Reply from Alaska

442-lSince there were not enough time for Q&A in the Tokyo seminar, the speakers from Alaska replied to the questions which participatns asked in the questionnaire.

1. How do you reconcile the difference in speed between knowledge transfer by elders and societal changes?

This is a significant problem because the accelerating societal changes brought about by outside influences have disrupted the natural knowledge transfer processes between Elders and the younger generations. This breakdown is compounded by bureaucratic structures that seek short-term solutions to long-term problems that are cross-generational in nature, and thus often exacerbate the problems. Thus much of our effort has been focused on facilitating communication across the generation gap and getting Elders engaged in ways where they can bring their influence to bear on the educational processes in the schools and in the communities. (Ray Barnhardt)

To us it has become imperative that we speed up our efforts due to the negative social changes. (Tacuk)
2. How long does it take to conduct Yaaveskaniryaraq Project?

It usually takes one year, and the students continue their living it themselves. It is a lifelong learning process, though. When students learn, they usually apply it to their everyday living. (Tacuk)
3. Do you record elders� knowledge in a film?

443-lYes, we have recorded elders� knowledge on videotape. Our TV station has about 40 hours of elder recordings on videotape and another 20 hours on audiotape. There is an elder that hosts a radio talk show in the Yup段k language once a week. Teachers have used the recordings and some have been used in the Yaaaveskaniryaraq program. (Mike Martz)

Elder痴 knowledge is being recorded on video in many communities, including getting students in the schools involved in conducting interviews and producing documentaries of traditional knowledge and skills. See the following web sites for examples: and
(Ray Barnhardt)

4. What are the issues and problems in conducting the Yaaves program?

The travel and weather, elders are dying very fast, students are very busy, we are very busy, funding, and other problems, but even so we do it despite all these. (Tacuk)
5. What are you seeking as an ideal result by what you are doing?

The ideal result of this work will be when Native people are in a position to make all the political and professional decisions that impact their communities and the education of their children. (Ray Barnhardt)
6. Better people, reinstituting our good values (which are sorely needed in today痴 society), overall better living socially. (Tacuk)
7. If there is a goal in 兎ducation�, what is the goal for you?

The over-arching goal of this work is to put control of education back in the hands of the people for whom it is intended � in this case, the Native people whose traditional knowledge systems are still intact and have an adaptive integrity of their own, but have been largely ignored by the schools for the past 100 years. (Ray Barnhardt)

Native education痴 goal is good human beings. (Tacuk)
8. Why do the youth leave villages?

While some youth have left their home communities to pursue education and job opportunities elsewhere, they are increasingly returning to put their knowledge and skills to work in ways that are compatible with village life, including starting cottage industries and taking on jobs such as teaching which have historically been held by outsiders. (Ray Barnhardt)

I think youth leave villages in Alaska for some of the same reasons that youth leave rural areas of Japan: They are looking for more opportunities for employment than can be found in villages where there are virtually no opportunities for full time or even part time employment. They池e also influenced by what they see on television and from their attendance at schools outside their home communities. (Mike Martz)

They think living the American dream of high paying jobs, material goods, good times, are better in cities than villages. Once they get older and wiser, they realize otherwise! (Tacuk)
9. I heard that it is increasingly difficult to protect the nature in Alaska in Bush administration. Does this have any influence in the life of native people?

Large scale industrial development (e.g., mining and oil development) and related climate changes have been a major source of concern for Native people because of its adverse impact on the natural environment on which much of their livelihood depends. There continues to be on-going tension between subsistence, commercial and sport uses of natural resources, with many cultural, political and economic issues at stake. It remains to be seen what impact the recent shift in the U.S. political landscape will have on realigning policy priorities in these areas. (Ray Barnhardt)

The Bush administration has pushed for more development, as has the majority party in the Alaska legislature especially in an attempt to open the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and mineral exploration. There has also been a recent scandal involving pipeline corrosion on the oil fields of the North Slope. This all does have an influence on the lives of Native Alaskans as there is more pressure on Native people near potential reserves of coal, gold and other minerals, oil and gas deposits, to allow development on their lands. This results in difficult and often divisive debates in Native communities with some people supporting development because of the job and economic opportunities development will offer while others oppose development because of the potential environmental damage and the loss of their subsistence lifestyle and cultural values that can result from resource development. (Mike Martz)
10. Do you think it is meaningful to learn about other places outside of your own?

