\”Place-based Education\” Lecture – Cecilia Martz (Tacuk) 2

Ilakullutat at the first paragraph. That word has a lot of parts to it, but one small part of it is respect for Elders. We show our respect to Elders by giving them already prepared or already cooked food, cleaning their house, do chores for them, because in our culture we believe that real Elders\’ minds are very strong. So if you help many Elders their strong minds will help you live a successful life.

Also in the word is that we respect Nature. We are supposed to know our environment, we are supposed to know all the animals in our area. One way of learning about the birds, we have a story that we learn when we are little, and it takes about five days to tell. It\’s about a small bird losing its mate, and the bird is trying to find another mate. And all the birds come to her one by one, from the biggest to the smallest, and the hero bird is the smallest. And we learn all the birds, their sounds, their colors, their names. The reason why it\’s so long is because we have lots of birds in our area.

So those are just a few little examples of what\’s in there, what\’s involved in there. Ray was showing the iceberg. That\’s just the bottom, just a part of it. When we are using this in our Yaaveskaniryaraq Program, when we read, the Elders that are involved in our program, when they hear it, they have tears in their eyes.

The School Districts also use this as the foundation when they are developing their curriculum. And they also have it posted everywhere, and in the classrooms. You can hear little first graders, kindergarteners, reciting this every morning.

The people who go through this program are community people. They are not being taught by outsiders but by our own Elders in the communities. And those who are taking this program, start teaching their children, start talking to their children, start taking their children to do subsistence activities. They become very proud of who they are. And the Elders that are involved in this program are very very happy, they are very willing to share their knowledge with younger, with young married people, very happy that they have been asked to share, and to teach what they know. Also, when they are teaching, they use very high language that people have forgotten, or don\’t know.

Just in the last few years the Elders that have been involved in the Yaaveskaniryaraq Program, half of them have already died. So it\’s very very important. When they die they take away with them a vast amount of knowledge that people should know, or have to know, or should learn. Here in Japan, we were in the Tochikubo Community, and we had older people sharing their knowledge with us, and we also had school children with us. And one of the comments by the school children is, \”I have a lot to learn.\”

And there\’s more that I could add but since we\’re short of time I\’ll stop here. Treasure your Elders, treasure your environment, so that you can treasure yourselves.

“Place-based Education\” Lecture Cecilia Martz (Tacuk)1

Cecilia Martz (Tacuk)
Cup’ik Educator
Yaaveskaniryaraq Project, l999-Present

Educational View Point of Cu\’pik

Before I start my presentation I\’d like to show what I\’m wearing. This is a traditional upper outer wear that we use in Alaska. You\’ll see this being worn by women in the different villages in the rural areas. It\’s called a qaspeq. And we also wear other clothing which are specific to Alaska Natives. And my husband is also wearing a qasupeq.

My name is Cecilia. That was a name given to me by an outside person. My real name is Tacuk, from my own people. And I didn\’t know that I was Cecilia until I went to school. Like you, the indigenous peoples of Alaska, we\’re losing our culture, we are losing our language. Young adults and their children who are moving away from the villages, they are adopting Western culture, and even people in our villages, they are all adopting Western culture.

Elders that you saw in Ray\’s presentation with the vast knowledge, with the deep culture, with their deep cultural knowledge, are dying, and the ones that are alive, are being used as part of everyday educational processes in the community as we as the school, as much as they should be.

They are getting more involved in the educational process. In my home village of Chevak, in the Cup\’ik area, the State of Alaska School District hires two Elders to be in the school every single day. So some of the schools are using the Elders in their schools.

The other thing that\’s happening to us in Alaska is that many of us are loosing our sense of community. A group of us realized and became alarmed at what was happening to our people, losing our culture and language. So we had many meetings with Elders for about 2 or 3 years. And we started the Yaaveskaniryaraq Program. The word Yaaveskaniryaraq has many meanings but I\’ll give you two of them. It\’s a very very deep Yup\’ik/Cu\’pik word. One meaning is moving from one level to a higher level. Another meaning is relearning and living your culture because that\’s who you are. The posters you picked up when you came in say the same thing. We use this as the foundation for our curriculum in the Yaaveskaniryaraq Program. This was developed by those who have teaching degrees already, and were working toward their Master\’s Degrees. They developed this with the help of Elders. We tried to translate it into English but the English language wasn\’t adequate enough to really bring out what we meant.

