Qayaqs and Canoes

Traditional Indigenous Watercraft of Alaska

Traditional Indigenous Watercraft of Alaska

From the Introduction to Qayaqs and Canoes: Native Ways of Knowing by Jan Steinbright, Alaska Native Heritage Center, 2001:

Alaska Natives are people of the tides, the rivers, and the sea: maritime people. The salt and fresh waters brought food and supplies to them and provided thoroughfares for travel by boat. For centuries, their ancestors constructed watercraft to meet the moods and challenges of the southeastern coastal passages, the open oceans of the southwest and west, and the swift rivers of the Interior and north.

Before European contact, skin-covered kayaks and open angyapiks and umiaks were used in Alaska by all of the northern groups: the Aleuts [Unangax] of the Aleutian Chain; the Alutiiqs [Sugpiat] of Kodiak Island archipelago, Prince William Sound and outer Kenai Peninsula; the Iñupiat; Central Yup'ik; Siberian Yupik and Cup'ik.

In the Interior, bark- and skin-covered canoes answered the need for water transportation. Dugout canoes carved from a single log were the main mode of transportation in southeast Alaska.

Learn about and see these traditional watercraft, all created at the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage during the summer of 2000 as part of a special project funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, Save America's Treasures, and Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Athabascan Birch Bark Canoes

Athabascan Birch Bark Canoes

               The Athabascan birch bark hunting canoe was essential for pursuing animals in rivers and lakes in Alaska's interior until about 50 years ago, when it was replaced with aluminum models. It was also an important means of summer transportation. Its small size (one-person canoes are about 12 1/2 feet long) and light weight (25 to 35 pounds) made it possible for one person to carry it from lake to lake.

In the old days, people also made large cargo-carrying canoes, able to carry a family, their goods, and their dogs.

The canoe pictured above has a wooden frame covered with birch bark. Spruce roots hold the bark to the frame, and spruce pitch seals the boat, making it watertight. Grass or moss is gathered for cushions. This is generally called a "kayak-form canoe" and is still used by the Gwich'in Athabascan people in the Chalkyitsik area of Alaska. Its maker, David Salmon, named it "Tryah," meaning "Otter."

David remembered, "When I was a little boy, about seven or eight years old, I sit behind my father in the birch bark canoe and we go up-stream from the village, go up ten miles, look around hunting. We'd come back down in half the time. In that time he used arrow, used arrow for ducks. . . . In 1922, I was about ten years old. And I helped my father. I always helped my father to hold a stick here, hold this there. He told me to do this. That's Athabascan way of teaching the children about the canoe, you know."

Athabascan canoes are easily paddled over long distances. Their low profile allows hunters to get close to birds and animals. The bark canoe had another advantage: it could be quickly mended using materials from the woods. Dena'ina elder Moses Paul, who built the canoe pictured here, explained,

"If the canoe needed patching, you just stop anywhere, build a fire, melt down the pitch and patch it up there and go."

This canoe was based on the descriptions and instructions of Moses's father and grandfather. He named it "Chadaq Baqee," meaning "Grandfather's Canoe."

Birch bark canoes were the specialties of the Athabascan speakers, or Dene. They historically lived in Alaska's interior where lakes and rivers were both plentiful and the easiest travel routes. In this map, Alaska's eleven Athabascan languages are represented in reds and pinks. The languages share sound systems and grammatic features, but are so different from each other that they cannot be understood across language boundaries.

Alaska's interior is in what is called the "boreal forest," a forest made up primarily of birch, aspen, alder, willow, and cottonwood trees. The undergrowth consists of berry bushes and a variety of deciduous shrubs that make good browse for moose. Most of the land is hilly or mountainous with many lakes, ponds, and rivers. The climate is continental, reaching minus 60 degrees (Fahrenheit) and lower, and highs during the summer into the 90s. Summer lightening storms set off forest fires that periodically strip the landscape of trees, providing even better browse for moose.

Tom O'Brien, who helped David Salmon build the Chadaq Baqee canoe, explained, "The bark is cut from the trees in the spring of the year and rolled up. . . . The frame is covered with three pieces of birch bark which form the bottom, the port and starboard sides."

Debbie Charlie, the sister of Cindy (pictured here), explained,

"When you find the birch, you want some that doesn't have knots in it. It's the same for the baskets and the canoes. If the bark has knots, it's really hard to pull the bark away from the tree and there are holes in the bark. You take the bark in the spring, when the sap begins to run."

