the migration to the North Slope. When they arrive to the place of their birth, the pregnant females give birth to their young. The large massive bulls are the last in the migration. This is the time when their young antlers are covered with velvet. Feeding on the fresh sweet grasses, willow leaves, lichens and herbs, their antlers grow and will mature in the fall. The tuttu feeds and begin to gain fat reserves, which are necessary for their survival during the winter. Their winter foods are the mosses and lichens. Other than outrunning their predators, they defend themselves using their antlers that have hardened.

The habitat of the tuttu changes like the seasons. Their habitat is in the Arctic and Alpine tundra, near or above the timberline. In the winter they feed in the tundra and taiga forests, by digging into the snow with their large concave hooves. They feed on tundra moss and lichen.

Fantastic Facts: Alaska is home to nearly a million caribou, in thirty-two herds. They travel greater distances twice each year than any other land mammal, up to three thousand miles. The Western Arctic Caribou herd is estimated at 340,000. Their migration takes them to crossing the Kobuk River, Noatak River and the Squirrel River. They cross channels, slues and lakes. Their migration takes them through the Baird and Schwatka Mountains, other hills and valleys. For many generations, they have followed the trails made by other caribou before them.

The caribou are excellent swimmers. Their large concave hooves and hair fibers that are hollow, allow them to swim across rivers, lakes and streams. They are fast runners and can outrun their predators.

The Western Arctic herd crosses every fall at their traditional crossing place called Onion Portage, it was a settlement where the Iñupiat lived. This place is special; it is a place where the people and the tuttu have shared the land for many generations. Remains of the tuttu' s bones are found at the old settlement.

The caribou and Mother Nature have provided the Iñupiat with food for sustenance and the skin is tanned and sewn into warm winter clothing.

The Iñupiat Values of Sharing and Respect for all life forms. Respect for Nature means that the land, rivers, streams should not be polluted. There are environmental factors that will show if there are problems in terms of the health of the caribou, other animals and fish.

Fact: Acid rain kills lichens, moss and plants, main source of food of the tuttu.

Can we allow the caribou to become extinct? What will happen to the caribou, if their food sources die?

Vocabulary Words:

1. Indigenous - adjective.

Living or occurring in an area; native.

2. migrate - verb.

To move from place to place; to travel from one country, region, or domicile to settle in another; to go to a new habitat.

3. predator - noun.

An animal that survives by hunting for its food. It is predatory.

4. habitat - noun.

The region in which an animal or plants lives and grows.

5. generation - noun.

A group of individuals born about the same time.

6. archaeology - noun.

Scientific study of ancient places and times.

7. acid - noun.

A chemical compound that is released to the atmosphere in the form of acid rain. This add kills plants, moss, lichen and fish.

8. pollution - noun.

The process of contaminating the environment; to make not pure; to make dirty, unsafe for human, fish, animal and plants.

9. lichen - noun.

Any of the various flowerless plants consisting of fungi, commonly growing in flat patches on the tundra, trees and rocks.

10. moss - noun.

Small green, brown and white plains that grow in the Arctic, Alpine forests and tundra.


Study and learn the meaning of the words, if you know what the words mean, you will understand what you are reading. After studying the words, read Background Information.

Review of the vocabulary words:

True or False - Indigenous means living or occurring naturally in an area.


What part of speech is the word, migrate? _____________________________
Write the definition of migrate. _____________________________


A predator is an animal that _______________________________

Habitat is the ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ in which an animal or plant lives or grows.

Generation is a _________________________________________


Archaeology is the study of ________________________________

What are the foods that sustain the tuttu?


What pollutant kills trees, plants and fish? ____________________


Pollution is the process of _________________________________


It is important that we protect the land, tundra, forests and water ways. Plants, fowl, mammals, fish and the waterways are a natural part of the ecosystem.


Name _________________________

Read Background Information, then fill or write in the answer.


