History Lesson on South Central Alaska

Region: South Central (Seward Peninsula)

Number of Class Periods: 1-2

Grades: 7-10

Idea 1) History of Fort Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska

Lesson: Fort Richardson was once an internment camp for Japanese-Americans during World War II. Only 15 Japanese-Americans and two Germans were held there.

After World War II, the internment camp, which was constructed in 1941, was turned into Alaska’s largest Army base.

Information to discuss: Fort Richardson, Japanese-American and Alaska Native mixed couples, separation between homeland and an individual.

Tangent Information: Internment camps, Aleut relocation camps, and information about Fort Richardson.


  1. Why do you believe the United States rounded up Japanese-Americans?
  2. How would you feel if someone knocked on your door and told you to “pack up two suitcases, you are leaving?” What would you bring?
  3. What are the pros and cons of transforming the internment camp into an army base?

Activity: Pack a suitcase, or two, with symbolic items to represent personal belongings. Make sure those symbols take up an accurate amount of space.

Idea 2) History of the Dena’ina people

Lesson: The Dena’ina people are a subgroup of the Athabascan. The Athabascan people are broken into different regions and dialects. Each region have commonalities in clothing, music, spirituality, and respect for the land. Specifically, the Dena’ina people have changed over the years as the land they live on becomes more popular and populated. The Dena’ina became more advanced in their technology after the Russians and World War II.

Information to Discuss: The groups of Athabascan people and the commonalities amongst each region, the differences between the Dena’ina and the other regions, the Dena’ina’s specific items of importance, hunting, gathering, population, weapons, evolution of technology, and the growth of population in that area and how it affects that Native inhabitants of that area.


  1. If two different groups are different regions of Athabascan, why might there be different dialects, clothing options, etc.? What are some conditions that cause these differences?
  2. What is the most useful tools used by the Dena’ina?
  3. Did the Russians have a negative or positive impact on the Dena’ina?
  4. What correlation does population density and speaking a native language have?

Activity: Have each student research the Dena’ina people in any aspect they find to be interesting. Ask them to write down interesting facts. Afterwards, have the students break into groups of 4-6, having more groups will lengthen the amount of this activity, and make their own board game. Have them explain their interesting facts to each person in their group and discuss if has is a positive or negative impact.

Each group should brainstorm on scratch paper, but the final product should be on a large poster size of paper. Each game should have a beginning (start) and end (finish) with a path to get from point A to point B.

Have each student find a way to incorporate their interesting facts into the squares. If it is a positive (student-deemed) then award the player that lands on that square some sort of advantage. That advantage could be the advancement of a few spaces, draw a card with another perk or consequence, etc. If the information is negative then provide the player that lands on that space with a negative outcome or punishment.

Have each group describe their game, explain the rules, and their interesting facts. Afterwards, have the groups switch boards and play on a board they didn’t create. Repeat this if desired.

2 thoughts on “History Lesson on South Central Alaska”

  1. Cool! They both look like excellent ideas and have tons of information about them. The questions look pretty solid and the activities seem engaging.

  2. I think both present great opportunities.

    Incarceration of JAs: It might be interesting to have students explore the “constitutionality” of this – compare to Bill of Rights or even the UN Declaration of Rights. Could also compare to modern calls to ban Muslims from US.

    Cultural game: I’m all for games in the classroom. I’m wondering if you might also think about simulating trade and cultural exchange. You could split students up and give them a real or hypothetical culture and its values. Ask them to develop some artifacts based on that and then create a trading situation. That could be a preview of your study of the the actual Dena’ina exchanges and cultural adaptations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *