Native Pathways to Education

Program or activity contact person
Ray Barnhardt, ANKN/AKRSI, University of Alaska Fairbanks, P.O. Box 756730, Fairbanks, AK 99775-6730 Tel: (907) 474-1902 E-mail Address: ffrjb@uaf.edu

Location
The Alaska Native Knowledge Network reaches schools throughout Alaska.

Summary
This initiative was developed to systematically document the indigenous knowledge systems of Alaska Native people and develop pedagogical practices and school curricula that appropriately incorporate indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing into the formal education system. The initiative is being implemented through many activities and programs both in local regions and statewide. For example, some regions are developing village science applications; others are developing multimedia cultural atlases, and several regions hold academies for elders. Statewide activities include the Alaska Standards for Culturally Responsive Schools, cultural frameworks for curriculum, Native educator associations, and other efforts.

What population is served by this program or activity?
The primary audience for the initiative consists of the schools serving Native communities in rural Alaska, but with the Native population of Alaska approaching 20%, all schools in rural and urban communities are impacted by the curriculum and professional development work of the Alaska Native Knowledge Network (ANKN) and Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative (AKRSI).

When did this program or activity begin?
The Alaska Native Knowledge Network was established in 1995 as one of the first initiatives to emerge from the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative under funding from the National Science Foundation program on systemic reform of schools.

How often and for how long does the program or activity take place?
The work of the Alaska Native Knowledge Network is on-going at both the university and school levels, ranging from curriculum development to cultural camps to Academies of Elders

What organizations are involved in the program?
The primary sponsors of the Alaska Native Knowledge Network are the Alaska Federation of Natives and the University of Alaska, though over 70 other organizations (including school districts) are involved in various aspects of the work.


ALASKA RURAL SYSTEMIC INITIATIVE
ALASKA NATIVE KNOWLEDGE NETWORK
Alaska Federation of Natives - University of Alaska
National Science Foundation - Annenberg Rural Challenge

Native Pathways to Education

The underlying purpose of the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative has been to implement a set of initiatives to systematically document the indigenous knowledge systems of Alaska Native people and develop pedagogical practices and school curricula that appropriately incorporate indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing into the formal education system. The central systemic reform focus of the AKRSI reform strategy is the fostering of connectivity and complementarity between two functionally interdependent but historically disconnected and alienated complex systems - the indigenous knowledge systems rooted in the Native cultures that inhabit rural Alaska, and the formal education systems that have been imported to serve the educational needs of rural Native communities. Within each of these evolving systems is a rich body of complementary scientific and mathematical knowledge and skills that, if properly explicated and leveraged, can serve to strengthen the quality of educational experiences and improve the academic performance of students throughout rural Alaska. The following initiatives constitute the make-up of the AKRSI educational reform strategy, including the area of concentration for each cultural region:

The initiatives outlined above are being implemented on a region-by-region basis, building on the foundation that was laid during Phase I to integrate the reform process into the everyday workings of the schools and districts to a sustainable level by the end of Phase II. In addition to the regional initiatives, an array of statewide initiatives are also being implemented to support the activities at the local and regional levels. Following is a summary of the statewide initiatives as they relate to the implementation of the regional initiatives during Phase II.

AKRSI Yearly Cycle of Activities by Cultural Region
Phase II: 2000-2005
Regional
Initiative/Year
2000-01
2001-02
2002-03
2003-04
2004-05
Initiative Emphasis
Native Ways of Knowing/
Teaching
Yup'ik
Region
Inupiaq
Region
Atha-
bascan
Region
Aleut/
Alutiq
Region
South-
east
Region
Parent Involvement
Culturally Aligned Curriculum
Southeast
Region
Yup'ik
Region
Inupiaq
Region
Atha-
bascan
Region
Aleut/
Alutiq
Region
Cultural Standards
Indigenous Science Knowledge
Aleut/
Alutiq
Region
South-
east
Region
Yup'ik
Region
Inupiaq
Region
Atha-
bascan
Region
Cultural Atlas
Elders and Cultural Camps
Atha-
bascan
Region
Aleut/
Alutiq
Region
South-
east
Region
Yup'ik
Region
Inupiaq
Region
Academy of Elders
Village Science Applications/
Careers
Inupiaq
Region
Atha-
bascan
Region
Aleut/
Alutiq
Region
South-
east
Region
Yup'ik
Region
ANSES Camps/Fair

Documentation of Traditional Knowledge Systems in Alaska
The reform strategy around which the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative has been constructed is to focus on the integration of indigenous knowledge into the curricula and pedagogy of rural schools as a stepping stone toward a more inclusive curricula in accordance with current standards. A major component of the AKRSI therefore, is the identification of existing cultural resources that can provide a documentary base on which to build a comprehensive framework for the integration of traditional knowledge in educational programs. These resources include oral histories, video tapes, biographies, Elder's conference reports, traditional place names and maps, language materials, curriculum resources, or any other book, tape, document or persons that can provide insights into the traditional knowledge and skills utilized by Native people in their respective cultural regions. Anyone who knows of such resources and is willing to share that information is encouraged to contact any of the AKRSI staff listed in this brochure.

