In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Alaska Native Education

  • Introduction
  • General Overview of Alaska Native Peoples
  • Education, Well-Being, and Restorative Justice
  • Language Revitalization/Reclamation
  • Cultural Revitalization and Reclamation
  • Pedagogy and Policy: Challenges and Opportunities
  • Reclaiming Education: Alaska’s Culturally Responsive Standards
  • Alaska Native Spaces in Postsecondary Education

Education Alaska Native Education
Polly Hyslop, Beth Leonard
  • LAST REVIEWED: 27 May 2020
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 May 2020
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0250


This bibliography presents foundational studies in Alaska Native education, as well as more current articles, book chapters, dissertations, media sources, and other key resources that explore Alaska Native education from the precolonization era to the present. As there have been a number of publications about Alaska Natives, rather than with and for Alaska Natives, this bibliography privileges Alaska Native voices and scholarship. Although Alaska Natives are often grouped with American Indian peoples in educational statistical analyses, the contexts of these groups are distinct with historical and current challenges that, although not completely dissimilar, diverge in significant ways. Currently Alaska Native students represent 22 percent of the total K-12 population in Alaska (Alaska Department of Education & Early Development,), and 16 percent of all students enrolled in the University of Alaska system. Education continues to be a priority for Alaska Native organizations and communities. Current issues include low numbers of Alaska Native teachers and appropriate Indigenous teacher preparation, high teacher turnover, and Alaska Native retention and graduation rates in K-12 and higher education. As well, many scholars seek to reorient ideologies around academic “success” beyond diplomas and degrees (Barnhardt and Kawagley 2010; Barnhardt and Kawagley 2011). Many sources in this bibliography envision the potential for Alaska Native education, diverging from the discourses of Alaska Native student failure[s]; rather, these sources focus on how K-12 and higher education institutions might be better prepared to serve these students. Bibliography categories are broad in scope and there is significant thematic overlap among the sources. Websites with significant content on Alaska Native education include the Alaska Native Knowledge Network and Alaskool. In addition, there are a number of locally based curriculum initiatives by Alaska Native teacher organizations, including the Association of Interior Native Educators who have developed culturally based curriculum units, teacher resource books, and learning styles videos.

General Overview of Alaska Native Peoples

Alaska Native peoples are diverse within a landscape of 663,268 square miles. State of Alaska census data from 2015 reveals that approximately 19 percent of the state’s total population of 737,625 self-identify as Alaska Native. Alaska Native is a legal term; however it is now being used as a racial/ethnic identifier; and this “pan” term tends to gloss over the diversity of Alaska’s Indigenous nations. Alaska has several major Native regions and twenty distinct Native languages, including Iñupiaq, Yup’ik, Cup’ik, Sugpiaq/Alutiiq, Unangax/Aleut, Athabascan, Tlingit, Tsimshian, and Haida (Williams 2009, pp. 4–11). In 2015, the twenty Alaska Native languages were recognized as “official languages of the State” (State of Alaska, HB216, 21 January 2015). The twelve Alaska Native controlled corporations (with associated educational nonprofit arms) formed under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act function as major employers and economic drivers within and beyond the State of Alaska (in comparison, there are 229 tribes recognized by the US federal government).

  • Barnhardt, Ray, and Angayuqaq Oscar Kawagley, eds. 2010. Alaska Native education: Views from within. Fairbanks: Alaska Native Knowledge Network.

    This edited volume contains thirty-one essays that highlight the voices of Alaska Native leaders and scholars, many of whom are long-term activists and advocates of Alaska Native knowledges and pedagogies. Several essays were reprinted from previous peer-reviewed publications, and selected essays are annotated in subsequent sections of this bibliography.

  • Barnhardt, Ray, and Angayuqaq Oscar Kawagley, eds. 2011. Sharing our pathways: Native perspectives on education in Alaska. Fairbanks: Alaska Native Knowledge Network.

    This edited volume contains sixty-three essays that document Indigenous Knowledges (IK) and examine the integration of IK into classroom pedagogies. The essays were published in the Sharing Our Pathways newsletters written between 1966 and 2005 as part of the Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative. The volume is organized by Alaska Native cultural groups: Yup’ik/Cup’ik, Tlingit/Haida, Unangan/Alutiiq, Athabascan, and Iñupiaq. Selected essays are annotated in subsequent sections of this bibliography.

  • Williams, Maria Shaa Tláa, ed. 2009. The Alaska Native reader: History, culture, politics. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press.

    The essays in this seminal volume are creatively arranged into five sections: Portraits of nations: Telling our own story; Empire: Processing decolonization; Worldviews: Alaska Native and Indigenous epistemologies; Native arts: A weaving of melody and color; and Ravenstales. Essays cover a broad range of topics including the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, Alaska Native planning traditions, cultural identity and language, tribal governance, cultural appropriation, and Indigenous perspectives on Alaska Native history[ies].

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