Trade in precontact Alaska

Activity Suggestions Day 2


1.   Students work briefly in their culture groups to perfect their presentations. Remind students to compare their list of goods with those of their trading partners. Remember that if a trading partner already has plenty of seal oil, he or she might not want more - unless he could be convinced that his other trading partner wanted some. Each group then makes a "sales pitch," lasting no more than five minutes, to its prospective trading partner.

2.   After all presentations, lead the class in a discussion about which groups were effective and why. Which groups seemed to have the most to sell? Without money, how would people decide how much to trade for an item? Which groups had the easiest travel routes? How similar were the resources each group had available? How does this exercise relate to trade today?

3.   (Optional) You might design a paper-based evaluation of student achievement.  Possible items you might test for include:

a.   Knowledge of Alaska’s geography

b.   Knowledge of the trade goods available to various Alaska Native groups

c.    Understanding of some of the trade routes

d.   Understanding of the challenges in pre-contact trade in Alaska

e.   Understanding of trade and its relationship to supply and demand, shortage, voluntarism, and lack of currency

4.   Explain to students that, starting in the late 1700s, Alaska Natives expanded their trade routes to include Europeans and Americans, and through them, Hawaiians and Asians.