Alaska Native Knowledge Network
The resources that are assembled in each region through the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative are being entered into a curriculum resource collection maintained through the Alaska Native Knowledge Network, housed in Fairbanks. The listing of resources are available on the World Wide Web at the following address: http://www.ankn.uaf.edu. Any inquiries or submissions regarding the ANKN curriculum resources should contact Sean Topkok at (907) 474-5897, or e-mail to fncst@aurora.alaska.edu. A regular ANKN Newsletter, "Sharing Our Pathways," is being distributed throughout the state to keep everyone up-to-date on the developments associated with the AKRSI. Anyone who wishes to submit items related to indigenous knowledge systems for consideration in the newsletter should contact Dixie Dayo at (907) 474-5086, or e-mail to fndmd1@uaf.edu.

Program Directors
For further information regarding the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiatives outlined above, contact any one of the following Program Directors:

Frank Hill
Alaska Federation of Natives
1577 C St.
Suite 201
Anchorage, AK 99501
fydl@uaf.edu
(907) 274-3611
(907) 276-7989
Oscar Kawagley
X-CED/Interior Campus
Harper Building, UAF
Fairbanks, AK 99775
rfok@uaf.edu
(907) 474-1902
(907) 474-1957
Ray Barnhardt
Center for Cross-Cult. Studies
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Fairbanks, AK 99775
ffrjb@uaf.edu
(907) 474-1902
(907) 474-1957

AKRSI-Sponsored Initiatives

S.P.I.R.A.L. Curriculum Framework - The ANKN curriculum clearinghouse is identifying and cataloging curriculum resources applicable to teaching activities revolving around 12 broad cultural themes organized on a chart that provides a "Spiral Pathway for Integrating Rural Alaska Learning." The themes that make up the S.P.I.R.A.L. framework are family, language/communication, cultural expression, tribe/community, health/wellness, living in place, outdoor survival, subsistence, ANCSA, applied technology, energy/ecology, and exploring horizons. The curriculum resources associated with each of these themes can be accessed through the ANKN website at http://www.uaf.edu/ankn.

Cultural Documentation/Atlas - Students in rural schools are interviewing Elders in their communities and researching available documents related to the indigenous knowledge systems, and then assembling the information they have gathered into a multimedia format for publication as a "Cultural Atlas" on CD-ROM and the Internet. Documentation has focused on themes such as weather prediction, edible and medicinal plants, geographic place names, flora and fauna, moon and tides, fisheries, subsistence practices, outdoor survival and the aurora.

Native Educator Associations - Associations of Native educators have been formed in each cultural region to provide an avenue for sustaining the initiatives that are being implemented in the schools by the AKRSI. The regional associations sponsor curriculum development work, organize Academies of Elders and host regional and statewide conferences as vehicles for disseminating the information that is accumulated.

Native Ways of Knowing - Each cultural region is engaged in an effort to distill core teaching/learning processes from the traditional forms of cultural transmission and to develop pedagogical practices in the schools that incorporate these processes (e.g., learning by doing/experiential learning, guided practice, detailed observation, intuitive analysis, cooperative/group learning, listening skills).

Academies of Elders - Native educators are convening with Native Elders around a science/math theme and a deliberative process through which the Elders share their traditional knowledge and the Native educators seek ways to apply that knowledge to teaching various components of the standards-based curriculum. The teachers then field test the curriculum ideas they have developed, bring that experience back to the Elders for verification, and then prepare a final set of curriculum units that are pulled together and shared with other educators.

Cultural Standards - A set of "Alaska Standards for Culturally Responsive Schools" have been developed for students, teachers, curriculum, schools and communities that provide explicit guidelines for ways to integrate the local culture and environment into the formal education process so that students are able to achieve cultural well-being as a result of their schooling experience.

Village Science Curriculum Applications - Three volumes of village oriented science curriculum resources are being developed in collaboration with rural teachers for use in schools throughout Alaska. They will serve as a supplement to existing curriculum materials to provide teachers with ideas on how to relate the teaching of basic science and math concepts to the surrounding environment.

ANSES Chapters/Native Science Fairs - K-12 chapters of the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Society are being formed in rural districts serving each cultural region. These chapters are participating in ANSES Science Camps and are sponsoring Native Science Fairs in which the projects are judged for their science content by experienced science teachers and for their cultural content by Native Elders. The winners of the regional fairs attend the national ANSES Science Fair in the Spring.

Alaska Native Science Education Coalition - The ANSEC is made up of representatives from over 20 agencies, professional organizations and other programs that have an interest and role in science and math education in rural Alaska schools. The Coalition is seeking to bring its vast array of curriculum and professional development resources into focus around the implementation of standards/ culturally-based science curriculum, including the incorporation of rural/cultural considerations in the Coalition members own materials and practices (e.g., Alaska Science Consortium workshops, Project Wild curriculum materials, National Park Service interpretive programs).

Math/Science Unit-building Workshops - Under the sponsorship of the ANSEC, small regional teams of science teachers, Native teachers and Elders (each of whom learn from the others) are assembled for two days of concentrated work aimed at building science and math curriculum units around a locally identified theme that can serve as a focus for meeting state content standards starting from a knowledge base grounded in the local environment (e.g., weather, food preservation, moon/tides, birch trees, berries, measuring systems). The units are then field tested by the participating teachers, refined and made available to teachers throughout the state as models for an on-going process of standards based and culturally grounded curriculum development (a key "attractor" for systemic integration).


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