It usually takes about 3 hours to explain the whole thing, but it takes a whole lifetime to live it. Just that word qanruyutet, if we wrote it down into books, it would fill a whole library. It covers emotional, spiritual, physical, mental, all those things, and it covers all of the intangible as well as the tangible. As an example, that paragraph includes respect for nature. We feel that everything in this world has an awareness, a spirit. A rock, a baby, a seal, a plant, sky, water, wind, everything has an awareness and spirit.

Just a very specific example: when we are walking out on the tundra, when we\’re walking on the beach, when we are walking anywhere in the wilderness, if we come across a log that is imbedded into the ground, and since we view it as having an awareness, we know that that log is tired, wet and uncomfortable. We pick it up and turn it over. And while we are turning it over, we think about something positive, for instance, for another person, something positive to happen to that person, or if we have sicknesses we think about the sicknesses while we are turning the log over. And also that log when it gets turned over will get dry and might help somebody for survival.

Another example is a seal. When we catch a seal, we don\’t waste any part of it. We use everything of the seal. We use the skin for things like clothing, for bags, for storage. And the meat, we use for our sustenance, for our food. And the bones, we never throw them in the trash. We\’re supposed to bring that to a small lake or a pond and put the bones back into nature.

“Place-based Education\” Lecture – Ray Barnhadt 3

Cultural Standards for Students:

Culturally knowledgeable students are well grounded in the cultural heritage and traditions of their community. This is one of the 27 Cultural Standards that are now a required component of all educational programs in Alaska:

Culturally knowledgeable students are well grounded in the cultural heritage and traditions of their community.

For each Cultural Standard, there are a half-dozen examples of what that standard looks like in practice. Copies of these documents are available at the web site address that I will give you at the end of the presentation.

In addition to the Cultural Standards themselves, Native people have also developed a series of guidelines to help implement the standards in various elements of the educational system, including outlining what teachers need to know and be able to do to successfully implement the standards in their schools. If anyone is interested in more information on how these ideas impact teacher preparation, you can speak with my wife, Carol, who is the head of the Elementary Teacher Education Program in Fairbanks and is here with us this evening.

Another area of consideration was a set of guidelines on the role of traditional parenting and child-rearing practices as they might be incorporated in school and community practices.

Of particular concern was the need to acquaint teachers, most of whom come from outside the communities in which they teach, with local practices regarding the role of Elders and the protocols associated with the knowledge they contribute to the educational process. This is one of the Elders who shared much about her own up-bringing and helped find ways to bring that local knowledge into the schools in culturally appropriate ways. You will be hearing more about Louise when Cecilia describes the educational philosophy that is embedded in the next slide.

As you will see when you hear from Cecilia, the Yup\’ik and Cup\’ik people of Southwest Alaska are quite capable of defining their own deeply rooted expectations when it comes to the education of their children.

As I indicated earlier, there are many areas in which there is local knowledge in every community that can serve as a starting point for teaching the subject matter that we draw upon for the school curriculum. Left are just a few examples of the place- and culture-based educational resources we have developed to illustrate how what students experience in school can be built upon the life they lead out of school.

For example, there is very little that we teach in the science curriculum that can\’t be demonstrated through examples drawn from the local community, including remote villages in rural Alaska.

Sled runners can be used to illustrate friction. Local weather observations can be compared with satellite images to study meteorology. The local language can be used to identify the many variations of snow and ice conditions to illustrate states of matter, sublimation, energy transfer, thermodynamics, etc.

Math problems can be constructed around local themes.

Local knowledge about constellations, celestial navigation, tidal patterns, seasonal change indicators, etc. are abundant in every community and can bring learning alive in ways that are seldom achieved in the classroom setting alone.

Knowledge about local edible and medicinal plants and traditional healing practices continue to be a matter of survival in many Native communities, to the point where ethno-botany has become a field of study in its own right.

To help teachers see the possibilities and benefits of tapping into the knowledge base in the surrounding community and environment, we have developed a \”Handbook for Culturally Responsive Science Curriculum\”.
The curriculum materials and cultural resources that are developed by teachers have been assembled in a web-based curriculum clearinghouse to make them available to teachers anywhere in Alaska and beyond.

