Nearly all of these have been initiated by groups and organizations outside of the formal K-12 and university systems. Alaska Native curriculum and teacher development project website. . These geographical features are often the basis for perceptions of Alaska by "Outsiders," and they have prompted many to describe it as a "land of contrasts" or a "land of extremes.". Although the actual population figures for Alaska Native people have changed since 1887 (a decrease beginning in 1867, and an increase in the past 20 years), the proportion of Alaska Native people across the three primary groups has remained fairly consistent: Eskimos at 56 percent, Indians at 34 percent, and Aleuts at 10 percent. Edna Ahgeak MacLean (1986) has written about Inupiaq traditional community houses and describes these "qargit" as entities that "served as political, social, ceremonial and educational institutions . 33-53). Although more than half of Alaska Native children were enrolled in state public schools, a significant number were still in BIA elementary day schools. Kawagley, A. Cahete, G. (1994). and when he didn't hear the •hmmms' anymore he stopped, and knew everybody was sleeping. Through their collective efforts, they achieved what, at the time was "perhaps the most comprehensive and far-reaching legal settlement of aboriginal claims to land and its resources yet witnessed in the contemporary worldãthe Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, "ANCSA" (Gaffney, 1977, p. 29). Four years later this major technological feat was completed, and Alaska became an important supplier of United States oil. The Hootch family, whose daughter the suit was named after, lived in the Yup'ik Eskimo community of Emmonak, with a population of about 400 people. Alaska Native Knowledge Network. The laws that were supposed to protect customary and traditional subsistence rights are similar to broken treaties. The geographic, historical and cultural context of Alaska has always provided challenges and afforded opportunities for schooling that are often unique. Alaska is indeed a land of contrasts and extremes, but not only because of its physical features. A number of "the Great Society" programs had a direct impact on American Indian and Alaska Native education programs and policies. The class-action suit, charging discriminatory practice on the part of the state, was filed by Alaska Legal Services, on behalf of rural secondary-aged students, for not providing local high school facilities for predominantly Native communities when it did for same-size, predominantly non-Native, communities. This becomes evident when considering the impact of land and resource decisions upon the programs and policies in Alaska education following the passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act in 1971. It is interesting to note that although there was a set-back in federal government support for local control initiatives after WW II, there was legislation passed in the 1950s that did provide additional financial assistance to public schools. Included in these categories were children on military installations and federal Indian lands (DeJong, 1993; Szasz, 1974). Night after night, while her mother sewed by the light of a coal oil lamp, Eliza and her two brothers, snug in bed rolls atop mattresses stuffed with moose hair, would listen intently as their stepfather spun narratives of long ago when animals were people. Best-selling books by Indian authors Dee Brown, Vine Deloria and N. Scott Momaday, as well as movies like Little Big Man and A Man Called Horse helped to promote interest in American Indian issues. The geographic and physical features are remarkable. The University of Alaska Fairbanks is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and educational institution and is a part of the University of Alaska system. Instruction was provided in the three "R's," in industrial skills, and in patriotic citizenship. The highly decentralized system of schools and districts in rural Alaska, however, is both "the good news and the bad news." These communities have school systems that are typical of most in the United States. Alaska Native communities schools were operated by the Federal government and a variety of church mission schools. Alaska Native students today have a far more diverse set of educational experiences than have any group of students in the pastãand perhaps more so than their counterparts in other states because of the unique historical context of Alaska's rural Native communities. The establishment of regional "school districts" did not, however, address the need for high schools in rural areas. Student populations are diverse with the largest minority group being Alaska Native. The potential for students to become academically successful in culturally relevant ways now exists in ways that were unimaginable just thirty years ago. Most of the State's reforms are based on national models related to issues of accountability, standards, and standardized testing for students and teachers. Since then, there has been progress. Although an increasing number of Native people live in urban areas of the state, the terms rural and Native are frequently used interchangeably. Alutiiq, Koyukon Athabascan, Inupiat, Tlingit, Yup'ik). The inherent paradox in a system that requires the government to provide education for Native Americans while at the same time promoting