It deepens our understanding of our own place by learning about similarities and differences with other places. It also broadens and deepens our understanding of other places by having a deep understanding of our own place. (Ray Barnhardt)

Definitely. It makes you really appreciate who you are because that is where you are the most comfortable. It also makes your knowledge of the world more real and broad. (Tacuk)

It痴 always meaningful to learn about other places outside one痴 own. Our travels in Japan were a wonderful opportunity to see how other people in a different part of the world live. It痴 then possible to compare that new experience with our own lives at home. (Mike Martz)
11. What do you feel lacking in environmental education and place-based education in Japan?

One of the issues that came up several times during our visit is the policy of rotating teachers from school to school, which inhibits the opportunities for acquiring a deep understanding of a particular place and integrating that understanding into the curriculum. The frequent turnover of educational personnel limits the application of place-based education strategies. (Ray Barnhardt)
12. Culture changes. How do you view the culture and what is your approach to teaching it? Do you teach the culture cores which do not change or as way of thinking?

Culture defines a way of life and shapes the identity of a people, and it is learned primarily through direct participation in the living culture. That is why it is so important for Native people to have control over their schools, so they can bring their own cultural perspective into the educational experiences of their children. It is also why place-based education strategies are well suited to inculcating indigenous cultural knowledge into the next generation. (Ray Barnhardt)
The good things of the culture like the values, dance, songs, beliefs, etc are some of the things that should be taught in a culture class. The most difficult are the abstract concepts. (Tacuk)
13. Japanese school education attempts to raise the students� motivation by competition, which I believe is a mistake. Do you make much of 田ooperation� in Alaska?

Cooperation and sharing are among the most universal of cultural values embraced by Native peoples in Alaska, so we are encouraging schools to minimize competitive strategies and incorporate cooperation and sharing into their teaching practices as much as possible. (Ray Barnhardt)
14. Please give me a hint what we can count on in a place where we lost things which should have been protected.

Indigenous peoples around the world are seeking to recover knowledge, skills, language and traditions that were discontinued or lost under colonial domination. However, such recovery work must be initiated by the people themselves, not by someone external to the society that has been impacted. In this way, many indigenous peoples from the Maori to the Sami are recovering their language and cultural traditions. (Ray Barnhardt)
15. What are the problems that westernized Alaska Natives face?

One of the biggest challenges that Native people face in the exercise of self-determination is finding ways to reconcile traditional cultural practices with the demands of the bureaucratic institutional structures (e.g., schools) that have been put in place in their communities. (Ray Barnhardt)

Alcoholism, drug addiction, family dysfunction and disintegration due to a loss of core traditional values, a loss of 澱elonging�, an uncertainty about their cultural identity. Many do overcome these problems but it takes a long time. It involves a return to their core traditional values. (Mike Martz)
16. How do you define 菟lace� in place-based education?

撤lace� in place-based education is intended to encompass the whole of the physical, cultural and community environment in which people live their lives. Place-based education grounds learning in a deep understanding of the local 菟lace� as a foundation for learning about and engaging with the rest of the world (i.e., think globally, act locally). (Ray Barnhardt)
17. How would you interpret and explain why Japanese and Alaska natives have similar way of thinking and viewing the nature?

The more people depend on maintaining a respectful relationship with the environment to sustain their way of life, the more common their way of thinking about the environment is likely to be. The laws of nature in Japan are the same as those in Alaska. (Ray Barnhardt)
18. I have an impression that Yaaveskaniryaraq takes a method of story telling. Do you do other activities and discussion programs in Yaaves?

Much, much more. We discuss our world views, values, dance/song, seasons, child rearing, science, sociology, math. We cram as much as we can into it with elders taking the lead. (Tacuk)

18. Are there many female elders?

Tacuk is a leading example . . . (Ray Barnhardt)

Most of my ancestors were female elders. (Tacuk)
19. What do you think about the wealth in the western concept?

The western definition of wealth is based on a misplaced emphasis on the accumulation of material goods with a concomitant disregard for cultural and spiritual well-being. As Oscar Kawagley puts it, western society (including schooling) places the emphasis on making a living as opposed to making a life for ones self. (Ray Barnhardt)
20. Has the efforts to keep native痴 culture been done as volunteer bases?

While some limited external resources have been available for cultural revitalization efforts, the most important and successful efforts have been those that originated from the communities themselves and are sustained by volunteer community effort. (Ray Barnhardt)
21. What is an important thing for human beings in life?

To live their precious cultural lives. (Tacuk)
22. How is story telling maintained?

Mostly in Yaaveskaniryaraq and in the schools. It used to be every family would have story times like at bedtimes. Many people don稚 know the stories anymore so they have to be reintroduced. (Tacuk)