Alaska Studies Units

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The right to reproduce all or part of the contents of this publication in any form, including microfilm, xerography, or electronically is reserved by the authors and the Bering Strait School District Curriculum Department, Unalakleet, Alaska.

Bering Strait School District teachers may, however, Xerox portions of the text, as necessary, for classroom use.

Inquiries regarding purchase and reproduction should be directed to:

Bering Strait School District
Curriculum Department
Post Office Box 225
Unalakleet, Alaska 99684

Funded by: United States Department of Education
Alaska Native Education Planning, Curriculum Development,
Teacher Training and Recruitment Program
CFDA 84.320A

Developed and produced under the direction of:
Dr. John A. Davis, Superintendent
Virginia Degnan, Ed.D., Coordinator of Program Support
Greg Johnson, Director of Curriculum and Instruction

How To Use This Curriculum Guideiv

Unit 1 Geography

Recognizing Place: Alaska's Six Regions 1

(District Objective C)

Why This Place? How Geography Affects Life 15

(District Objective D)

Unit 2 Resources

Resource Availability: Using Material from Land and Sea29

(District Objectives C and F)

Conflict: How Resources Are Used 55

(District Objective G)

Unit 3 Native Culture Groups

Alaska's Native Cultures: Differences and Similarities 77

(District Objective A)

Change Over Time: Understanding Community History 111

(District Objective B)

Unit 4 History

Times of Contact: Influences from Without 127

(District Objective B)

Times of Contact: Boom and Bust 143

(District Objective C)

Unit 7 Contemporary Issues

Alaska Natives and the Federal Government: 183

A Special Relationship (District Objective A)

Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, 30 Years Later:205

Civil Rights Are Not Freely Given, They Must Be Taken

(District Objective B)

Tribal Sovereignty: A Journey with Unity of Purpose 253

(District Objective C)


Cultural Values Preference Form283



This curriculum guide contains units for the Bering Strait School District high school Alaska Studies course. Only units identified by teachers as requiring additional teaching aids are included in this manual. In addition to utilizing textbooks and material contained in Alaska Studies kits the district previously assembled for this course, the authors have identified many current books, publications, and materials that should be incorporated into the teaching of these lessons. The teacher will notice that the units have been specifically designed to take advantage of Internet technology in the classroom.

The Table of Contents contains the list of units that have been redesigned and updated. It lists the unit first, then the specific objective as outlined in the Bering Strait School District high school Alaska Studies course outline. For a complete listing of all units and objectives in the high school Alaska Studies series, please review the course outline.

Each unit contains seven categories.


Standards Guiding this Unit:


Teacher Background:



Day-by-day guide:

Alaska’s Six Regions


Upon completion of this unit, students will better understand the concept of region as it applies to the six geographic regions of the state of Alaska. It builds a foundation for further work in the Geography and Resource Performance Objectives outlined for the high school Alaska Studies class. This weeklong unit is designed to meet the district performance objective Geography C: Describe the types of climates and their effects in various areas of Alaska.

Standards Guiding this Unit:

Content Standards - Geography

B. A student should be able to utilize, analyze, and explain information about

the human and physical features of places and regions.

2) analyze how places are formed, identified, named, and characterized

C. A student should understand the dynamic and interactive natural forces that

shape the earth’s environments.

  1. recognize the concepts used in studying environments and recognize the diversity and productivity of different regional environments

Cultural Standards

E. Culturally-knowledgeable students demonstrate an awareness and

appreciation of the relationships and processes of interaction of all elements

in the world around them.

  1. understand the ecology and geography of the bioregion they inhabit

Performance Standards

Reading (Ages 15-18)

  1. summarize information or ideas from a text and make connections

between summarized information or sets of ideas and related topics or information

Writing (Ages 11-14)

1) write a coherent composition that includes a thesis statement, supporting

evidence, and conclusion

4) a. revises writing to improve organization, word choice, and paragraph development, and voice appropriate to the purpose

b. form and explain own standards or judgments of quality writing

5) list and document sources using a given format

6) compose and edit a composition with a word processing program

Writing (Ages 15-18)

1) write a coherent composition with a thesis statement that is supported with evidence, well-developed paragraphs, transitions, and a conclusion

Math Measurement (Ages 15-18)


1) evaluate measurements for accuracy, precision, and error with respect to

the measuring tools, methods, and the computational process


Before beginning this unit, District Performance Objectives for Geography A and B will have been met and Alaska Content Standards for Geography A1, A2, A3, B1, C1, and C2 will have been introduced.


