NWABSD Alaska Studies Social Studies Curriculum

(about this curriculum)


To understand how geography influenced the settlement of Native peoples in different regions of Alaska by paying special attention to land and water resources and climate.

To examine how geography influences natural resource development today.

Identify important geographical features including land mass, bodies of water, resources and climate.

Partition Alaska into geographic and climatic regions

Name Native groups within these regions.

Focus on a geographical region of the state and identify natural resources in that area.

  Read and draw maps and chart weather data for your region.

Visit weather bureau or invite a guest speaker from the weather service.

Invite elders to share their traditional knowledge of weather patterns with students

Build a vocabulary by learning geographic terminology and names of Native groups.

Make a collage poster depicting contemporary resource use in various climatic and geographic regions of Alaska, and display.

Alaska Geographic Society -annual membership - P.O. Box 93370, Department E88G1, Anchorage, Alaska 99509-3370.

-Alaska Native People

-Alaska Studies Connection - Centralized Correspondence Study, Box F, Juneau, Alaska 99811-0500.

To be able to articulate several theories of migration into Alaska. Understand theories of migration and settlement.

Locate major archaeological finds in Alaska.

Native legends and stories from oral history accounts may be useful in discussing theories of migration and settlement. Demonstrate how land use has changed in a particular region based on geography and natural resources.

Compare and contrast theories of migration.

Trace your own family's history of migration and chart it from one community to another.

Simulate an archaeological dig.

-U.S. Geological Survey maps.      -Kit on Eskimo Archaeology, 395 Whittier Street, Juneau, Alaska 99811.

-Archaeology Series, KYUK Video Productions, Pouch 468, Bethel, Alaska 99559.

-People of Ukpiagvik video DMRC interlibrary loan.

To understand the concept of culture, in particular, as it pertains to Alaska Native peoples.

To be able to distinguish one cultural group from another by analyzing their social structures, belief systems, material culture, language, arts, and values.

Identify all major Native groups and languages in Alaska: Aleut, Inupiat, Yupik, Athabascan, Tlingit, Haida, Tsimpshian. (R)

Recognize the material culture of various Native groups (tools, transportation, etc.)

Focus on traditional activities such as arts, dancing, storytelling, Native games and healing.

For each of the objectives listed here, teachers may apply them to a survey of Alaska Native cultures and/or focus specifically on their own region.

It may be especially helpful for students to contrast their heritage with that of another Native group so they are aware of both the similarities and distinct differences between them.

Find out how Alaska Native languages are learned and continue to be used today. Compare this with earlier time before English was introduced.

Design and create a piece of artwork or a tool based on traditional models.

Design and create a piece of artwork or a tool based on traditional models.

Develop an oral history or learn (and translate, if possible) an elder's account.

Learn how to execute an event from the Eskimo-Indian Olympics and describe the original purpose of that sport.

Alaska Native peoples and Their Languages (map) Alaska Native Language Center, Box 900111,   Univ. of Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska 99775-0120

Alaska's Native People, Alaska Geographic. Alaska Native Prehistory Series, Mariswood Educational Resources, Box 7, Aniak, AK 99557.

To be able to perceive culture as a changing phenomenon, and recognize its adaptations over time. Discuss subsistence activities (hunting, fishing and food gathering), and compare lifestyles of elders and students.

Understand the traditional social structures and belief systems of Native groups.

Analyze why some aspects of traditional culture continue to be an integral part of many Natives' lives.

Culture should not be studied as an isolated "happening" in the past but as a continuum up through modern times. Write a profile of an Alaska Native who is involved in traditional activities, such as healing, subsistence hunting and fishing, or dancing.

Have students demonstrate ways that they continue to live a subsistence lifestyle and/or invite guests to share their subsistence experiences with the class.

List your values and beliefs and compare them with those of another Native group.

Describe a traditional activity that is common in your region.

Alaska Oral History Teaching Kit, Alaska Department of Education, P.O. Box F, Juneau, Alaska 99811 (907) 465-2841.

Kits on Eskimo archaeology, Alaska State Museum Learning Kits

Alaska Studies Connection, Centralized Correspondence Study, Box F, Juneau, AK 99811-0500

Athabaskans: People of the Boreal Forest, Univ. of AK Museum, (907)474-7505.

Della Keats: Inupiaq Tribal Doctor (DMRC)

Heartbeat: World Eskimo Indian Olympics, DMRC Interlibrary loan

Inua: Spirit World of the Bering Sea Eskimo video

Make Prayers to the Raven video of Koyukon people, DMRC

Qayaq:Kayaks of Siberia and Alaska video, DMRC Interlibrary loan

The Shadow Walkers video, DMRC Interlibrary loan

Shungnak: A Village Profile video, DMRC

Who I Am, Yupik people video DMRC Interlibrary loan

Xaadas, Haida culture video DMRC Interlibrary loan


To understand the reason for Russian involvement in Alaska and the effect it had on the Native population.

Describe reasons for Russian exploration of Alaska

Outline the goals and achievements of Vitus Bering's two expeditions.

Trace the movement of the promyschlenniki across the Aleutians.

Identify first permanent Russian Settlements in Alaska.

  Construct a map of Russian progress across Siberia and first contact with Alaska.

Describe the role that Peter the Great played in Russian interest in Alaska.