The bark is sewn together with split spruce root, pulled taught, and sewn to the gunwales with a wrapping of spruce root. The roots are dyed to enhance the canoe's beauty.

Birch bark has also been used for hundreds of years to make containers, such as this bucket (made by Dorothy Joseph). Baskets, like canoes, are an art form that show a mastery of both technique and aesthetics.

Kayaks/Qayat/Iqyan/Iqyas/Baidarkas

Kayaks/Qayat/Iqyan/Iqyas/Baidarkas

A kayak (spelled in all four Eskimo languages as "qayaq", "iqyax" in Unangax, also known as a "baidarka" from a Russian loan word in Unangax and Sugpiaq regions) is made of driftwood from the beach, covered with the skin of a sea mammal, and sewn with sinew from another animal. The hunter wears clothing made from the intestines of a seal or bear, puts on a hat of bent driftwood that sports sea lion whiskers, ivory, and feathers, and steps into the boat. He becomes one with the boat, the water, and the animals of the sea.

Kayaks were made and used along Alaska's northern, western, and southwestern coasts, the areas inhabited by Esk-Aleut speaking people -- the Iñupiat, Yupiit, Alutiiq/Sugpiat, and Unangan (Aleuts). They are represented on this map by blues and light green.

Under the guidance of 83 year-old Frank Andrew, family members built this Caninermiut style Yup'ik qayaq, the type used in the Kwigillingok and Kipnuk regions, using only traditional measurements and practices. There are teeth marks in the wood of the circular hatch opening, made by the builders as they bent and curved the driftwood into shape.

The frame is carved from curve-grained white spruce driftwood stumps. It is covered with bearded seal skin, a hide that resists water, and is waterproofed with seal oil. Seams are caulked with a special moss-seal oil compound.

The qayaq is held together with sinew lashings and wooden pegs, making the craft flexible in the water.

The eagle crest painted on this qayaq represents the Andrew family, which has formed an organization called Qayanek, dedicated to research and building kayaks.

These are the members of the Andrews family and founders of Qayanek, in 2000: Frank Andrew, son Noah and grandsons Noah Jr., Troy, and Ethan Wilkinson. Before coming to Anchorage to work on their qayaq, they assembled the frame in Kwigillingok, then took it apart and brought it to Anchorage for reassembly. Because no trees grow on the tundra, the frame had to be built entirely of driftwood. An essential  task is to find a  stump from the portion of the tree where the trunk and roots meet; this has the proper curve for the qayaq's bow.

Noah Andrews and his brother-in-law Bill Wilkinson collect driftwood along the Kuskokwim River for the curved bow and stern pieces that are so critical for strength in constructing the frame of the qayaq.

It took five seal skins to cover the qayaq. The Andrews family harvested and prepared the skins in Kwigillingok before coming to Anchorage to construct the qayaq.

In order to sew the skins into a waterproof cover, the Yup'ik people devised two special types of thread made from caribou sinew. Since caribou are not indigenous to the Kwigillingok area, the sinew was obtained through trade with people further inland.

Mary Ann Wilkinson, Frank Andrews' daughter, explained, "We sew the skins together using a special stitch. You don't pull it tight because if you pull it tight, when it dries up it will be too tight. Then after you sew it, in and out, you reverse it and you put grass in there and make a whipstitch. The grass soaks up water and makes the seam waterproof. . . . We start sewing in the morning and sew all day and all night. We can't let it sit overnight."

The Central Yup'ik people considered a qayaq the owner's most prized possession. It is fast and maneuverable, seaworthy, light, and strong. It was used for transportation, hunting, and, in an emergency, shelter.

The average qayaq length is 15 feet, but each was tailored to fit its owner. The frame of this qayaq, made by Phillip Moses of Tooksook Bay, is made from spruce wood and covered with seal skin. Five women, using sinew thread, sewed the seal hides over the frame. The craft can support 1000 pounds, even though it weighs less than 70 pounds

Phillip used his arms and hands as the units of measurement for this boat. As a young boy, he had learned the art of qayaq construction from his father and grandfather in the qasgiq (men's large sod house).

Master boat builder Phillip Moses, on the left in this photo, confers with his hunting partner David Alirkar. They are from the village of Toksook Bay in western Alaska.

Phillip remembered, "Some people told stories of kayaks and kayaking. They would tell of trips. The stories I heard are from time immemorial. Since the kayak has been with the Yup'ik peoples from those ancestors of ours, our stories and legends would tell of kayaks. They made sure no one was without a kayak and it was a practice to make the grandchildren kayaks. It was even a tradition among the women to make kayaks."

