Alaska's Cultures

Enduring Understandings and Essential Questions

Unit 1: Traditional Alaska Native Cultures

Enduring Understandings Essential Questions
  1. Understanding the nature of culture as a construct will promote the ability to reflect on cultural norms as windows into the customs, beliefs, and practices of groups that are different than those experienced by the viewer.
  2. Cultural groups develop within the dimensions of time and space and the use of key resources within these dimensions produces cycles and patterns of life within that culture.
  3. Present day Alaska was home to multiple cultural groups who developed sophisticated societies prior to contact with the European people. Reflecting on the stories and literature of a cultural group provides a first person account of how that society viewed the world.
  1. How do I understand the norms and constructs of my culture?
    How will I continue to develop my understanding of my culture?
    How will I grow and learn in my understanding of other cultures?

  2. How closely connected are the traditional Alaska Native cultures to the geographic cycles of weather, plants, animals, fish, etc. How are Alaskan cultures connected to these cycles today?



Unit 2: Contact and Change

Enduring Understandings Essential Questions
  1. When Alaska Native cultures made contact with Western cultures, protection of their land became an on-going issue.
  2. After contact with Western cultures, Alaska Native cultures gradually developed new political organizations.
  3. Western education has been a mixed legacy for Alaska Native cultures i.e., it has been both an opportunity and a means of assimilation.
  4. The transformation of the health care system by Alaska Natives illustrates the integration of traditional and modern cultural practices.
  1. When different cultures have different understandings about land ownership, what is the most fair and reasonable way to resolve those differences?
  2. How do we better understand the difference between intended and unintended consequences of individual and organizational action and new technologies?
  3. What is the place of the original societies and cultures within a country that has become dominated by immigrant cultures?



Unit 3: Voices Of Contemporary Alaska Natives

Enduring Understandings Essential Questions
  1. Alaska Native cultures have changed to adjust to today's world and to contemporary society.
  2. Alaska Natives are economic and cultural leaders in the State today.
  3. Alaska Natives exercise self-determination and sovereignty by pursuing the interests of their communities and by trying to influence federal and state policies.
  4. Beliefs, customs, knowledge and values that are connected to traditional Alaska Native cultures can be heard in the voices of Alaska Natives today. Alaska Native leaders are a diverse group who are committed to the development of Alaska Native cultures and people.
  1. How can we better understand the changes in Alaska Native cultures as complex, sometimes contradictory, sometimes surprising in their resolution? How can we make the process of learning about Alaska Native cultural change more thoughtful?
  2. In what ways have Alaska Native cultures received new ideas and tools and integrated, modified, and reshaped these ideas and tools into their cultures?
  3. How are ideas and tools from Alaska Native cultures benefiting the larger American and Alaskan cultures?