1. The caribou are indigenous to the Arctic. They have followed ancient trails that have been used for thousands of years. In the northern part of Alaska, what two native groups depend on the caribou? __________________________________________



2. In a year, how many times does the caribou migrate?


3. True or False - Both the male and female grow a set of antlers every year.



4. What are the plants and flowerless plants that sustain the tuttu?





5. From time immemorial, the caribou have provided the people with and the skins are tanned for ___________________________________________



6. In the Northwest Arctic, what rivers and mountains must the caribou cross during their migration?





7. Why must we not allow the rivers, tundra and streams to become polluted?






8. What pollutant will kill plants, trees, lichen, moss and fish?




9. What will happen to the tuttu if their food sources die?





Discuss and review A-I.

Preview video, Wild Alaska. After previewing, show video to students.

After viewing video, discuss and talk about the fauna, as seen in the video.

Fauna is a collective term for the animals or animal life peculiar to a region, epoch, or environment.


Alaska Department of Fish & Game
Wildlife for the Future, AK. Dept. of Fish & Game

Unit on Caribou - Part II

Objective: Observe animal behavior, explain the response of the animal to the stimuli in its environment.

Students will learn the anatomy and the process of skinning, cleaning and cutting of the caribou. This study will take place out in the hunting grounds. For example the Onion Portage on the Kobuk River and other areas where they cross. Elders, hunters and teachers will teach students in the Native Ways of Knowing, incorporating their studies at their school.

Background Information: Every fall and spring season, the Western Arctic Caribou Herd migrates from the North Slope to the Kobuk River Valley, the Seward Peninsula and areas further south. From the Arctic Slope tundra to the southern boreal forests and the western coast, they travel together in the thousands. Cows and their calves and other young caribou are first to lead the migration. The large male bulls are last to reach their wintering grounds on the coast and boreal forests.

The tuttu is a very important food source for the Iñupiat. The skin of the tuttu is tanned and sewn into warm clothing needed for the cold winter months, which can last up to eight month. The caribou have provided the people of the land with meat and the skin was tanned. Warm clothing for the entire family was sewn during the winter.

Skins were used to build shelters, summer dwellings and as a soft mattress for sleeping.

The tuttu feeds on tundra moss, lichen, willow leaves, herbs and other plants. During the summer their food sources are abundant. They instinctively know that they must feed; In the spring, the sun does not set for about a month. With ample spring thaw water and sunlight, the plants, trees, grass, tundra plants and willows grow abundantly. The fauna of the Arctic is alive with abundant food. Bees, butterflies and other insects pollinate plants and flowers. Their food source is abundant. They feed all summer, growing layers of fat in their bodies. They use their fat as energy and to keep warm. Their winter coats have thickened and are hollow inside, this helps them conserve heat.

There are many parts of the tuttu that are utilized by the Iñupiat. The meat, bones, heart, liver, tongue, fat, head and feet are food resources. The muscle tendons from the legs and back are saved, dried and woven into thread for sewing. The skin and leggings are tanned for sewing warm winter clothing. The fat is used when making ice-cream the traditional way, berries, raisins, and sometimes grounded fish is added. This delicacy is a popular favorite.


Teacher: Review body parts, anatomy of the tuttu.

Anatomy of the tuttu:


Tunsrisaq - A digestive organ that is located near the main stomach. This is edible, it is cooked by boiling and eaten when cooled.

Itchaurat - Fat membrane that covers the stomach cavity; this fat is dried and Use for making traditional ice-cream.

Tifuk - The liver is a food source, that is rich in iron. The liver is sliced and then coated with flour and skillet fried. A breakfast favorite.

Uqaq - The tongue, a favorite food. Delicious in soups, most Iñupiat boil till cooked.

Aglibuq - The jaws are boiled or cooked in soups, the fat marrow is delicious.

Sublui - The nostril membrane is cleaned and boiled. Another food from the tuttu.

Taqtuuq - The two kidneys are also a food source.

Qaqisaq - The brain of the tuttu is a food delicacy.

