Recent Submissions

  • Coming together at the table: partnering with urban Alaska Native families for their children's school success

    Roth, Karen L.; Vinlove, Amy; Topkok, Sean Asiqluq; Williams, Maria Shaa Tlaa; Jester, Timothy (2019-05)
    There is abundant research regarding the positive effects of family engagement as a factor in P-12 student success. Partnerships between home and school provide opportunities for students' families and educators to establish common goals and share meaning about the purpose of schooling. Unfortunately, mainstream outreach practices by Western educators have often failed to nurture authentic relationships with Indigenous families. This may be a contributing factor in lower academic success for too many Indigenous students. Historical educational practices in the U.S. for Indigenous students such as mandated attendance at distant boarding schools and English-only policies have adversely affected their languages and cultures worldwide and left a legacy of negative associations around schooling for many Native peoples. Non-Native educators continue to add to this disconnect with teaching pedagogies and curricula that are not responsive to Indigenous lifeways and values. In addition to inappropriate instructional methods and content, outreach strategies of non-Native educators may add to practices that marginalize Indigenous students and their families and discourage collaboration between home and school. This mixed-methods study sought to find family outreach strategies implemented by early childhood educators in the Anchorage School District (ASD) that build and nurture more culturally sustaining and relational approaches to building partnerships with Alaska Native families. Such practices are more likely to lead to student success for Native students. Research methods used were (a) a content analysis of ASD school-home communication fliers, (b) a survey of ASD preschool teachers on their outreach beliefs and practices with Native families, and (c) interviews with families of Alaska Native students.
  • Unangam Unikangis: Aleut stories of leadership and knowing

    Mack, Liza; Barnhardt, Ray; Carothers, Courtney; Chapin, F. Stuart III (2019-03)
    The central question of this dissertation is, "What do Aleut people know about the laws that directly affect their access to local resources?" The complex details of hunting and fishing regulations coupled with legislation that dictates access to natural resources will play a key role in Aleut leaders' ability to understand, disseminate, and protect these rights. Such policies include clauses that regulate who can and cannot participate based on blood quantum, which can be problematic for future generations of Aleut people as they marry and have children with people from outside the region. Further, with the abolishment of aboriginal title to lands and hunting and fishing rights in Alaska, understanding who owns the land and resources and how they are governed is imperative to Aleut people. This dissertation uses participant observation, critical case studies, key informant interviews, and a survey of Aleut leaders in the Eastern Aleutians to illustrate the ways in which Aleut people know and understand their environment and the ways they address natural resource management issues. It further demonstrates the way these issues are being addressed and learned about in two Eastern Aleutian communities. It also highlights the dynamic leadership of Aleut community members in the Eastern Aleutians. Some of the major findings include no reported change in subsistence use for respondents under the age of 50, a decline in the amount of subsistence used by older respondents, Aleut leaders spend years serving their communities in multiple capacities; and generally speaking, younger generations of public servants tend to become involved in community service as well.
  • Self-determination, sustainability, and wellbeing in the Alaska Native community of Ninilchik

    Gordon, Heather Sauyaq Jean; Koskey, Michael; Topkok, Sean Asiqłuq; Hirshberg, Diane; Sekaquaptewa, Patricia (2019-05)
    Alaska Natives are a diverse group of people with different language groups and over 200 tribes. We have a history of colonization and are still a colonized people, but through all this, we strive for wellness for our people. This paper begins with an explanation of historical trauma, development, and the lack of fate control Alaska Native people experience. The literature review explains how colonization can negatively impact the colonized and details international, federal, and Alaska state law and court cases having to do with Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination. In this project the researcher works with the Ninilchik Village Tribe of Ninilchik, Alaska, to explore how community members utilize self-determination, either individually and/or as a group, to achieve individual, community, and tribal sustainability and wellbeing. This project uses the method of ethnographic futures research to conduct scenarios about the future. The researcher conducted 30 interviews about three possible futures: the optimistic, pessimistic, and most likely, and followed the interviews with four focus groups to discuss the interview results. The results were coded through grounded theory in NVivo analysis software and compared with: (a) the Capabilities Approach, (b) Self-Determination Theory, (c) social science development theories of Dependency and World Systems, and (d) the Elements of Development Model. The Capabilities Approach and Self-Development Theory explain the links between self-determination and wellbeing. Dependency and World Systems Theories explain the importance of local self-determination for development. Finally, the Elements of Development Model provides an outline for different types of self-determining actions. The project analyzes Arctic wellbeing indicators and developed indicators of sustainability and wellbeing. The project results demonstrate what community members think that individuals, the community, and the tribe can do to improve sustainability and wellbeing in Ninilchik, and how to achieve those goals through self-determining actions. The dissemination document serves as the start to a 20-year strategic plan. This type of research demonstrates how tribes can address the results of historical trauma and take control of their fate through self-determination. The next steps in research would be asset mapping and capacity-building projects to work with the data and benefit the community.
  • Qik'rtam Litnauwistai (island's teachers)