Note: These are suggestions. Some students in your class may be more advanced and will need more work to do or they may need more time. Please do what you need to do to make the lessons appropriate for your class size and ability. This may mean that only one region is studied if your class is very small or that two groups work on the same region if your class is large.

Day 1 -Defining Region

Students will identify how they define region, then match their

responses to a prepared depiction of the many ways areas can be separated into regions. Students will then practice determining the boundaries of regions in the state of Alaska.

Day 2 -Defining Climate

Students will identify how they define climate, then match their responses to a prepared depiction of the many ways areas can be separated into regions. For the purpose of this unit we will use the six regions of Alaska as shown on Map 15 in Alaska in Maps: A Thematic Atlas, page 33. In groups, students will research climate in one of each of the six regions.

Day 3 -Map Construction

Each group of students will construct a map to scale of their assigned region. (Make sure all groups use the same ratio.) Students will record on their maps the information they researched on regional climate and will present oral reports describing their maps.

Day 4 -Trivia

Students will compare and contrast the regions described in their

oral reports. Students will then play a trivia game using questions they wrote themselves.

Day 5 - Regional Brochure

In groups, students will start to create a sample brochure for their

assigned region that would be appropriate for a convention and visitors' bureau or chamber of commerce.



Photocopies of the outline of the state of Alaska (There is a master on page 111 of the Alaska: A Land In Motion teacher's guide.)

Photocopies of Map 15, page 33, Alaska in Maps: A Thematic Atlas

Large poster boards



Overhead projector (if you will allow the students to use it to enlarge their maps)

Books for Teachers

Monmonier, Mark. How to Lie with Maps. Chicago: University of Chicago

Press, 1991.

Partnow, Patricia. Teacher’s Guide to Alaska: A Land In Motion. Fairbanks,

AK: University of Alaska, 1995.

Partnow, Patricia H. Teacher's Guide for Alaska in Maps: A Thematic Atlas.

Fairbanks, AK: University of Alaska, 1998.

Wood, Denis. The Power of Maps. London: The Guilford Press, 1992.

The USGS publishes a variety of informative teaching packets, fact sheets, posters, booklets, leaflets, and brochures about cartography, geography, and related sciences. These publications can be obtained from any Earth Science Information Center (ESIC). For more information, call 1-888-ASK-USGS (275-8747).

Books for Students

Ferrell, Nancy Warren. Alaska: A Land In Motion. Fairbanks, AK: University

of Alaska, 1994.

Graydon, Don, ed. The Alaska Almanac 25th Anniversary Edition. Portland, OR: Alaska Northwest Books, 2001.
Pearson, Roger W. and Marjorie Hermans. Alaska in Maps: A Thematic Atlas.
Fairbanks, Alaska, AK: University of Alaska, 1998.



"Alaska's Weather." Alaska Geographic Volume 18, No. 1, (1991)

"A Photographic Geography of Alaska." Alaska Geographic Volume 7, No. 2, (1980)

Web Sites

The state of Alaska has this site for tourists. It has some good information.

Click on "mapping" and look around. There are some fun ideas here, especially under "for parents, teachers, and students."

This is an excellent site with lesson plans (separated by age group) that would work well for additional activities.

This has all sorts of links for geography teachers.

This one is great! It has all kinds of ideas for additional geography activities.

Students can look here for chamber of commerce web sites of Alaskan communities. (Not all communities have chambers of commerce.)

Students can look here for visitors’ information. They may also look for the convention and visitor bureaus of the larger communities in their assigned regions.


1. Defining RegionDay-by-day guide

This is the first project of the unit and the maps and papers produced in this unit will be used for the rest of the units in the geography curriculum. It is important to set the tone for the units to come. Remember to have fun. Regions can seem like a very staid topic, but it can be interesting if the students understand how it pertains to their lives.


Students will identify how they define region, then match their responses to a prepared depiction of the many ways areas can be separated into regions. Students will then practice determining the boundaries of regions in the state of Alaska.


Alaska: A Land In Motion

Outline map of the state of Alaska


Much of the first day will be discussion. Students may be surprised to discover how much they already know about this topic. They may have to research specific information, but the basic idea of region should not be new.

  1. Ask the students how they define region. (A good definition is on page 13 of Alaska: A Land In Motion.) How are areas separated into regions? What kinds of regions do they know? Have a student list the answers on the board or on a flip chart. Have another poster or flip chart prepared with the following items listed on it:
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