Qaunnaq or tunnuq - Ground caribou fat is mixed with the meat for caribou hamburgers. It is one of the ingredients for making akutuq, an Iñupiats' version of the mousse. A traditional dessert made especially during the holidays or birthday celebrations. Akutuq is usually mixed with salmonberries, blueberries, blackberry, strawberries, raisins, stewed dried apples and sugar to taste. Some add deboned oven dried whitefish and seal oil. The akutuq is hand whipped until it is light and fluffy.

Isigaat - The hooves of the tuttu are dried and stored. A survival food saved for use in time of famine. The hooves are soaked in water, then cooked into a soup broth. The muscles inside of the hooves are eaten.

Puieiq - Caribou joint bones with marrow are crushed and boiled slowly. When the oil surfaces, it is scooped and put away in containers. When cooled, it is used as a spread on cracker, hotcakes, etc.

Niqaa - Niqaa is the meat; almost every part of the tuttu is edible. Early spring and late fall are ideal times to wash, cut, marinate the niqaa and hang to dry. Some alder smoke their drying meat. The ribs, tongue and brisket are a favorite niqipiaq. They are some of the many native foods.

Sakaik - The brisket bones are cut for soups and meat dishes. It is also dried, once the drying process is done, it is eaten with seal oil.

Kuutchiik - The pelvic bone with meat are cut for roasts and soups.

Mumiq - Leg bone with meat, marrow and fat.

Niqivik - The meat and bone from the hindquarter.

Kiasrik - The shoulder blade bone with meat are cut for roasts or soups.

Qufisieiq - Neck bones are individually separated for cooking in soups and stews. The neck can also be roasted.

Tullimaat - The ribs are cut for soups or roasted in the oven. In the spring, they are hung to dry as paniqtuq.

Nibukkaq - This process will involve a fresh caribou where its stomach contents of moss, leaves, lichen and other green plants and herbs are used in "cooking" the fresh liver. The liver is cut in bite size pieces, which are put inside of the stomach contents. The liver is "cooked", a delicious delicacy rich in iron and Vitamin C.

Uumman - The heart is delicious in soups or sliced, floured and pan fried. Try frying the pieces in oil until cooked, add water and flour and stir until the broth begins to thicken. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Albabusriq - A caribou's heart is covered with a membrane sac. This sac is dried and used as a bag for ivalu (sinew), sewing tools, etc.

Name __________________________

After studying and discussing the anatomy, fill in or answer the following:

1. List edible parts of the tuttu that the Iñupiat use as a food source.

2. Qaunnaq or caribou fat is used when making _____________________, a delicious

3. Name the sac that covers the tuttu's heart. This sac is dried and used as a bag.

4. What part of the tuttu is considered a survival food?_________________________

5. List the anatomy; the internal organs. ___________________________________


6. What is rich in iron and is a breakfast favorite?


7. Why is it important to save the caribou skins?



8. Name the delicacy in which pieces of fresh liver is put in the hot contents of the stomach. This "cooks" naturally creating a delicious dish.


9. Why is it important to have respect for animals, nature and environment?





10. List the important items to take for hunting and camping:


A daily log or journal is required of the students.



General information about the caribou:


The meat, tendons, bone, antlers, feet and the skin are utilized by the Iñupiat.


Pafniq - a full grown male caribou.
Nubbalik - female with calf.
Nubbaq - calf.
Nukatabaaluk - almost a full grown adult.
Kulavak - mature female

The male and female caribou, both sport antlers for dominance and survival.

The Western Arctic Caribou Herd ranges from the Arctic Ocean to the Yukon River and from Northwest Arctic Coast to the trans-Alaska Pipeline.

During the winters of 1989-90 and 1992-93, thousands of caribou died in portions of Western Arctic Caribou Range and on the North Slope. What were the causes?

Cows and calves usually take the lead in the migration. When out hunting, it is important to let the lead caribou cross the river. When the first has successfully crossed the river, others will follow.

About thirty-nine parts of the caribou are prepared for eating. Many of the parts are delicacies. Most of the caribou is food and it' s skin is tanned and sewn into warm winter clothing.

Reindeer lichen is one of the tuttu' s food; it is also a survival food for people.