self-determination has not yet been resolved. As a result of this massive decentralization effort, the REAAs (similar to school districts in urban areas, but without a local government or tax base) have assumed responsibility for educating all children in their regional areas. . (1999). . . Tippeconnic, J. The Act also "reaffirmed the continuing legal responsibility of both the federal government and the states to provide education for Indians. Native American boarding schools, also known as Indian Residential Schools, were established in the United States during the late 19th and mid 20th centuries with a primary objective of assimilating Native American children and youth into Euro-American culture, while at the same time providing a basic education in Euro-American subject matters. The report's recommendations called for a major reformation of American Indian education with Indian involvement at all levels of the educational process and with specific recommendations that education be tied to communities, day schools extended, boarding schools reformed, Indian language and culture included in the development of the curriculum, and field services decentralized (DeJong, 1993; Meriam, 1928, Szasz, 1974). The first boarding school established by Americans in Alaska occurred at Sitka in 1878 by Presbyterian missionaries, but in the decades that followed boarding schools opened across Alaska. Journal of American Indian Education, 39(1), 31-52. Education and the American Indian. Anchorage Daily News, pp. When I refer to a specific cultural/linguistic group or subgroup, I use the term with which people most commonly identify themselves (e.g. 29-50). . Of particular consequence are the federal government's early actions in the negotiation of treaties with American Indian tribes, the establishment of reservations, and the adoption of the Civilization Fund Act. Recently, however, many Natives as well as non-Natives are recognizing that the Western system does not always mesh well with the Native worldview, and new approaches are being devised (p. 37). Their silence about us: The absence of Alaska Natives in curriculum. She indicates that in the late 1960s Alaska was viewed by the BIA as a major educational problem area, second only to the Navajo Reservation. With only 626,932 people spread over 586,402 square miles, Alaska has one of the lowest population densities in the world, with just a little over one person per square mile. Alaska Eskimo education. Fairbanks, AK: Alaska Native Language Center. It appropriated an annual "civilizing" fund and initiated a program whereby the federal government contracted with religious groups to operate schools for American Indian childrenãa policy that continued to influence education in Alaska long after it was discontinued (DeJong, 1993). Others have attempted to explain away the Alaska oversight in their analyses, as Francis Prucha (1984) did when he stated that: Alaska NativesãIndians, Eskimos, and Aleutsãoffered unique problems [for the federal government], for they had never been fully encompassed in the federal policies and programs developed for the American Indians. Twenty years later, other reports were published that reinforced many of the national study's recommendations, including Indian Nations at Risk: An Educational Strategy for Action (Indian Nations at Risk Task Force, 1991), and The Final Report of the White House Conference on Indian Education (1992). The Commission was to accomplish its work while respecting Natives' unique traditions, cultures and special status as Alaska Natives . • The number of American Indian/Alaska Native students enrolled in colleges and universities more than doubled in the past 30 years, along with the number of associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s ... federal Indian boarding school. 1892 Captain Richard Pratt declares it necessary to “Kill the Indian … Unspoken: America’s Native American Boarding Schools focuses on the history and brutality of American boarding schools that tried to "kill the Indian" in Native … Federal involvement with Alaska Native education continues to the present day through a variety of government programs. To use this land and invest this money in ways that would collectively benefit the Native community, 12 regional Native profit-making corporations were established that coincided with the various cultural and linguistic regions of Alaska. there were few communities in which students attended separate schools on the basis of race), many of the other negative consequences of the dual system continued (e.g. Fairbanks, AK: College of Rural Alaska, Center for Cross-Cultural Studies. Rural Regional Center and Road System/Marine Highway Schools: The elementary and secondary schools in the larger rural communities (Barrow, Bethel, Kotzebue, Nome, etc.) These events have also brought to the surface many of the dilemmas and contradictions in American Indian and Alaska Native educational policy. Alaskan Native education: History and adaptation in the new millennium. The lack of documentation about schooling in Alaska's rural areas makes it difficult to really understand whether or not there were any significant differences in schools operated by the BIA as compared to those operated by the territory. Continuing debates about boundaries between state and federal governments, laws, and judicial decisions relative to Alaska Native people were pivotal in the decision that led to the development of a joint federal-state commission in 1990 to help untangle the ambiguous relationships between Alaska Natives and the various layers of government. There was in fact no comprehensive effort to remedy this problem by the state or federal governments until a lawsuit was filed against the State of Alaska in 1974. The current status of schooling in Alaska is briefly described. Many of the treaties were not honored by the United States government, and this betrayal inhibited further relationships. 