This close-up of the bow of the Toksook Bay qayaq shows a distinctive shape, slightly different from the Caninermiut qayaq that was built just 50 miles away. Every seasoned hunter could recognize where another hunter came from by his boat's silhouette. Central Yup'ik qayaqs, like the two shown here, were constructed with a hole in the bow which could be used as a hand-hold to haul the craft off the sea ice or onto a qayaq sled.

Men and women worked together to cut and tack the skins over the qayaq frame. Phillip Moses had this to say about the covering skins:

"For kayak skins, if they didn't have skins from the previous year they would use skins from two-year-old bearded seals (two-year-old seals have hardly any fur on them) because they were thick skinned. They would scrape the hair off when they used those skins . . . . Also the less fortunate would use the skins of walrus. They would make the skin thinner and use them for kayak skins. Those who just didn't have skins would help each other and complete the kayaks."

Grass mats such as the one at the left that Maria Moses of Toksook Bay is weaving lined the bottom of the boat. This served several purposes: it provided insulation, holding in the kayaker's body heat, it made for a softer cushion than the wood itself, and it served as a wick, drawing up moisture so the qayaq would not become waterlogged.

Hunting on the open sea is the most dangerous and demanding form of hunting practiced by human beings. It requires navigational skills, physical prowess, and knowledge of animal behavior.

This Sugpiaq (Alutiiq) qayaq, also called a "baidarka" after a Russian loan word, was built by Gregor Welpton of Juneau and Nick Tanape Sr. of Nanwalek. It is 17 feet long and can carry 200 pounds in addition to the hunter and his equipment.

Like the other qayaqs that were built as part of the 2000 Qayaqs and Canoes project, this baidarka was held together with pegs and lashings. Because these swell in water, they are stronger than metal nails would be. In addition, the rawhide and sinew lashings make the craft flexible in the water.

These curved knives, sinew shuttle, and other wood working tools belong to boat builder Gregor Welpton. Each was hand-made for a specific part of the process of fashioning the qayaq.

A distinguishing feature of Sugpiaq boats is the upswept forked bow, similar to, but more accentuated than, the Unangax uluxtax's bow. The lower part serves as a cutwater and the upper flotation piece allows the boat to be more maneuverable in rough seas. Nick Tanape commented,

"It helps when you're out there in the rough water. It definitely works. I don't know whose idea it was, but you would have to be very smart to figure that out. They traveled in very rough seas out here. I've been in a boat where a forty- or fifty-foot boat couldn't travel where our people traveled in their fifteen- to sixteen-foot kayaks. They landed on the rocks on the beach with no problem. The bigger boats would just sink."

Because the Sugpiaq people have been using wooden, aluminum, and fiberglass boats for several generations, Nick and Gregor had difficulty finding experienced skin sewers to cover the qayaq. They worked with Grace Harrod, a Cup'ik woman from Mekoryuk, who in turn taught Alutiiq artist June Simeonoff Pardue the waterproof stitch. This consists of a blind stitch on what becomes the outside of the skin and a reinforcing whipstitch on the inside.

June recalled, "The men used to be the ones who would sew their own boats because then their life was in their own hands."

Sealskin is translucent. This view from inside a qayaq is similar to one that hundreds of generations of Yup'ik, Unangax, Inupiaq, and Sugpiaq children experienced, as they rode inside their fathers' qayaqs. Elders recall watching the sea splash against the side of the qayaq as they were transported along Alaska's coast.

In the traditional Unangax culture, the iqyax (kayak) was a cornerstone of survival. Hunting on the open sea was extremely demanding and required great skill. The hunter needed to be an expert marksman with the harpoon and dart, know how to navigate, and understand animal behavior.

This two-hatch kayak, called an uluxtax, was built by Michael Livingston, who began constructing Unangax-style watercraft more than 20 years ago as an apprentice to master boat-builders Phil Tutiakoff and Bill Cherapanoff in Unalaska.

Like Sugpiaq bows, iqyax and uluxtax bows were split to slice the water at the same time they offered stability -- but the designs were different.

Sugpiaq oral tradition holds that the Unangax sterns were also distinctive in being cinched closed with a drawstring. This fact played a crucial part during a raid by the Unangax on their Sugpiaq neighbors. According to the descendants of the defenders, their ancestors found hidden iqyan in the grass, pulled open the drawstrings, and watched as the Unangax fled to sea after their raid, not realizing that their craft would soon fill with water and sink.

