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Impact of ANCSA in the Arctic Slope
Taking Control: Fact or Fiction?
A curriculum unit plan by Pat Aamodt

     The unit provides teachers with resources that concentrate on the Inupiat people of the Arctic Slope to teach the complex issues of ANCSA by using information students can relate to.  Taking Control and the video Our Children: Their Language and Culture  are key resources for teaching the unit.


1.    Students develop a WEB page on ANCSA's impact in the Arctic Slope region.


Alaska Standard - History A & B
Alaska Standard - Government and Citizenship A, B, C, F

1.    Students will identify ASNA as one of the  key players in the settlement of ANCSA rather than just a company that operates programs in the Arctic Slope. (Cognitive)

Alaska Standard - History A: goals 1, 6, 7, 8. B: goals, 1, 2, 3
Alaska Standard - Government and Citizenship A: goal 2. B: goals 5, 9. C: goals, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9

2.    Students gather information on a topic to document change resulting from the passage of ANCSA for the WEB page.


Alaska Standard - History A, B and C
Alaska Standard - Government and Citizenship A, B, C, F

2     Students will develop a working knowledge of ASNA, ASRC, ICAS, NSB, and Tribal Councils and understand the responsibilities they have for providing services in the Arctic Slope. (Procedural)
Alaska Standard - History A: goals 1, 6, 7, 8. B: goals, 1, 2, 3, 4. C: goals,1, 2, 3, 4
Alaska Standard - Government and Citizenship A: goal 2. B: goals 2, 5, 7, 9. C: goals 1, 2, 5, 7, 8. F: goal 9
3.    Students invite other Alaskan students to develop WEB pages on ANCSA's impact to their regions and share their research findings during the 1999 AFN Elders and Youth Conference.
Alaska Standard - History D
Alaska Standard - Government and Citizenship F
3.    Students will share regional history to promote a better understanding among others, the impact ANCSA has on the Inupiat of the Arctic Slope. (Affective)
Alaska Standard - History D: 1, 2, 3
Alaska Standard - Government and Citizenship F: goal 9

    As an indigenous people, we believe, that  we  have embraced the past and kept an open mind to change.  The students will determine whether that has indeed taken place in our region as they explore the unit Taking Control: Fact or Fiction. The North Slope Borough publication and the video Our Children: Their Language and Culture are tools to help make the complex issues of land ownership, subsistence, retention of language and culture, education, regional and village corporations and their impact on the students more easily understandable.   These two resources can be used as initial research materials on how ANCSA has affected the people of the Arctic Slope. The other resources listed provide additional background information for students who are interested in further research.  A rich resource available to students are the parents, and extended family members who may have played a key role in the early days that lead to the settlement of ANCSA.  Most students may recognize the names of the leadership either from what they have read in publications such as Uiniq, Arctic Sounder, ASRC Newsletter or even from their parents.  

    A key question students can ask before delving into each lesson might be:

      Has the Inupiat, within the last three decades, successfully dealt with changes caused by the passage of ANCSA?

Lesson 1

 Was the State of Alaska justified in taking almost $1,000,000,000 .00 in oil lease sales from the Arctic Region without checking with the landowners?

Guy and Fannie Okakok with their children. Guy signed the first Inupiat Land Claim along with Etok Charlie Edwardsen, Jr., and Samuel Simmonds. Photo taken in Barrow, Alaska.   


"The poverty in Alaska is as deep, tragic, and appalling as any in the world," Shriver proclaimed afterwards.  "I have never seen any lack of material resources greater than in Alaska...There's no longer any need for anyone to be poor in 20th Century America," he added.]

Class Activities

    The Guy Okakok family picture taken in the 1950's reflects the poverty we faced before the passage of ANCSA.  The photo is the "prompt"  to generate discussion of what students may have heard or may have read books of the extreme poverty.  It is a painful exercise and must be dealt with with the utmost respect.  The activity may be best handled in small group discussions with a couple of student volunteers recording the comments before sharing in a large group setting..  This may take 10 to 15 minutes before all the comments are compiled on the white board.  Have students file the comments for future use as they gather data so they can develop their WEB page.

     Students generate a list of questions they want to have answers to regarding the key question of the first oil lease sales in the Arctic region.  Students are given a choice of asking questions and gathering responses from people who may have grown up prior to the 1970's or to read up to THE COURT BATTLES in the Taking Control book.  Students share their understanding of living conditions before the 1970's in the Arctic Slope region.

   During the lesson, students explore whether the Inupiat of the Arctic Slope are truly on the driver's seat of the rapid changes generated by mandates of ANCSA. As Inupiaq people, we are known as an adaptable group of people. A people willing to take a look at a change, a new invention, or an idea that may help make life easier for us. An example, is the adoption of a shoulder gun used by Yankee whalers in the 1800's.  Our people saw the advantage of using a shoulder gun rather then continue to rely on a lance and a harpoon to hunt for bowhead whales. New, more effective whaling guns since then have been utilized along with the harpoon to improve the number of whales struck and landed. The Inupiat have taken the International Whaling Commission mandated quota in stride as we believe we cannot condone frivolous and haphazard approaches to hunting of any animal, especially the bowhead whale. Although the quota was meant to limit our traditional practice of hunting the bowhead whale our people quickly determined it would instead be used to maximize the chances of an assured kill.  This forced change lead to the use of more effective and humane tools to maintain the tradition of hunting bowheads.  This is a prime example of adaptations to change we have made as a people.  This example can use as a launching off point to explore other adaptations to change which has allowed traditional practices to continue by using new tools.  The students will be able to make the transfer of knowledge from this example that our leaders took the new tool of ANCSA to address the poverty of our people.

