AK Studies Webinar #1
The lecture by Kate Ringsmuth connected with Alaska Native Cultures and Issues by providing both history and a physical context in the lecture for all the questions addressed by the book. Specifically the article on education addressed the importance for Native Alaskan people to be especially aware of place. “In such economies, a highly ‘place-based’ educational system has evolved” (78). A knowledge of subtle changes in environment has always been crucial to a subsistence lifestyle. Through her extensive collection of slides Professor Ringsmuth demonstrated the range of places and people in Alaska as well as the history of migration. A number of times in the book, speakers referred to the 10,000 years that Native Alaskans have been on this land. I have used an article published recently about Beringia to help my students understand this concept. Beringia.docx
The surprises in the text included the idea of afterborns. People who were not initially shareholders can potentially become shareholders, depending on the policies created by the Native corporations (23). This generation has to work with previous generations to determine who makes policies that will affect the future. I was also interested in the idea of the introducing agriculture into a subsistence lifestyle and how that did not sound appealing (37). I had heard that Bethel had developed gardening strategies, because the permafrost had melted, but had not thought about how this impacted the system of subsistence. Finally I had not realized that the Anchorage West Coast International Inn was a Native corporation owned hotel near the airport which I had visited for various functions with AEA, our teacher union (47).
All of this information will provide me with the context to have more extensive discussions and background to lead the students in my AK Studies class. Many of these questions have arisen in the course of my first semester teaching the class. I appreciate that I have answers from Native people about questions concerning Native cultures and issues.