Tlingit pedagogy creates multiple opportunities for local students

Goldbelt Heritage Foundation and the University of Alaska Southeast School of Education partnered to co-sponsor a course this spring for students from all three Juneau high schools to promote science literacy through culturally-responsive curriculum. Due to enthusiastic contributions from our local community, 14 students successfully completed the inquiry-based dual-credit course, Investigating Traditional Ecological Knowledge. With an inter-disciplinary exploration of the essential question, ‘why do we live here?’ students were able to connect with science and cultural heritage through Tlingit language, food preparation, lineage research, traditional community site visits, engagement with cultural specialists and scientists, and technology such as GIS computer training. The class concluded with university-hosted presentations to 60 community members demonstrating student understanding of the application of science, math, problem-solving skills and the importance of oratory in Aak Kwaan and Taak’u Kwaan. UAS Dean, Deborah Lo, and professors Lance Twitchell and Ernestine Hayes welcomed students to the University of Alaska Southeast campus. Also in attendance to recognize Tlingit pedagogy and student achievement was Juneau School District board member, Destiny Sergeant.


The class demonstrates an ongoing collaborative effort between the University of Alaska Southeast School of Education and Goldbelt Heritage Foundation. Offered as an extension of the annual Path to Excellence summer academies, Goldbelt Heritage intends to support local students year-round by offering educational opportunities, employment skills, and an introduction into possible career fields and higher learning pathways.

As a result of student academic excellence and community support, eight internship and employment opportunities have been offered to students who completed the course. The UAS School of Education has offered six students paid internships for the opportunity to contribute to this summer’s place-based education workshop for 60 teachers, “A Pedagogy of Place.” Julia Gregory, Adriana Bothelo, Jasmine Brown, Crystal Faatoia, Cheyenne Hinckley, and Haley Ballou will attend the three-day professional development institute as student leaders and technology assistants. The workshop will further extend opportunities for teachers to embed science, math, art, and culture into their classrooms. Elia Krumm has been accepted for a 10-day internship through the United States Forest Service to paddle Tracy Arm as a Kayak Ranger in August. Cheyenne Hinckley was also offered an internship with the Pack Creek brown bear wilderness rangers of the Forest Service. Eran Hood, a UAS Associate Professor of science recently hired Elia Krumm for part-time research investigating glacial science through field experiences and laboratory work throughout the entire summer.

Goldbelt Heritage Foundation Staff Kate Jensen, Fred White, Paul Marks, Dionne Cadiente-Laiti, Aurora Coronell, Victoria Johnson, Edward Hotch, Marsha Hotch, Deena LaRue, Elissa Borges, Paul Berg and others thank the GHF Board for their support of the Path to Excellence program. We additionally would like to extend a warm thank you in acknowledgement of the supportive community that made this spring class and job training opportunities possible: Knowledge Bearers Percy and Edward Jr. Kunz, Helen and Ray Watkins, John Smith and Liana Wallace. Additional contributors to the class are Discovery Southeast Naturalists Richard Carstensen, Steve Merli, Rick Belagh, and from the U.S. Forest Service Rachel Myron, Sean Riley, Myra Gilliam, Harry Tullis, and Solan Jensen. University faculty included Frank Coenraad, Eran Hood, Daniel Monteith, Cathy Thomas, Mark Standley, and Cathy Thomas. The class has also created collaborations with Juneau School District teachers Henry Hopkins (JDHS) as the teacher-of-record, Kathleen Galau (TMHS), Brita Steinberger (Yakoosge), Steve Hill (Yakoosge), Barbara Cadiente-Nelson (JSD), Pamela Tippets, Suzanne Ainsworth, and local habitat biologist Cathy Pohl.

In addition to the co-sponsored course, Goldbelt Heritage Foundation is currently offering a paid internship position for 12 to 14 weeks this summer. The summer internship is three-quarter time to full-time and applicants must be enrolling in, currently enrolled, or a or a recent graduate of a college, university, or vocational program. Goldbelt shareholders and descendants are encouraged to submit resumes and a letter of interest to (790-1467) by June 17. Goldbelt Heritage Foundation is also excited to announce the dates for this summer’s Path to Excellence Academy, June 23-July 3, to be held at the University of Alaska Southeast. Additional information is posted at

Goldbelt Heritage Foundation is able to co-sponsor this course through a Demonstration Grant Award S299A090070 ‘Path to Excellence’ from the Office of Indian Education in partnership with the University of Alaska Southeast School of Education.

Kate Jensen, Educataion Specialist with Goldbelt Heritage Institute


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