Assessment: The following questions can be used as pre and post tests. Suggestion is to display the questions and have student responses posted under each question. This method allows students to gain ideas, information, and personal views which they may not have thought of. The WEB pages developed can be used to determine mastery of knowledge at the end of the unit. Suggestion is to have 3 students to work as a team in the development of a WEB page.

Lesson 2

The teacher asks for student response on the question of: What events lead to the loss of the Inupiaq language in the North Slope?

    Another aspect of change students can explore is a sensitive one. Students watch a video clip (video clip for 28k modem) on Ned Nelson, former Barrow High School student talk about ANCSA and problems caused by it.  The video clip was recorded during the 1991 AFN Elder's and Youth's Conference.  Ned and other North Slope students are wrestling with the issue of Inupiaq language loss.  This discussion of Inupiaq language loss leads to other issues the students have observed in their communities across the Arctic Slope.  The class does a brainstorming activity as to what they believe are the causes in small groups and shares their lists with the whole class.  Students will determine whether the loss of the Inupiaq language is a change supported by the people.  Is the loss of the Inupiaq language a change they support?  If so,  why?  If they do not support the loss, why not?  A recommended activity to explore the issue is to watch all of the video, Our Children: Their Language and Culture .  After watching the video the students can raise 3 to 5 questions they may want to ask their parents and grandparents as to why they were not taught the Inupiaq language at home.  The students interview the parents and extended family members by using video cameras.  They,  then will review the responses to see if there is a pattern in the responses to their questions.  A culminating activity may be to develop a list of activities that may encourage parents and extended family members to teach Inupiaq to children at home.  These activities can be shared via the NSBSD Wide Area Network with an invitation to other students to add to the list of recommended activities.  One example might be encouraging the Inupiaq speaker to use only Inupiaq during the hunt for caribou, the butchering of the animal, the preparation of the food, ways of storing the food.  The activity centered on hunting of animals in the Arctic Region can easily fit with lessons taught by the Inupiat Language teacher.

Assessment: The following questions may be used as pre and post test questions. The students would benefit more by having questions displayed before the start of the lesson so they know what to expect to learn from the lesson. It also gives them an opportunity to ask their family members questions about the Inupiaq language.

Lesson 3:

Elder Noah Itta said, "he was all for the idea of claiming the land so the Eskimos could still hunt where they please without having to trespass on someone else's land."    Are the people free to hunt today without "trespassing"?

    Land ownership is a major issue resulting from the passage of ANCSA.  The reading of Taking Control provides the students with a brief review of traditional land use and changes made by a single act of Congress.  The traditional perspective shared by the Inupiaq people is that land belongs to all the people.  The view of land ownership is quite different today.  There are lands designated as native allotments, NPRA, ANWR, and the Arctic Wildlife Preserve.  Students may hear their parents and extended families talk about "we used to camp at this site before so and so filed for a native allotment there".  This drastic change of land ownership has had a significant impact from "ours" to "mine" mentality leading to disputes.  A joint research project as to who owns the land within the immediate area and  the community with the goal of developing a WEB page is a great way to get students engaged.  This activity requires students to work with the village corporation's and the regional corporation's land departments.  Another resource is the North Slope Borough Planning Department (GSI) which has excellent maps with traditional hunting cabins listed at campsites in each region.  The Arctic Slope Native Association's Land Department has the listing of all native allotments either conveyed or in the process of being conveyed. Most people running these departments are available to come in to the classroom to talk about land ownership in that region.  You will find they are more than happy to share their knowledge of land.  ASNA, ASRC and the NSB can be accessed via Internet if students opt to contact them rather then write traditional letters.

Assessment: The culminating assessment to the lesson is to have students develop a WEB page on land use for each village. The following list of questions can be posted before the lesson on land ownership so that students can start thinking and asking questions on their own regarding land in their area.

The unit was developed by Pat Aamodt (former teacher, administrator in the NSBSD) using the North Slope Borough publication, Taking Control and the North Slope Borough School District video, Our Children: Their Language and Culture. Personal thanks to Bill Hess, owner of Running Dog Company, the NSB and the NSBSD in allowing me to use their material. Also, a big thank you to Bill MacDiarmid, Paul Ongtooguk and Katie Eberhart from ISER for their patience and assistance. Quyanaqpauraq to my husband Mike, and my precious daughter Avaiyak for giving me time to do the project. To my son Aniqsuaq who critiqued my work, quyanaqpauraq!

The 21 years of working with children from the North Slope have been most gratifying. My sincere appreciation to each of you (former students) who have touched my life in ways you cannot imagine. My hope is our children and their children will never forget the sacrifices made by our Inupiat leaders to take control of God's blessings to improve our standard of living in the Arctic.