As these curriculum resources have accumulated over the past ten years, we have been able to organize them around a series of themes that provide a culturally-based framework that is now being put to use to serve as a full grade 7-12 curriculum in a demonstration school in Fairbanks.

The Effie Kokrine Charter School is organized on a year-round seasonal calendar and all courses are offered on an intensive three-week block schedule, to allow time for students to spend extended periods of time out in the community and surrounding environment.

In summary, the river banks and ocean shores of Alaska are increasingly providing the most promising learning environment for achieving the goals of both academic and cultural education.

Through a place- and culturally-based pedagogy, students are being prepared to make a life for themselves in a global world while at the same time learning the skills to serve as knowledgeable stewards of their own communities and the environment on which their livelihood depends.

And teachers are learning to not just teach about culture as another subject in the school curriculum, but to teach through the local culture as a doorway unto the world.

You can find much more information about the issues I\’ve discussed here today on the Alaska Native Knowledge Network web site at www.ankn.uaf.edu.

“Place-based Education\” Lecture – Ray Barnhadt 2

Alaska Native Education:Steps Toward Reciprocity

Historically, schools in rural Alaska have been largely alien institutions with an imported curriculum that gave little consideration to the unique knowledge and skills that already existed in the communities they served.
It wasn\’t until the middle of the last century that elementary schools were established in Native communities, and only 30 years ago that secondary schools became available in rural communities.
Before 1975, most village students had to leave their home community and attend a boarding school to obtain a high school education. So our task has been to open up a dialogue to foster a two-way exchange of ideas, knowledge and skills between the schools and the communities they serve, recognizing that each contains knowledge of value to the students.

A major contribution toward opening this dialogue was the work of Angayuqaq Oscar Kawagley, whose doctoral dissertation provided critical insights into the world view, ways of knowing and educational practices of his people, the Yupiaq of Southwest Alaska.

Central to Dr. Kawagley\’s thesis was the representation of a Yupiaq world view as made up of a dynamic relationship between the human, natural and spiritual realms that constitute the whole of Yupiaq existence. He argued that one cannot address the role of the human realm without taking into consideration our interdependency with the natural and spiritual worlds. In other words, we can\’t teach science or history apart from understanding how we as humans interact with the world around us.

This chart illustrates how we went about introducing changes into the educational systems at two levels.

First, we had to engage Native elders to better understand how the local knowledge systems functioned in ways that could be drawn upon to enhance the school curriculum (the initiatives along the upper stream).
Then we had to find ways to make room in the established state curriculum to incorporate the world view, knowledge and ways of knowing present in the communities.

The goal was to bring the two streams of knowledge together in a way that they could complement one another to broaden and deepen the educational experiences of the students.

As we worked with the elders, it soon became apparent that we had to go beyond the visible aspects of the local cultures that schools typically had been limited to, such as dancing, foods, story-telling or subsistence practices (the tip of the iceberg), and take into consideration the deeper, less visible knowledge that continues to be an important part of life in Native communities.

Some of these less tangible elements of local knowledge that offer a rich opportunity for students to engage in comparative study include weather forecasting, navigation skills, traditional medicines, measurement systems, language patterns, local technologies and survival skills.

Elders themselves have become important contributors to the process of documenting local knowledge, such as this book by Athabascan Elder, Howard Luke. Howard\’s book includes a detailed map of the traditional places of importance to the people who inhabited Interior Alaska long before the gold rush brought a new form of livelihood to the Tanana Valley.

Elders in each cultural region of Alaska have also contributed to the educational process in their communities by putting together a list of values that they consider as representative of who they are and how they interact with the world around them.

These values serve as an important guide for teachers and community members to socialize young people into their roles as future leaders and culture bearers in their communities.

This is another example of local values from the Yupik people in Southwest Alaska, with both a Yupik and English translation.

As Native people in Alaska began to put forward their own ideas of how schools might best contribute to the educational and cultural well-being of their children, it became apparent that the school curriculum that was outlined in the academic content standards prepared by the Alaska Department of Education did not provide sufficient guidance to produce a well-rounded education, particularly for Native students.To address this deficiency in the State system, Native people engaged in a two-year process to prepare their own version of a comprehensive outline of what students needed to learn to be full contributors to their families and communities. In 1998, the Alaska Department of Education adopted these \”Alaska Standards for Culturally Responsive Schools\” as an additional component of the State standards for schools.