• Using Dual-Language Books to Preserve Language & Culture in Alaska Native Communities

      Ohle, Kathryn; Bartles, Jonathan (2016-09-11)
      “Children learn their language on their mother’s lap.” This conventional wisdom from a Cup’ik Elder describes the approach used by many Alaska Native peoples to promote native language acquisition. Presumably, the children learn by listening to stories and tales from a trusted parent or caregiver. However, what happens when the caregiver does not speak the native language? This chapter describes an effort to address this issue while also promoting better educational outcomes by providing access to diverse dual-language books in Alaska Native languages through the use of a digital children’s library. Potential benefits from these efforts include an increase in resources for schools, a revitalization of Indigenous languages, and an increase in access, with hopes that future work will show evidence that using these dual-language books encourage greater parent support and involvement in education, support second language acquisition, and promote a strong sense of identity. Implications and future efforts follow.
    • Quality of Life Research and Methodology: Developing a Measure for Alaska Native Peoples

      Crouch, Maria (2017)
      Quality of life (QOL) is often complicated by global measures that ignore the uniqueness of culture and context. The research is inundated with Western influence and colonized approaches, and indigenous ways of knowing are often overlooked and devalued. Diverse methodologies are a first step in stakeholder collaboration; mixed-methods research and Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) are a means of capturing the lived realities and worldviews of indigenous populations. These approaches allow for Alaska Native (AN) voice to be present in all aspects of the research process. A culturally relevant and sound measure of QOL for AN peoples must incorporate the voice of the stakeholders and the indigenous knowledge and traditional values that contribute to the beautiful and invaluable cultures of AN peoples.
    • English Studies as a Site for Healing: A Conversation about Place-Based and Indigenous Pedagogies in the English Classroom

      Stone, Jennifer; Brook Adams, Heather; Snoddy, Tayler; Mack, Samantha; Nicolet-Lloyd, Hailey; Nasruk Davis, Arlo (2017-09-11)
      This article summarizes a roundtable discussion from the 2016 Alaska Native Studies Conference among professors and students from two English Studies courses at the University of Alaska Anchorage: History of the English Language and History of Rhetoric. Jennifer and Heather discuss how the courses are traditionally taught and how they redesigned the courses to incorporate place-based and indigenous pedagogies. Then, Tayler, Samantha, Hailey, and Arlo--students from a range of backgrounds who took one or both of the classes--describe how the courses encouraged them to develop critical perspectives, build new knowledge through undergraduate research, and experience personal and professional transformations that led to advocacy. The dialogue provides a range of pedagogical perspectives and considers English Studies as a potential site for cultural and historical healing.
    • Blackfish Lessons on Environmental Sustainability, Food, and Indigenous Culture

      Swensen, Thomas (2017-09-11)
      This essay, “Blackfish Lessons on Environmental Sustainability, Food, and Indigenous Culture,” examines Yup’ik interventions into understanding the place of human-nonhuman animal relations in regard to ecological sustainability. In lending consideration to Indigenous culture, the first part of the essay explicates the Yup’ik way of living, the Yuuyaraq, and its relationship to the environment. Then the essay turns toward two Yup’ik stories about blackfish, John Active’s “Why Subsistence is a Matter of Cultural Survival: A Yup’ik Point of View” (2001) and Emily Johnson’s “Blackfish,” taken from The Thank-You Bar recorded performance (Johnson, 2009), that speak to the imbrications of Indigenous culture and the environment.
    • Protecting the Right to Exist as a People: Intellectual Property as a Means to Protect Traditional Knowledge and Indigenous Culture

      Collin, Sean; Collin, Yvette; Koskey, Michael (2018)
      The dominant Western culture has created a legal system premised upon an individualistic and commercial foundation for intellectual property rights (IPR). This system necessarily excludes the protection of traditional knowledge and other components of Indigenous cultures, as well as concepts of communal responsibility for the keeping and transfer of such ideas and knowledge. These concepts are foundational to Indigenous knowledge systems in Alaska, as well as throughout the world. Today, a focus on this issue is critical to the preservation of indigenous cultures and their ways of knowing. We examine where national and international intellectual property rights systems are in addressing Indigenous cultural and intellectual property rights (Indigenous CIPR). We also examine opportunities for expansion of such rights in Alaska and around the world.
    • Dancing in the air, standing out at sea: An analysis of Nalukataq, the blanket toss

      Robinson, Elizabeth (2018)
      This paper is a movement analysis of the blanket toss (nalukataq), an event currently manifested at the World Eskimo Indian Olympics (WEIO). First, I examine the tradition’s history and development over time as portrayed in scholarly literature on the Iñupiat whale festival. Then, I examine the blanket toss as one of many Iñupiat and Alaska Native games sharing common characteristics. Finally, I investigate the blanket toss as a WEIO competitive event, now shifted from its original site specificity and traditional context. In particular, I look at the essential components of a successful toss as defined by WEIO criteria, employing a phenomenological approach in my analysis in order to focus on the primacy of realization and reveal the ways in which aspects of the modern competitive performance may embody traditional Alaska Native cultures and values.
    • It’s more than just dollars: Problematizing salary as the sole mechanism for recruiting and retaining teachers in rural Alaska

      DeFeo, Dayna; Hirshberg, Diane; Hill, Alexandra (2018)
      Staffing rural Alaska schools with a stable workforce of qualified teachers has been perennially challenging, and the failure to do so harms student achievement. In the spring of 2014, the Alaska Department of Administration contracted with the Center for Alaska Education Policy Research to produce a uniform salary schedule and community cost differentials with the objective of attracting and retaining highly-qualified teachers to Alaskan communities. In this paper, we summarize the findings of that study, including opportunities for significant teacher salary increases. However, we discuss the role of salary in teachers’ decisions to stay or leave rural communities, noting that other working conditions are stronger predictors of teacher attrition. We argue that salaries alone will not ensure a stable and qualified teacher workforce, instead positing that efforts to improve Alaska’s rural schools and teacher retention outcomes will require both adequate compensation and attention to the working conditions.