Begin planning for the caribou hunting trip:

Teachers, students, Guides and Elders will meet and begin planning for the hunting trip. Agenda rules and game regulations; hunting license, what to bring . . what not to bring; firearm safety; being safe; parent permission forms/district policy; First Aid...

Importantly the Elders will teach the students of Respecting all life forms and to keep the environment clean.

Equipment that is usually taken by hunters:


high-powered rifle

sharpening file or stone



hunting knife




warm clothing


rain coat

gasoline and blazo




sleeping bags


Field Trip:


Elders will teach on the Iñupiaq Values of Sharing, Respect for Nature, Knowledge of Language, Hunter Skills, etc.

The caribou hunt will coincide with the fall migration. Transportation by boat to the hunting site, e.g. Hunt River, Onion Portage. This will be a one week hunting trip. Students will learn the tuttu' s anatomy and learn the process of skinning, cutting and separating the parts. The skins will be cleaned, dried and saved for future tanning and sewing.

The students will record daily log or journals of their activities during the hunting trip. They will take part in all of the subsisting-hunting activities and daily chores.




Take a camcorder for purpose of documentation. When the students return to the classroom, they will write a report on their hunting trip. Plan a feast for the Elders, parents and the community, there are many parts of the caribou where food delicacies are prepared. For example, make akutuq, a delicious mousse flavored with berries.

 Unit on Caribou, Part Ill - Natural Products made from the Tuttu

Background Information: Without the tuttu and other indigenous as well as migratory animals, life for the Iñupiat would have been more difficult. The tuttu provides meat for sustenance and it's skin is tanned and sewn for warm winter clothing. The muscle tissue from back is removed and dried. It is then twisted into thread. The needle is made from the thin bone of the fore leg or taliq. An ulu is used when cutting out the pattern on the skin. A sharp ulu will make the cutting easier.

With winter being the longest cold season, warm clothing is necessary for survival. Hard and soft bottom kammak are sewn from the winter skin, which has thick fur. Hard bottom kammak are made from the bearded seal skin which has been crimped. Waterproof kammak are oiled with fat and oil, making them waterproof. These boots are used during the spring and summer.

Parkas for the young are sewn from the fawn skin, which is soft and pliable and the fur makes a warm parka. Mittens, socks, pants and others are sewn from the tanned winter skin of the tuttu.

One of the traditional ropes of the Iñupiat is made from the skin of the tuttu and the seal. The skin is soaked in water until the hair is removed easily. While the skin is still wet, it is cut into one long strip. It is then stretched and tied from post to post and dried. These strips could be used for making snow shoes or for tying basket sled. There are many other uses.

A tent of six caribou skins is used for a survival shelter. The floor is covered with spruce boughs and skins of the tuttu. The skin is also an excellent mattress.

Caribou are the only members of the reindeer family, where both the male and female grow antlers. The antlers can be used as sinkers for a gill or seine net. Each family had a mark on the sinkers, Grandfather Frank Jackson's mark is that of the footprint of the sandhill crane, the three marks. If a sinker was found they would know who it belong to and would return it to the owner.

The sharpest points of the antlers are used as a piercing tool for dry white fish. Dry fish are pierced for the purpose of making a string of fish. The antler and bones are utilized for creating tools, spear heads, arrow heads and other implements. A useful fish scaler is made from the shoulder blade. This tool is called a kavisiiqsie. Many parts of the tuttu are used in the arts, crafts and sewing clothing. Upper Kobuk and the Nunamiut gifted artists create face masks, molding the skin into a carved wood shaped like a face of a person. A miniature model of a sled is created using the lower jaw bones, wood, baleen and twine or traditional rawhide.

Generations ago, the Iñupiat endured starvation. The quest to find food was difficult, especially during the winter. The men and their pack dogs would qaqi or travel north towards Noatak and the North Slope, to find caribou. The women and the young remained home, fishing and berry-picking and other food gathering kept them busy most of the day and night. Every part of the tuttu that is edible or useful in other ways were saved. The hooves are saved for survival food. They are dried, once dried they will remain as they are. When food is scarce, they can be soaked in water until they soften, it was cooked into a soup broth. The cooked muscle tendons on the hooves are eaten also.