This old photograph of the town of Unalaska on Unalaska Island -- the largest community in the Aleutian Chain -- shows the mountainous terrain, treeless landscape, and ample shoreline that characterize the homeland of the Unangax people.

This engraving, made by artist John Webber after returning from a voyage with Captain James Cook, shows two kinds of skin-covered boats that were common in the 18th century Aleutian Islands: the iqyax and the two-hatch uluxtax. The Russians, who colonized the Aleutian Islands beginning in the mid-1700s, commissioned a third type of boat which had three hatches. This allowed two Unangax men to paddle the boat, while a Russian priest or company man sat in the middle hole.

Boat builder Michael Livingston explained, "Aleut kayaks were not really cargo ships. They were more like racing hulls. . . . Their purpose was for getting there quickly, making the kill, and returning to shore. They were hunting machines, hunting tools."

His uluxtax has a wooden frame made primarily of spruce. The pieces were lashed together without metal. In the past, Mike has covered his kayaks with canvas or nylon, but for this special project he used sea lion hides from St. Paul Island.

Mike continued, "three hundred years ago, a hundred percent of the people that lived in Aleut territory knew about baidarkas. Every man, woman and child knew how important they were. They knew basically how they were made, and they knew basically how the skins were sewn on. Today, probably only on-tenth of one percent of the people that live in Aleut territory really know how to make baidarkas."

Seal intestine or, as shown here, bear gut, was an essential part of every kayaker's hunting kit, whether in the far north or the Aleutian Islands. The gut was cleaned, split, dried, and then sewn into waterproof parkas, like the one seen in the photograph of Michael Livingston above. The parkas (called imarniin in Central Yup'ik) were designed with a hood at the top and a drawstring along the bottom edge. This allowed the hunter to tie the parka around the wooden ring that formed the opening of the kayak, making a waterproof seal that kept him dry, even in the highest seas.

The parkas were not only practical; they also had a spiritual dimension. Throughout coastal Alaska, shamans wore these parkas in ceremonies during which they communicated with the spirits of the animals that allowed human survival in the rugged environment.

Open Skin Boats

Open Skin Boats

Skin boats have remarkable advantages over metal or wooden craft because the hulls are light weight, simple to use, easy to repair and highly shock resistant. The flawless design enabled the St. Lawrence Island (also sometimes called "Siberian") Yupik people to successfully live off the Bering Sea for millennia. The design is so perfectly suited to the environment and task of hunting whales and walrus that these boats are still used today. In fact, the village of Gambell boasts a fleet of 24 angyapiks that are used in whale hunting.

This angyapik weighs less than 500 pounds but because of its frame constructions, which allows flexibility in ocean water, it can carry a full hunting crew and their equipment plus more than three tons of meat.

To download detailed information about Inupiaq and St. Lawrence Island whaling, go to http://www.alaskool.org/projects/traditionalife/WhalingAWOL/WHALING-English.html.

The angyapik is a specialty of the people of St. Lawrence Island. The related and similar umiaq is the Iñupiaq version that serves the same purposes -- as a whaling and hunting boat, and for transporting people and goods.

St. Lawrence Island and the Iñupiaq area are represented on the map by light blue and a slightly darker shade, to indicate that, though related, the languages are distinct from each other.

Traditionally, the angyapik's frame would have been entirely of driftwood. However, for this project, the crew bought some lumber, using driftwood only for the curve of the bow.

The process took two and a half weeks, in addition to five days of soaking the hides and a full day to cover the boat with them.

The St. Lawrence Islanders use a rectangular sail -- made out of canvas today -- when pursuing whales, in contrast to most of the mainland Inupiat, who paddle their boats.

Leonard Apangalook, Sr., master boatbuilder and whaling captain, explained, "This particular model was designed after the Boston Whaler. In the mid-1800s, when the commercial whalers went up the Bering Straits, they brought with them the Boston Whaler, a wooden boat. They traded with our people for baleen and provided some of these whaling boats, but they were so heavy, being made out of wood. So our people designed this hide boat. . . . Prior to this era, we also had a boat covered with walrus hide, and if I were to make one of those, it would be identical to the ones we have up north on the mainland like at Point Barrow and Point Hope."

Leonard Apangalook Sr. (Piitkuk) and his son Ronald from Gambell on St. Lawrence Island headed the crew that constructed this angyapik for the Alaska Native Heritage Center in 2000. They are both experienced whalers who have made and used these boats their entire lives.

