Alaska native youth and their attitudes toward education


Building on Richard Condon's discussions of education in the Central Canadian Arctic village of Holman, this paper uses 1995 survey data to describe Alaska Native high school students' perceptions of the purpose of school, the quality of their schools, the degree of adult encouragement they receive, their Native language skills, and their residential expectations. While Holman students did not perceive great educational expectations from their parents, students in Alaskan villages are as likely to report lots of parental encouragement as are students who attend larger town or boarding schools. Only 15% of students in Holman indicated they wanted to live someplace other than Holman when they got older, but 85% of Alaska Native students think they will live someplace other than their home communities for most of the rest of their lives. The differences between adolescents in Holman and Alaska may be consequences of time. Oil revenues, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, and the Molly Hootch decision in the 1970s predicated many changes in Alaska which in turn affected educational policies and practices. Recent decisions affecting self-governance for Native peoples in the Canadian Arctic are likely to accelerate similar changes.



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Arctic Anthropology


University of Wisconsin

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