To respect the animals and the environment was law, traditional law. Indigenous people passed from generation to generation, the practice of having respect for the animals and the environment. They took only what was needed, subsisting from season to season. They shared with other people in the community. When a family did not have a hunter or provider, they were given foods, wood, and skins. Sharing brought a sense of contentedness to the community. People took care of each other, even when there times of hardship.


1. Indigenous - adj. Living or occurring naturally in an area; native.

2. ulu - noun. Sharp bladed tool used for cutting fish, meat. An ulu has many uses, one is cutting patterns on skins for sewing.

3. sustenance - noun. That which supports life, as food or provisions; subsistence; the act of sustaining; the state of being supported or maintained.

4. subsistence - noun. Existence; means of support; the state of maintaining one's existence.

5. kammak - noun. Foot ware sewn from the breaded seal skin, caribou and other fur animals indigenous to the area

6. taliq - noun. Referring to the caribou's fore leg, skin including the feet. These are tanned and patterned into kammak.

7. saatqun - noun. A sinker for gill and seining nets created from the tuttu's antler.

8. kavisiiqsie - noun. Fish scaler made from the shoulder blade bone of the tuttu.

9. ivalu - noun. Thread for sewing is made from the sinew or muscle tissue taken from the back of the tuttu.



After reading Background Information, fill in or answer the question:

1. The tuttu provides the Iñupiat with ___ ___ ___ ___ for sustenance, which means


2. For sewing, what two products are made directly from the tuttu?


3. What warm winter clothing are made from the tuttu?


4. What is the process of making traditional rope?


5. What products can be made from the antlers?


6. A kaviqsiiqsie is used as a __ __ __ __ scaler.


7. Why are the caribou's hooves considered a survival food?

8. True of False? Traditional law is to respect the animals and the environment.

9. Iñupiat are indigenous people; they live __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ in an area.

10. What provides sustenance for the Iñupiat people?


11. Write your definition of subsistence.


Have students review vocabulary words, then read Background Information. After they have read the information, assign students to answer or fill #'s 1-12. When they are done, review and discuss the worksheet.

Class Projects:

The sewing class instructor, teachers and students will tan the body skin and leggings, for the purpose of sewing warm winter clothing.

Project: Tanning process

First step; moistening the skins. There are different ways of moistening; one method is to use water and soap or; watered floured paste or by applying lotion to the dry skin.

After adding moisture, fold the skins and let the moistening process work. After a day, work the skin with your hands. For more moisture repeat the first step.

When working the skin, use a skin scraper to take the skin tissue off. Repeat working the skin with your hands, scraping excess skin tissue.

The tanning process is complete when the caribou skin is soft and white. It will take a few days to tan the skin.

Tools needed: itchuun or skin scraper, soapy water or lotion.

Project: Bleached caribou skin for sifiq, tie strings for kammak. (caribou leather)

For this project use the skin of the tuttu that was harvested in the fall.

Cut leggings from the skin. Completely immerse the skin in a container of water.

After immersing the skin, maybe up to a week, check to see if the hair is easy to remove.

When all the hair is removed, stretch out the skin on the snow, until it freezes.

Hang the skin and let hang until it turns tan or white color.


Project: Caribou leather

Use same process for bleaching the caribou skin. When the hair is removed, take excess water off the skin. The skin can be dried for bleaching. There are many projects to create.

Caribou leather rope - while the skin is wet, cut one long strip, using a knife. After cutting, stretch out the strip from one post to another, for drying.


Projects: Mittens, kammak, thermos bottle wrap, socks, parka...

It would not be difficult to find someone who have patterns that they use. Request to use patterns, for sewing projects.

Unit on Caribou, Part IV - Food Chains, Acid Rain and Caribou


Herbivore - noun

- animal that subsists on plants.

Ecosystem - noun

- all the non-living and living things and their interactions in a specific area.

Photosynthesis - noun

- the process by which green plants manufacture a simple sugar from carbon dioxide and water in the presence of light and chlorophyll, with oxygen produced as a byproduct.

