A look at the indigenous art in Alaska


Hello, this is a sample syllabus for the class, the current syllabus can be found in Canvas

Alaska Native Art History


Credits: 3

Prerequisites: Sophomore standing or permission of instructor

Fulfills Alaska Native Themed (ant) requirement

Online Location: https://art365.community.uaf.edu/  and the UAF Canvas portal

Meeting time: Asynchronous Weekly on both Canvas and the Website


This course examines the material culture of Alaska Native people from pre-colonial times to the present. Students will explore the effects of colonialism on the art forms of the different Alaska Native cultural groups. Students will have an opportunity to contribute to the ongoing histories of Alaska Native art through group research projects.


Students will be able to identify the distinct cultural artworks of the indigenous cultures within Alaska and be able to analyze and interpret their art forms. Within each region, students will be able to identify pre-colonial art, postcolonial art, and contemporary art forms. Students will be able to articulate the effects of colonialism on the art form and how contemporary Alaska Native artists are responding in their work today.


Students will be able to identify, describe, and compare the unique material culture of each major indigenous group in Alaska. Through guided discussion, students will be able to describe and analyze the effects of colonialism on the material cultures studied.  Students will gain an understanding of group research through collaborative learning assignments and through the process be able to work in a team environment.


Required Book: Alaska Native Art Tradition Innovation Continuity: Susan W. Fair

(can be found on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Alaska-Native-Art-Innovation-Continuity/dp/1889963828

Other readings will be available and uploaded to Canvas on a weekly basis. 


As an online distance delivery course, you will need a high-speed internet connection and a computer or tablet to access the content. As an art history course, there will be a number of image-intensive video lectures that will require a fast internet connection, although there is an option built into Canvas where you will be able to download the video to your local computer and watch later. You will need to have access to your @alaska.edu account to access the Google drive where the shared information for the research project will be held. 


This distance delivery online course will use a combination of lecture and class discussion that culminates in a group research project. Each week a new module will be released on Canvas and our WordPress site. Readings will be assigned from the required text with supplemental readings handed out each week on Canvas. Accompanying the readings are video lectures that are also available on Canvas. Discussion on the week’s topics based on the readings and the lecture will occur on the class discussion board. We will be the Canvas discussion board for communication. Quizzes based on the week’s readings and lectures will be available through Canvas. The culmination of the course will be a group research project. Groups will be assigned just before midterms.

COURSE SCHEDULE: This is a tentative schedule and is subject to change.


Week 1:   


Make sure to order your book for the readings to come next week.

Introduction: Please introduce yourself in the introduction and discussion board.

Week 2:  


“Tradition”:  Read  Alaska Native Art:  the Introduction (pp xxi-xxxi)  chapter, 1 “The Nature of Tradition”  pp 1-21 and chapter 4 “Genres, Boundaries and Ways of Making”  pp 127-164

Watch: Tradition video lecture on Canvas

Post: Your comments in the #tradition discussion board Sunday 

Week 3:     Southeast Alaska: Read Crossroads of Continents pp 58-63, From the Land of Totem Poles pp 17-26, and  Alaska Native Art pp 107-125

Watch: video lectures on Canvas

Post: Your comments in the Southeast discussion board.

Quiz: Take the quiz on Canvas- due midnight  Sunday  

Week 4:      


The Aleutian’s: Read Crossroads of Continents pp 52-57 and Alaska Native Art pp 73-87

Watch: video lecture

Post: Your comments in the Aleutian discussion board.

Quiz: Take the quiz on Canvas- due midnight  Sunday

Week 5: 


Western Alaska: Read Inua pp 39-46 and  Alaska Native Art pp 49-72

Watch: video lecture

Post: Your comments in the #Wester Alaska discussion board

Quiz: Take the quiz on Canvas- due midnight  Sunday

Week 6:   


Introduction of Group Project: The  Living Alaska Native art history site

Read: Collaborative Peer Evaluation: Best Practices for Group Member Assessments (on Canvas)

Watch: The Creative Power of Collaboration 

Create: A list of 10 rules for group work, due midnight  Sunday

Week 7: Northern Alaska: Read  Alaska Native Art pp 25-49

Watch: video lecture

Post: Your comments in the #Northern Alaska discussion board

Quiz: Take the quiz on Canvas- due midnight  Sunday

Week 8:  


Interior Alaska: Read The Athapaskans: Stranger of the North pp 19-42; Crossroads of Continent pp 64-68; Alaska Native Art  pp 89-106

Watch: video lecture

Post: Your comments in the #Interior Alaska discussion board

Quiz: Take the quiz on Canvas- due midnight  Sunday

Week 9:  


Spring Break

Group project

Defining the interviewee and making first contact-due midnight  Sunday  

Week 10: Group project 

Research on your group’s artist, creating the Annotated Bibliography for your group.

