Source: University of Alaska, Anchorage
In this video adapted from the University of Alaska, Anchorage, visit the Cup'ik people of Chevak, Alaska, to learn about the interconnectedness of nature and their subsistence lifestyle. Listen to an elder speak about the importance of sharing experiences. Learn about the holistic view that everything in nature is connected by spirit, and observe as John Pingayak and the Alaska Native people of Chevak teach visitors to the village how to harvest from the environment: how to collect driftwood, dig for clams, set nets for salmon, and use grass as insulation.
The subsistence lifestyle of Alaska Native peoples keeps them intimately connected with the world around them. They live close to nature and harvest from the land and sea, which provide them with sustenance as well as resources for shelter, clothes, and handicrafts. They take part in the interdependent relationships of the natural world. The universe is honored and respected as a complex system in which everything—plants, animals, rivers, mountains, and even wind—is believed to possess spirit. This unifying life force provides a kinship among all aspects of nature. Resources are viewed as gifts and Alaska Native peoples honor nature through rituals, ceremonies, and art.
Science is a system of knowledge gained through study. Alaska Native science understands nature in the context of indigenous and subsistence lifestyles. Over thousands of years of observing, living, and interacting with nature, Alaska Native peoples have developed a strong understanding of their local environments. Practical knowledge about the natural world—its properties, patterns, and cycles—is a matter of survival. Using their traditional understanding about the environment, Alaska Native peoples are able to safely hunt, gather, travel, and manage their resources. Traditional ecological knowledge is a holistic approach to science that views the universe as a single interconnected system, incorporating observations of generations and Alaska Native culture and beliefs. Alaska Native science does not necessarily seek to explain nature, but rather gathers knowledge about how to coexist with nature.
The western approach to science is very different. Western scientists systematically isolate and study aspects of natural phenomenon, specializing in components of nature (such as in climatology, oceanography, or geology) and trying to understand the natural world objectively. They research testable explanations of natural phenomena by following an analytical process that includes asking questions, making observations, testing hypotheses, collecting and analyzing data, and drawing conclusions. The knowledge that has been gained through Western science is largely quantitative and objective; it is theoretically reproducible by other scientists. Western science explains nature using principles, laws, theories, and mathematics, but it does not include the supernatural component present in Alaska Native science.
Although the approaches are quite different, both Alaska Native and Western science practices have yielded a great storehouse of knowledge about the natural world. Both approaches are valid and can complement one another. For example, the visualization tools and satellite technologies of Western science provide detailed observations on a global scale, but such data has only been gathered for a relatively short time. Alternatively, traditional knowledge provides long-term, comprehensive observations focused on local environments and Arctic ecosystems. In an effort to better understand the current environmental changes in the Arctic, Alaska Native and Western scientists are combining forces. By integrating the strengths of both approaches, scientists can combine quantitative and qualitative expertise to gain valuable insight about climate change and its effect on the Arctic and the indigenous people that occupy it.
Academic standards correlations on Teachers' Domain use the Achievement Standards Network (ASN) database of state and national standards, provided to NSDL projects courtesy of JES & Co.
We assign reference terms to each statement within a standards document and to each media resource, and correlations are based upon matches of these terms for a given grade band. If a particular standards document of interest to you is not displayed yet, it most likely has not yet been processed by ASN or by Teachers' Domain. We will be adding social studies and arts correlations over the coming year, and also will be increasing the specificity of alignment.