Chlorophyll - noun

- a group of pigments that produce the green hue of plants, essential to photosynthesis.

Vegetative - noun

- growing or developing as or like plants; pertaining to vegetation.


Background Information:


A food chain is a group of living things that form a chain in which the first living is eaten by the second, the second is eaten by the third, and so on. For example, willow leaves, aquatic plants, moose to man would form a simple food chain.

Plants are the main producers in the Arctic Boreal forests and the tundra ecosystem. Aquatic plants and algae are the main producers in the lakes and the river ecosystems. An ecosystem is the non-living surroundings and all living organisms interacting with each other.

Plants and algae are producers, they grow at an enormous rate, due to nutrients and minerals in the air and soil. The twenty-four hours of sunlight and moisture feeds the plants, willows and trees. The plants, berries tundra moss and lichen are important food sources for man and animal. The plants including tundra moss and lichen are food of the tuttu. It is an herbivore because it feeds on plants. in completing the pyramid, the Iñupiat are at the top. The Iñupiat, the caribou and the environment have coexisted from time immemorial.

Add rain has a high concentration of nitric and sulfuric acids from pollution or from natural sources. Acid rain has serious consequences for lichen and moss, which are the main foods of the tuttu. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide, whether dissolved in water or in particle form, interfere with the functioning of the chlorophyll molecules in algae, thus preventing photosynthesis. The algae is unable to make their own food. Add rain acidifies the subtrates, soil, rocks and wood on which lichen grow. Lichen are unable to grow on acidic surfaces; it can also prevent lichen growth and establishment. This form of pollution also kills plants and trees.

Moss and lichen are the caribou's main winter food. This rain could cause declines in populations of caribou. Lichens obtain water and minerals from rain and snowmelt water. They reproduce vegetatively, in other words, lichen grow and develops or like plants. Vegetative reproduction does not occur on acidic surfaces or soils.

Lichens and moss are important winter food source for the tuttu. Acid rain in the arctic tundra will affect the caribou and reindeer. If their winter food dies, so will the caribou. The tuttu is an important food source and clothing for the northern people.

The Facts:

Symbiosis is the state of two dissimilar organisms living in close relationship, each benefiting from such an association as algae and fungi in lichens. These include the alga, which photosynthesizes food and a fungus, which provides a protective shell and helps absorb water and minerals from the environment. Lichens grow on the soil rocks and wood.

Chlorophyll molecules are found in leaves of plants, deciduous trees and in algae cells. These molecules capture the sunlight energy used in photosynthesis.

The burning of fossil fuels such as gas, oil, coal and wood releases a variety of chemicals into the air, this includes other pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide.

Teacher: In the classroom, review and study the vocabulary words with students. Read Background Information, then have students fill in or answer the questions 1-7.

Read and discuss questions or problems, when students have completed them.



1. What is a food chain?



2. An ecosystem is the _______________ ______________ and all living organisms ___________________________________________________ with each other.

3. Plants, algae, moss need nutrients and minerals from the air and soil.
True or False ______________


4. What are the winter foods of the caribou?

5. How do lichens obtain their water?




6. Lichens reproduce ______________________________________, in other words they___________________________________________________.

7. What two pollutants in acid rain will kill moss and lichen?________________________


Teacher: Review and check assignment 1-7.

Class project: Teachers and their students will conduct acid rain tests, water quality and other environmental test for pollution. These findings will be recorded and reported to scientists, UAF. There have been reports of sick caribou or moose, fish with lumps or growths, that indicates our waters and land are being polluted. Find out where these sources of pollution are coming from. A report in the July, 1998 issue of the Arctic Sounder; salmon returning to Alaska to their spawning waters are returning with pollutants in their bodies.

Science Experiments:

Lichen and Add Rain - students make "acid rain" and observe its effects on plants and lichens. From Alaska' s Tundra & Wildlife-Alaska Wildlife Curriculum Teachers Guide, Student Activity, page 133. Alaska Department of Fish and Game, 1995.

