In Response to Paul Berg’s Article “The Future of Alaska Native Education”

I agree completely with Paul Berg’s argument. The Alaska Native peoples should be able to organize their own cirricula and plan their schools as they see fit. My question remains this: what concrete goals can we make towards involving the local Natives into their local schools and education systems? I understand that they need to make their own choices concerning their schools, but I also believe that they should be offered some outside guidance and not left to fend for themselves. However, it could be possible for them to collaborate with other indigenous educators, such as members of the Maori or Sami, who are teaching their own schools and can assist them with forming their own approach to education.

Having lived in Barrow in my early childhood, I found this article particularly interesting, and it reminds me of the Native cultural events that I took part in, even though I wasn’t Inupiaq myself. If interested, here is an excellent interview from KUAC with Edna MacLean, the author of the first comprehensive Inupiaq to English dictionary. In addition to discussing her work in interviewing elders and compiling the dictionary, she also comments on how she imagines Inupiaq language can be taught in village schools. It’s a fascinating interview and worth a listen for anyone who is interested in Alaskan languages or teaching in rural Alaska.

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