Chart on a map the routes taken by Bering and Co.

Develop a character sketch of a promyschlenikki.

Research specific incidents of conflict between Russian Aleuts.

List names of important Russian figures in Alaska.

Describe Alaska under the Russian-America Company.

Chart economic activity in Russian colony.

Russian America by Hector Chevigny (Binford and Mort)

Alaska's Heritage by Joan Alonson, William Hanable (Alaska Historical Society)

Alaska Studies Connection Unit 3/ Lessons 17-18

To understand the reasons and extent of Euro-American exploration of Alaska during the Russian period. Compare the journeys of French, Spanish, British, and American explorers.

Describe how these contacts affected the resources and people of Alaska.

Identify beginnings of commercial whaling in Bering Sea and Arctic Ocean.

  Chart the explorations of Euro-Americans on map.

Label places named by Euro-American explorers.

Research the life and accomplishments of James Cook.


To comprehend the reasons for the failure of the Russian-America colony and its sale to America. Describe Russian-America under the leadership of Alexander Baranov.

Describe examples of economic activity in Russian-America after the fur monopoly had been lost.

Identify motives for sale of Russian-America to the United States.

  Research changes that Baranov made in Russian-America.

Identify efforts to expand Russian-America colony within Alaska and through the American West.

Determine effects of British and American competition on Russian-America.

Chart population patterns of Russians/Creoles/Natives.

Make a chronology of negotiations and sale.

Identify primary figures involved.

Predict how Alaska would be different had Russia not sold Alaska or had found another buyer.



To understand the period of neglect and exploitation in the years following the purchase of Alaska.

Explain the terms of the Treaty of Cession 1867.

Describe the military occupation of Alaska 1867-1880

    The Alaskans (Time Life Books)

Whales, Ice and Men John Bockstoce (University of Washington Press)

  Describe commercial activities during the early American period.

Describe efforts of Sheldon Jackson to give Alaska government, reindeer herding, education and religion.

  Research beginning of the Alaska Commercial Company.

Determine effects of commercial whaling on coastal Natives.

List terms of the First Organic Act.

Locate on a map the areas of missionary activity.

Relate story of Sinrock Mary.

The Alaska Journal" (1986 compilation) (Alaska Northwest Publishing Company)

Alaska Studies Connection Unit 3/ Lessons 19-24

To comprehend the effects the gold rush period had on Alaska and its people. Describe gold strikes in Juneau, the Klondike, Nome and Fairbanks.   Compare each of the gold strikes and the permanent changes which were made in Alaska.

Research and write biographical sketches of notable people of this period.

Locate on a map transportation routes and important settlements of gold rush period.

  Identify achievements of the Second Organic Act 1912.   Research actions taken by early territorial legislatures.  
  Describe the Alaskan economy in the early territorial period.

Relate the creation of the Matanuska Valley Colony.

  Describe the building of the Alaska Railroad.

Learn about the development of coppermining and salmon fisheries.



To understand the role Alaska played during WWII and the resulting social, political and economic effects on the territory.

Describe the potential military importance of Alaska in the Pacific.

Identify areas of military build-up in Alaska following the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Become familiar with the facts of the Japanese attacks on Dutch Harbor, Attu and Kiska.

Explain major impacts of WWII on Alaska.

  Research the military preparedness of Alaska prior to WWII.

Plot on a map the route of the Alcan Highway.

Locate major military installations in Alaska.

Research the origins of the Eskimo Scouts.

Relate American strategy for dislodging the Japanese.

Research and present hardships which existed fighting in the Aleutians.

Investigate effects of war on Aleutian population.



To understand Alaska's struggle to become a state and effects that statehood had on the political, social and economic climate.

Relate efforts made toward statehood 1912-1958   Describe the relationship between the territorial and the federal governments.

Recreate the arguments made for and against statehood.

Complete biographical sketches of prominent Alaskan political figures in statehood fight.

  Describe the economic situation in Alaska during the late '50s and early '60s.      
  Describe the passage and contents of the Alaska Constitution.   Research the Constitutional Convention.

Identify major sections and amendments to the Constitution.

  Develop an understanding of how state government works.   Name the region's state representative and senator. Follow a local election.

Follow progress of state legislature through one session.

Contact legislators concerning issue of interest.

To understand how the discovery and exploitation of oil resources has and will continue to affect Alaska. Describe the oil discoveries in Alaska.      
  Determine some of the effects of building the pipeline and receiving oil royalties.   Research environmental issues which were dealt with in the building of the pipeline.

Discover how oil royalties have affected the social and economic life in rural Alaska.

Describe how the Permanent Fund works.

  Identify environmental effects of oil industry on Alaskan lands and waters.      
To understand the impact of federal legislation on Alaska and its people. Describe the events which led up to the passage of ANCSA.   Construct a chronology of proposals to settle the issue of Native land claims.

Name and describe the men and women involved in the passage of ANCSA.

  Name three important provisions of ANCSA.   Debate the strengths and weaknesses of the Act from several points of view.  
  Describe the effects of ANCSA on Alaskan Natives.   Interview local people concerning ANCSA.  
  Describe the impact of ANILCA on Alaska.   Compare land usage before and after ANILCA.  
  Relate changes in ANCSA as a result of the 1991 amendments.