Ronald Apangalook, 31 at the time, explained, "I started whaling when I was seven years old with my grandfather. My dad was the striker at the time. In 1979, my dad became a captain. When I was eighteen I struck a whale. I was the striker for my dad's crew."

The most crucial phase of boat construction is the hide preparation and splitting. Only experienced women have the skill to split walrus hides. After the hides are scraped, split, and stretched to their fullest size, they are set out to dry. They are then sewn onto the frame -- an extremely strenuous activity -- with a special stitch that creates a watertight boat.

In this photo, the men are draping the heavy, wet walrus hide over the frame in preparation for cutting it to shape and sewing the pieces together. The cover is then lashed to the frame using rawhide, and nowadays is covered with silicone and sealant.

The Iñupiat, like the St. Lawrence Island Yupiget, cover their whaling and traveling boats, called umiat, with skins. This photograph, taken about 1900, shows that the traditional knowledge has continued to be passed down and practiced.

This contemporary whaling crew consists of six people. Note the sea ice to both the left and right of the boat as the crew paddles through the lead.

This diagram shows the construction of the umiaq frame and skin covering:

  1. quliik: gunwales
  2. iksuġaq: seat; 2a quŋialik: seat closest to the bow
  3. tulimaa: rib
  4. niutaq: stern or bow
  5. aqu: stern
  6. sivu: bow
  7. qiglu: bow deck
  8. kuyaaq: keel
  9. akkuk: bottom formers
  10. tuurvik: fore or aft framing member to which skin is lashed; 10a tugrun: skin's lashing topes
  11. kilu: seam
  12. amiq: skin covering; amiqsut: "they are sewing skins for a boat"
  13. anŋun: pitch (caulking) with caribou fat and hot seal oil
  14. uvaagiitkutaa: stabilizer for boat frame

The whaling crew's toolkit includes both weapons and floats, such as this one made of an inflated seal skin. Leonard explained,

"We're mandated by the International Whaling Commission to use our traditional harpoons. There is a bomb attached to the harpoon gun. This tool was designed in the late 1800s by the commercial whalers and of course, we started using that too. There's a harpoon iron with a line attached to it with a couple of floats attached to the line. The gun itself sits on top of the harpoon. When you strike a whale, the harpoon is attached along with the line and floats. The gun injects into the whale a time-delayed bomb and the bomb explodes inside the whale. Normally, with a good shot, it's an instant kill after the initial strike."

Speaking of whaling on St. Lawrence Island, Leonard Apangalook said, "Traditionally they had ceremonies at whaling time, but that was before my time. I have read about them and seen some movies of them, but we don't practice any of these ceremonies any more."

In contrast, the town of Barrow still carries on the tradition of Nalukataq every summer after a successful whaling season, as seen here during the celebration of 2002. Guests bring their own chairs and dishes, and feast on whale meat and blubber, as well as duck soup and other delicacies.

The entire town of Barrow is invited to Nalukataq as guests of the whaling captains who succeeded in landing whales.  Children play games and both young people and adults participate in the blanket toss demonstrating their skills and enjoying themselves.

Nalukataq feeds guests and honors the successful whaling captains, but, most importantly, honors the whales who gave themselves to the community.

Dug-out canoes

Dug-out canoes

This 20-foot red cedar Haida-style canoe, named "Against the Wind," is fully functional with paddles representing the Eyak, Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska. This boat was the first in more than 100 years to have been built following the traditional style.

Without blueprints, squares, levels, compasses, or curves, the complex shapes of the bow and stern were chopped out with an adze so the canoe would cut the water cleanly. The sea mammal hunters, halibut fishermen, and traders needed a vessel that would glide swiftly and noiselessly through the water.

Long ago, when guests arrived in ocean-going canoes like this one, they announced themselves in song, and host villagers answered them with another song, followed by dancing, feasting, and speeches.

The Haida people have historically lived in the dark purple area of the map -- part of which is in Alaska, but most of which is in British Columbia, Canada. Similar canoes were used by the Eyak (yellow on the map), Tlingit (orange), and Tsimshian (green), all in Southeast Alaska. Although the languages of these people were unrelated to each other, their material culture and social structure were similar.

The canoes were so seaworthy that they were used not just for interisland voyages to visit relatives or allies, but also to wage war and to engage in trade missions over hundreds of miles. In fact, dugout canoes plied the waters between Southeast Alaska and Kodiak Island in the days before the coming of Europeans.