From Keith Mather Library of the Geophysical Institute, UAF. Bibliographies made available by Patrick Healy, GI Library Assistant. Six pages of ideas for experiments to determine how healthy the environment is. Add rain tests and other science experiments.

Facts: The burning of fossil fuels at Prudhoe Bay oilfields have been burning for over twenty-five years. The Red Dog Mine in NW Alaska has been in operation for twenty plus years. What are the impacts on the environment?

Why are the fish, caribou, moose and some other animals showing signs of sickness? There are lumps, lesions and brownish mass growing on the out parts of the fish. In Kiana, three sheefish that were caught had puss, a sign of sickness in the fish. Many caribou and some animals are skinny, those especially that have been radio collared. It seems that many types of animals and fish, including those that are migratory are showing signs of sickness. Is it due to the pollution of the environment? Some of the pollution comes from places far away. This pollution is carried by the winds, clouds and precipitation, in the form of rain or snow.

Symposium - Theme: Subsistence and the Protection of the Tundra Ecosystem

A symposium of teachers, students, Elders, scientists, and educators will address the Subsistence Issue with an emphasis on the Iñupiaq Values - Sharing; Respect; Respect for all living things; Respect for Nature. Why must we have respect for the land?

With guidance form teachers, students will conduct experiments of the environment, these findings will be reported to the participants in the symposium. Their questions and concerns about the tundra ecosystem will be a point of discussion.

Students will receive important information on careers in the science, math and the medical field.

Scientists-in-Residents Program, UAF - Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative; biologists; professors will provide information on careers in the science field.

To guide, help teachers and students finds solutions to why the fish and animals in the Arctic are not healthy.

Some questions that the students might have for the Elders, regarding the Iñupiaq


1. Respect for Nature. What does that mean for the Iñupiat?

2. Define subsistence.

3. Could you give examples of Sharing, of how families with no provider or hunter were given food and skins for clothing.

4. Write and document how the Subsistence for Indigenous people should be. Is it Grandfather Rights or the Indigenous right to subsist from land and waters.

5. How important is it that we share and have respect for the land and waterways?


Some questions students might have for the scientists, professors, biologists:

What other forms of pollutants other than acid rain can have an affect on the environment?

What other environmental tests are available? Tests or experiments to help safeguard the environment?

What are other forms of pollution that can affect the environment?

There is a report of salmon returning to their spawning waters, with pollutants on their bodies. Can these forms of pollution be identified?

What careers are there in the sciences; biology, medical, scientist, engineering, etc.

How much education is needed to become a medical doctor? An Village Health Aide? And scientists who teach at colleges or to become an astronaut for NASA?

Could you tell what lab technicians do in their jobs? Researcher?

There are many professions in the scientific and the medical field. Natural medicines from the Arctic are widely used by the people. There are tribal doctors in the region. They use traditional medicines and work with doctors in the medical field. This public health service is a part of Maniilaq Association. The late Della Keats, a master in the knowledge and use of traditional medicine, an Iñupiat with healing hands. This program need to teach and train young people the methods of healing and wellness.




To test and analyze the symptoms of sickness found in fish and animals.

To test water quality from rivers, lakes, streams near residential areas and industrial areas - Red Dog Mine - Prudhoe Bay Oilfields in North Slope.

Teachers, students, what is your follow-up after the symposium?

The Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC) have resolutions on the protection of the Arctic Tundra Ecosystem. ICC is recognized by the United Nations.

Additional information on the tuttu:

From the Alaska Native Knowledge Network/Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative -Caribou - Web links, compiled by Jennifer McCarty, Student Assistant.


Unit One -

Alaska Department of Fish & Game
New Websters Dictionary

Unit Two -

Alaska Department of Fish & Game
The Discovery Channel - A video documentary on NW Alaska

Unit Three -

New Websters Dictionary

Unit Four -

Earth Science, Addison-Wesley, 1989
New Websters Dictionary

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 Dog Salmon



Go to University of AlaskaThe University of Alaska Fairbanks is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity employer, educational institution, and provider is a part of the University of Alaska system. Learn more about UA's notice of nondiscrimination.


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 18, 2006