    Deal, Kitty L.; Leonard, Beth; Renes, Susan; Drabek, Alisha; Montague, Caitlin (2019-05)
    Qik'rtam Litnauwistai (Island's Teachers) was a multi-tiered, community-based, participatory action research project initiated as a direct response to both community and institutional recommendations to "grow our own" Alutiiq educators. The study (a) examined current departmental practices in teacher education at Kodiak College, (b) sought community feedback through interviews regarding recruiting and retaining Alaska Native pre-service teachers on Kodiak Island, and (c) analyzed successful eLearning course completion data, based on synchronicity. The examination and focus of improvement was on the educational system and program delivery model to meet the needs of all teacher candidates, especially our future Alutiiq educators. Interview participants overwhelmingly felt it was important to "grow our own" Kodiak teachers who could (a) provide a role model, (b) have teachers who possessed and could share a high level of cultural understanding, (c) who could understand the local environment in which they worked, and (d) provide a way to strengthen the community in which they live. Based on a review of literature, interviews, and data from UAA, recommendations or considerations for changes are suggested for (a) the Kodiak College Education faculty, (b) Kodiak College, (c) the University of Alaska Anchorage, and (d) Kodiak Island Borough School District.
  • Circle peacemaking in Kake, Alaska: a case study of indigenous planning and dispute systems design

    Hylsop, Polly E.; Leonard, Beth; Jarrett, Brian; DeCaro, Peter; Wexler, David (2018-05)
    Peacemaking is both a way of life and a process to address wrongdoing in the community. The process, Circle Peacemaking is a restorative practice designed by the community members in Kake, Alaska, a Tlingit community located in the southeast part of the state. Based on local values, ancient laws and traditional knowledge, Circle Peacemaking has been effective in lowering the recidivism rate for wrongdoers in the community and pays close attention to the needs of the victims. This study adds to the growing field of Indigenous Dispute Systems Design derived from the principles and steps used in the practice of Indigenous Planning (IP) and Dispute Systems Design (DSD). DSD is a discipline practiced by attorneys and mediators when designing dispute resolution systems, such as mediation and arbitration, within organizations and communities. Despite hidden pressures and open challenges, the local design of Circle Peacemaking, both as a way of life and process, ensure that local design for bringing balance back into a community can succeed and sustain itself long-term. This study explores the resurgence of traditional knowledge and practice as a foundation for community wellness in Kake. This case study is a tribute to the people of Kake and Yukon Territory, Canada for their hard work, perseverance and dedication to the well-being of their communities. This study is a contribution of their work that they will pass down to the following generations of Peacemakers.
  • Fa'ñague: a Chamorro epistemology of post-life communication

    Ho, Dan; Koskey, Michael S.; Leonard, Beth R.; Barnhardt, Raymond J.; Topkok, Sean Asiqluq (2018-05)
    The primary aim of this dissertation is to analyze a spiritual aspect of Chamorro cosmology known as fa'ñague, or visitations from the deceased, to shed light on how and why it exists in Guam, and how it differs among Chamorro Natives who experience it in the island and abroad. A secondary aim of the dissertation is to expand upon the scholarly documentation of Native Chamorro epistemologies concerning life and death, and the role of the spiritual realm in daily life of the people of the Marianas. The dissertation is structured as follows: Part I offers an in-depth exploration and personification of Guam, the place, the culture, and the people in order to balance longstanding and erroneous conceptions about the Island. Part II includes the rationale for the research, a methodological framework, and a literature review. In addition, a full chapter on Chamorro epistemology is included to reinforce the elements of the Native worldview and way of knowing to provide context for the research findings. In Part III -- the fruits of data gathering and analysis -- are offered using both quantitative and qualitative methods. Finally, this dissertation hopes to argue and position a new model of Indigenous research methodology, which I am calling Neo-Indigenous Methodology. Essentially, it is an evolution from the de-colonizing approach borne by founding Indigenous scholars who sought to break from Western scholarly dialect to express and inform Native wisdom. Instead, Neo-Indigenous Methodology proposes that Indigenous scholars embrace the dialect of all Western humanistic discourse to further clarify and magnify pure Indigenous knowledge.
  • The relationship between the indigenous peoples of the Americas and the horse: deconstructing a Eurocentric myth

    Collin, Yvette Running Horse; Barnhardt, Raymond; Leonard, Beth Ginondidoy; John, Theresa Arevgaq; Oviedo, Marco A. (2017-05)
    This research project seeks to deconstruct the history of the horse in the Americas and its relationship with the Indigenous Peoples of these same lands. Although Western academia admits that the horse originated in the Americas, it claims that the horse became extinct in these continents during the Last Glacial Maximum (between roughly 13,000 and 11,000 years ago). This version of "history" credits Spanish conquistadors and other early European explorers with reintroducing the horse to the Americas and to her Indigenous Peoples. However, many Native Nations state that "they always had the horse" and that they had well established horse cultures long before the arrival of the Spanish. To date, "history" has been written by Western academia to reflect a Eurocentric and colonial paradigm. The traditional knowledge (TK) of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas, and any information that is contrary to the accepted Western academic view, has been generally disregarded, purposefully excluded, or reconfigured to fit the accepted academic paradigm. Although mainstream academia and Western science have not given this Native TK credence to date, this research project shows that there is no reason -- scientific or otherwise -- that this traditional Native claim should not be considered true. The results of this thesis conclude that the Indigenous horse of the Americas survived the "Ice Age" and the original Peoples of these continents had a relationship with them from Pleistocene times to the time of "First-Contact." In this investigation, Critical Indigenous Research Methodologies (CIRM) and Grounded Theory (GT) are utilized in tandem to deconstruct the history of the horse in the Americas and reconstruct it to include cross-cultural translation, the TK of many Indigenous Peoples, Western scientific evidence, and historical records. This dissertation suggests that the latest technology combined with guidance and information from our Indigenous Peoples has the power to reconstruct the history of the horse in the Americas in a way that is unbiased and accurate. This will open new avenues of possibility for academia as a whole, as well as strengthen both Native and non-Native communities.