Master boat builder Wayne Price (Ian.xi) an Eagle Wooshkeetaan Tlingit who was brought up in Haines, Alaska, is shown here with a model of his boat. Behind him is his apprentice, Vanessa Pazar. "Against the Wind" was the fifth dugout canoe Wayne had built. He explained,

"Every log I've been on is very different. . . . I went to Wrangell and actually found out where the old-timers had picked their trees from. I went and I picked a tree. . . . I'm still learning about the dugout canoe. . . .

"[Vanessa] didn't know anything about carving a canoe, but I knew she was a real hard worker. . . . We had ten to twelve hours a day on a regular basis and we only had two days off in sixty days."

Vanessa (Kaalkeis', an Eagle Kaagwaantaan) noted, "When I think of the traditional ways, sometimes I just have to sit back and go, 'Whoa, they did this with stone tools.' . . . I'm the first female canoe carver for this style and I get to see thousands of females come to this place every day and every one of them is gung-ho for it. So I know there is going to be some future women canoe carvers out there."

Wayne explained the canoe-building process, after the blessing of the log: "The first cut I made was the very bottom cut. . . . We started chopping on her and first thing we noticed is that the blades were a lot tougher than the adze handles. We smashed four or five handles in the first week."

After fashioning the outside shape, Wayne and Vanessa began the eight-day process of hollowing out the log. Then came the steaming to expand the gunwales from the round shape of the log. They filled the boat with salt water and placed hot lava rocks inside to make steam. Wayne noted, "George Bennett brought about a thousand pounds of lava rocks from Sitka for the steaming."

This process expanded the canoe's width eight inches, flattened the bottom, and increased its height at the bow and stern by six inches.

The entire surface of the boat was finished by hand. This photo shows Wayne's even adze marks. This distinctive texture is a hallmark of the dugout canoes of Southeast Alaska and the British Columbia coast.

The finished boat, carved from a log donated by Sealaska Corporation, now hangs -- upside down to preserve its shape -- in the Alaska Native Heritage Center's foyer. It was painted traditional colors, red and black. During the summer of 2000, it was launched into the waters of Kachemak Bay, a triumphant end to a long process that extended from finding the log to its inaugural sail.

National and Alaska Standards

National and Alaska Standards

National Geography Standards

NSS-G.K-12.4: As a result of activities in Grades K-12, all students should:

  • Understand the characteristics, distribution, and complexity of Earth's cultural mosaics.
  • Understand the patterns and networks of economic interdendence on Earth's surface.

NSS-G.K-12.5: As a result of activities in Grades K-12, all students should:

  • Understand how physical systems affect human systems.
  • Understand the changes that occur in the meaning, use, distribution, and importance of resources.

Alaska Geography Standards

D: A student should understand the dynamic and be able to interpret spatial (geographic) characteristcs of human systems, including migration, movement, interactions of cultures, economic activities, settlement patterns, and political units in the state, nation, and world. A student who meets the content standard should:

  • Analyze how changes in technology, transportation, and communication impact social, cultural, economic, and political activity.

E. A student should understand and be able to evaluate how humans and phyusical environments interact. A student who meets the content standard should:

  • Understand how resources have been developed and used;
  • Determine the influence of human perceptions on resource utilization and the environment.

Alaska Cultural Standards

B. Culturally-knowledgeable students are able to build on the knowledge and skills of the local cultural community as a foundation from which to achieve personal and academic success throughout life. Students who meet this cultural standard are able to:

  • Acquire insights from other cultures without diminishing the integrity of their own.

C. Culturally-knowledgeable students are able to actively paerticipate in various cultural environments.  Students who meet this cultural standard are able to:

  • Perform subsistence activities in ways that are appropriate to local cultural traditions.
  • Enter into and function effectively in a variety of cultural settings.

D. Culturally-knowledgeable students are able to engage effectively in learning activities that are based on traditional ways of knowing and learning. Students who meet this cultural standard are able to:

  • Acquire in-depth cultural knowledge through active participation and meaningful interaction with Elders.
  • Identify and utilize appropriate sources of cultural knowledge to find solutions to everyday problems.

E. Culturally-knowledgeable students demonstrate an awareness and appreciation of the relationships and processes of interaction of all elements in the world around them. Students who meet his cultural standard are able to:

  • Understand the ecology and geography of the bioregion they inhabit.
  • Recognize how and why cultures change over time.