Hunting activities were determined by the seasonal availability of local resources. Tlingit people continue to have a great understanding of the environment. The techniques used to gather food have changed but subsistence hunting and fishing continue to be important today.
Although many needs are now met with commercially produced plant products, Tlingit people continue to gather plants for nutritious food, herbal medicine and to create cultural treasures. Tlingits believe everything has a spirit. Respect and thanks are expressed when gathering what nature provides.
Using red and yellow cedar trees they made their homes, canoes, clothing, tools, dishes, baskets and monument poles. Today, Tlingit and Haida people continue these traditions, holding deep respect for the cedar and the gifts that it provides to sustain and enrich peoples' lives.
The book, Tale of an Alaska Whale, tells a story of the origin of the killer whale and is also known as Naatsilanei. Listening to the story, as read from a book or told by a culture bearer or storyteller, is the basis for the unit. Viewing a video of a storyteller adds another dimension to the experience and provides opportunities for comparison activities. Guided reading (for older students), retelling the story and writing a story extension are also part of the unit.
The book, How Raven Stole the Sun is one version of how light was brought to the world. Listening to this story is necessary before introducing other activities in the unit. Viewing a video version of the story provides opportunities for comparison activities. Guided reading (for older students), retelling the story, studying the setting and writing additional "Raven as Trickster" stories are also part of the unit.
For hundreds of years, the ocean and the forest have provided life sustaining resources for the Haida people of Southeast Alaska. Using red and yellow cedar trees they made their homes, canoes, clothing, tools, dishes, baskets and monument poles.
Canoes represent unity and teamwork, strength training and health, as well as being a sophisticated art form and symbol of cultural identity. In this unit students learn what makes objects move and understand how they move. Central understandings include the concepts of friction, gravity, force, and the movement of sound waves.
In this unit, students study the life and work of the remarkable Elizabeth Peratrovich, civil rights champion of Alaska. They learn about the importance of the Alaska Native Brotherhood (ANB) and the Alaska Native Sisterhood (ANS), and how these organizations continue to promote civil rights for everyone. The rich historical context of events in the 1940s provides the backdrop for research and discussions contained in unit activities.
The first high tide in May brings the celebration of returning hooligan, with seagulls, seals and seal lions, eagles, ravens, crows and people all joining in this welcoming of spring. Students learn the cultural and ecological rules to guarantee the return of this valuable food source in this unit.
Herring may not be a primary food source to Tlingit people; but those foods that we are so dependent on use herring as their primary food. Herring help teach us to respect all life and recognize how we are all linked to one another.
The forest in Southeast Alaska is a Sitka Spruce/Western Hemlock rainforest. Historically, Tlingit people had many uses for hemlock trees. The rough, reddish brown bark is used for tanning hides and producing the black dye for Chilkat Robes.
Canoes were the primary mode of transportation used by the people of Southeast Alaska for hundreds of years. Tlingit people use canoes and other watercraft to support their coastal lifestyle, to gather resources, and for basic transportation.