Sugpiaq/Alutiiq spirituality centers around the concept that all things possess a human like being called a sua (it’s person). People followed rituals and spoke respectfully of the natural world and they, animals, to gain approval of the spirit of the things around them. The most important power was Llam Sua, the “person of the universe,” who was thought to be able to hear and see all things. Sugpiaq/Alutiiq people also believed in a host of supernatural beings such as mit’at (star people), imam sua (the spirit of the sea), and nunam sua(the spirit of the land). These spirits were said to take on an earthly form periodically, often to teach the humans a lesson about respecting the Earth and its creatures.
Taken from – Alaska State Museum – Juneau
While at the Alaska State Museum on Thursday, I read this from an interpretive sign and it inspired me for my region’s lesson. According to Sugpiaq/Alutiiq culture they believed spirits would sometimes come down and take an earthly form to teach humans lessons about respecting the earth. I would like to track down these stories and create a lesson that figures out a way to tie in indigenous ways of knowing with current climate issues facing Alaska.
My intended audience would be anywhere from 6th – 12th graders. The region covers the Southwest Maritime area of Alaska, and specifically social studies.
The lesson would be set up in three parts: first a lecture with background knowledge and primary sources of stories. The second would be a discussion facilitating the essential questions and making it reflective of indigenous ways of knowing specific to the environment and how humans interact with the earth. Then discuss the modern ways of life, the students own personal experiences. The third part would be the students creating their own stories reflecting on how humans treat the environment. I could have requirements of the story, still not completely sure of the form of the story, if I had lots of time we could do video storytelling, but that would be a longer lesson, etc.
The essential question? I haven’t nailed my essential questions down yet, I want the students to reflect on the indigenous ways of knowing specific to the environment and compare and contrast it to modern day tactics. *Need to figure this out!
For source material, I have a bit of research to do, finding stories to use as primary sources, or videos, and oral history.
The students will create their own stories…but part of me wants to spice this up, make it more relevant in their lives, maybe they could put together a play acting out all the stories as vignettes.
This is where I’m at, and I’m open to thoughts and ideas.