1. ), Cross-Cultural Issues in Alaskan Education (pp. Holst, S. (1999). The legislation included a pair of laws. (Smetzer, 2000). Despite problems inherent in the studies, the U.S. Congress responded to some of the areas of concern identified, and in 1972 passed the Indian Education Act which was directed at meeting the needs of American Indians and Alaska Native students in public schools where two-thirds of children were then enrolled. Transfer policy was based on population shifts, the need for integration of Native children and antidiscrimination laws, as well as the territory's ability to assume the costs (Case, 1984, p. 202). In 1971, the Alaska State legislature attempted to attend to the chaos in Alaska's rural schools by making the Alaska State-Operated School System an independent agency with responsibility for rural schools. The Indian Boarding School Policy was implemented by the federal government to strip American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) children of their Indigenous identities, beliefs, and languages. (pp. During this time period, one of the primary responses of the federal government to the "problems of Indian education" continued to be the establishment of task forces and commissions. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 represented the first major involvement of the federal government in education for groups of children beyond American Indians and Alaska Natives. Today there are over 120 small high schools in Alaska villages, nearly all operated by the REAA in which they are located. The population of Alaska in 2000 was 626,932 people, nearly 103,000 of aboriginal ancestryãEskimos, Indians, and Aleuts, who collectively refer to themselves as Alaska Natives. When Congress created the Commission, it was directed to conduct a comprehensive study of the social and economic status of Alaska Natives and the effectiveness of the policies and programs of the United States and of the State of Alaska that affect Alaska Natives. Included in these Native-sponsored educational initiatives are the following: At the same time, along with Alaska's young history of bottom-up school reform, there is a parallel agenda set primarily by the State Legislatureãand augmented by state and district educational agenciesãthat could lead to competition with the reform efforts cited above. The next night a new tale would not begin until the young listeners could repeat the story heard the night before. (KCAW Photo/Snider) In Sitka, there’s a unique piece of local architectural history hiding in plain sight. Of these, only five were contracted to Native governments in 1983" (Case, 1984, p. 207). "The audience was expected to respond during pauses with •hmmm, hmmm' . Taken to extremes: Education in the far north. (1992). Its expanded services included not only education, but medical services, the Reindeer Service (i.e. Napoleon, H. (1991). Fairbanks, AK: University of Alaska Fairbanks, Center for Northern Educational Research. We do know that Russian explorers, fur traders and missionaries had been in the country since the early 1700s, and we know that the territory was sparsely settled by groups of indigenous people whose languages and cultures varied significantly. This isn't something new to Natives. Fellow Yup'ik, Harold Napoleon (1991), provides examples of the discontinuities that exist between traditional and contemporary approaches to teaching and learning, through his insightful and powerful writing in Yuuyaraq: The Way of the Human Being. 2. In M. Apple (Ed. Literacy programs flourished, especially in the Aleutians, and many Aleut people became sophisticated readers and writers in both the Russian and the Aleut languages (Dauenhauer, 1982, Getches, 1977). A strict "English-Only" policy governed all language and curriculum decisions. Within months, staff had been hired and five task forces had been named to gather information on economics, education, governance, health, social and cultural issues. This has been a theme throughout the history of reforms in the state, and it continues today as the state looks to the "Lower 48" for quick-fix solutions to long-standing schooling challenges while, concurrently, newly-formed groups of Alaska Native educators attempt to forge alternative paths of educational reform by building on the past and the wisdom of their elders. Law and Alaska Native education: The influence of federal and state legislation upon education of rural Alaska Natives. Case points out that not until 1932, though, did it appear "obvious to the Department of the Interior Solicitor that congressional acts and appropriations for the benefit of Alaska Natives, as well as the court decisions relating to them, placed Alaska Natives in substantially the same position as other Native Americans" (Case, 1984, p. 197). 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