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Native Knowledge is Academic

Our school includes academic instruction that recognizes and values Native ways of knowing.  Native knowledge is presented as valid and academic, and we avoid presenting Western knowledge systems as superior. Our recognition of Native ways of knowing as academic is not limited to special populations, special classes or special units; it is woven throughout course content and considered rigorous for all. 

Not Yet

Native ways of knowing are not part of the academic courses.  Demonstrated value of Native culture is limited to special projects or special clubs typically outside of the academic time. 


Native ways of knowing are presented in a few classes by specific teachers with an interest in incorporating culturally relevant and culturally responsive instruction. 

We Got This!

Recognition of, reference to, and opportunities to use/experience Native ways of knowing are present in many core academic courses.  These are referenced as academic and of value to learn and know. This is a school expectation with recognition of Alaska being homelands to Indigenous populations. 



Indigenous people have a unique world view and interdependent understanding of the natural world. Indigenous ways have served Indigenous people well for many years, however this knowledge has historically been ignored by Western school education. Indigenous ways of knowing are increasingly being recognized as academic and valuable in the study of diverse world views and knowledge systems. Many high schools have yet to explore what this means. Inviting Native ways of knowing into classrooms is much deeper than culturally relevant or place-based education, which is also valuable; it represents an approach to learning and understanding the world.  Understanding or considering the world through a diversity of thought is understood as a scholarly endeavor.  This is why inviting Native ways of knowing into the school environment is understood as beneficial for all students, not just those that are Indigenous.  

Field Stories

Joe Nelson

"I like to tell students I work with to consider it a competitive advantage."




Links and Resources

Great Reads and Resources to Learn More

In 2005 Ray Barnhardt andAngayuqaq Oscar Kawagley described the benefit of the movement to recognize Indigenous Knowledge Systems in an article published by the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Indigenous Knowledge Systems/ Alaska Native Ways of Knowing by Ray Barnhardt and Angayuqaq Oscar Kawagley 


See Complete Research List

The work of Kanu (2006) and Castagno and Brayboy (2008) specifically suggest that the inclusion of Native culture in curriculum helps students become more post-secondary ready. Others (Cajete & Pueblo, 2010; Oaks & Maday, 2009; Schofiled et al., 2013) point out the academic value to both Native and non-Native students in expanding rigor and critical thinking through the inclusion of Indigenous epistemologies.

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