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Teacher's Guide

Regional History
Teacher's Guide
Alaska’s Cultures: The View from Inside: Traditional Cultural Literature (Extension Lesson)

Enduring Understandings

Present day Alaska was home to multiple cultural groups who developed sophisticated societies prior to contact with European people. Reflecting on the stories and literature of a cultural group gives a first person account of how that society viewed the world.

Estimated Time:

Two class periods

Materials needed:

Course links: Cultures unit narrative
Other links: Alaska Native stories and legends (from websites below, libraries)

Lesson Plan:

  1. Assign each student to read at least one traditional story and/or legend from Alaska Native cultures
  2. After reading, each student shares a summary, impressions, and any questions that emerged from the reading.
  3. As a class, discuss the kind of information and impressions one gets from reading literature compared to the type of information that is learned from reading third person accounts.
  4. Focus questions for this discussion:
    • What types of characters (human and non human) were in the stories that you read?
    • What were the stories about (summaries of plot statements)?
    • What were the problems encountered in the story/legend you read?
    • What were the solutions?
    • How did this literature increase your understanding of traditional Alaska Native cultures? Beliefs? Values? Customs? Humor? View of the world?
  5. Focus Questions for
    • The Legend of "Keet" can be found in the Literature section of Alaskool. These curriculum materials were developed by Claribel and Henry Davis. Part 1 of the materials contains the legend.
    • John Pingayak’s curriculum of The Cup’ik People of the Western Tundra includes stories of the Cup’ik from Chevak in Lesson IV. These stories can be accessed via the literature section of Alaskool.
    • William A. Oquilluk tells the Kauweramiut oral traditions as passed to him by his grandfather in the remarkable People of Kauwerak, legends of the Northern Eskimo (Inupiat). This book is available on line through the literature section of Alaskool.
    • Barbara Carlson tells a story entitled, “There is no such thing as an Aleut.” This story will be found in the Language section of Alaskool with the Unangan/Unangas resources.
    • The Chugach region was populated historically by Yu’pik Eskimos, Aleuts, and several Indian groups, including Athabascan and Tlingit. The legends reprinted in “Chugach Legends” were told by Chief Makari from Nuchek and two other elders. Access “Chugach Legends” through the Literature section of Alaskool.
Additional Resources
  • This site contains one story from Aleut culture that will be found through the “Native Literature” link to the “Indigenous People’s literature” section. The story relates to the pre and post contact tragedy of the Aleut people. The story can be accessed by following a route through the Resource Directory to Native Literature to Indigenous People’s Literature.

Alaska Standards:

Culture: A, B, D
History: C, D
AK History: AH PPE 2


Exceeds Meets In Progress Not Started
Content Student shows good evidence of having researched more than one web site and read a variety of stories and legends. Student engages in classroom discussion of topic, listening to others’ comments and sharing personal reflections. Student has read some stories and legends, and takes part in the class discussion on the topic. No web sites have been consulted. There is some involvement in class discussion and limited response to questions. No web site has been consulted; there is no class participation or response to questions.

*Lesson based on Alaska Studies course materials, Anchorage School District Curriculum


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