Create: A bibliography based on the artist-due midnight  Sunday

Week 11:   


Group project: Defining the question for the interview

Read:  Alaska Native Art Chapter 6 The Importance of Place pp 201-224

Post: Your comments in the #Place discussion board

Create: A list of questions based on your team’s research-due midnight  Sunday

Week 12:           Group project: Conduct an interview and gain permission to use artist images 

Read:  Alaska Native Art Chapter 7 Tradition as Process pp 227-256

Post: Your comments in the #Process discussion board

Week 13:   


Group project: Edit and send back to the artist for review-due midnight  Sunday
Week 14: 


Group project: Build the post for the interview-due midnight  Sunday

Last artist review of the site before posting

Week 15: Finals week: Post project to the Living Alaska Native Art History site


  • Active participation in the discussion site is required. In a “face to face” class you are expected to come to class regularly and participate in the learning environment. With this online class, the discussion board is the space that the class will engage in. 
  • Keep up with reading and video lectures. It’s hard to participate without knowing what everyone is talking about.
  • Respect for fellow students. We encourage active dialogue and free-thinking within the class but will not put up with flaming or trolling on the discussion board.
  • Communications: generally I am only checking email and the discussion board from 9-5 Monday-Friday. I have social media accounts but do not use them as modes of communication please do not try and contact me by FB or other like sites.


Expectations for the course is ongoing engagement with your classmates, hard work, evidence of time spent with the material, and an ability to demonstrate an understanding of all concepts.  Students should expect to spend an average of 8 hours per week to achieve an understanding of the content. This class uses letter grades A-F with +/- for grading and is broken up into 3 categories outlined below.

33% – Participation

Every week it is expected that you will actively participate in the discussion topic, and interact with your fellow students. Discussion is evaluated on a 0-5 point scale each week defined below.  Total points for participation will be weighted at 33% of the total grade

  • 0=did not participate, no posts.
  • 1=minimal participation: one sentence on the week’s topic.
  • 3=average participation: at least one paragraph illustrating an understanding of the readings and lectures
  • 5=active participation: illustrates knowledge of both the readings and lectures,  shows an understanding of the material presented, engaged with other students on the board, and keeps the conversation going with other questions.

33% – Quizzes

Most weeks there will be video lectures on the Canvas site to complement the readings. There will be short quizzes based on both the readings and lectures due midnight Sunday after that week’s module is released. Each quiz is worth 10 points, and total point for the quizzes will be weighted at 33% of the total grade.

34% – Group project (Alaska Native Art Living History Project)

Active participation is required for the group project.  If you let everyone else do the work and sit on the sidelines it will be reflected in your grade.  The Alaska Native Art Living History Project will be broken up into sections with deadlines for each section defined in the calendar. Each section of the project will be graded individually and defined below and total points for the group project will be weighted at 34% of the final grade.

  • Each team will first define a method of collaborative peer evaluation (and pick a team name) (10 points)
    • Every team member will be required to submit at least 5 rules for the peer evaluation and actively participate in the final draft of your team’s evaluation. (not all the rules will make it into the finale evaluation but everyone must submit rules for debate by the team) The evaluation your team has agreed upon will be used to evaluate your team’s members at the end of the semester. 
  • Collectively your team will identify an artist to research and interview (10 points)
    • Each member of the team should suggest at least one artist and be active in the decision of the final choices. Be ready to defend your choice. Why do you want to interview them? How does their work contribute to the history of Alaska Native Art? What do you want to learn about their artwork?
  • Your team will create an annotated bibliography of resources about the artist (20 points)
    • Each member of the team is expected to contribute at least 5 references about the artist’s work, there will probably be duplicates if everyone is using the same resources, but it is important to know how to research an artist. 
  • Based on the team’s research, questions will be developed specifically to their artistic practice, worldview, medium, or other questions that come up in the team’s research. (20 points)
    • Each member of the team is expected to contribute at least 5 questions that illustrate an understanding of the research materials gathered from the previous week’s assignment. 
  • An interview will be conducted and transcribed by the team (10 points)
    • This can be done by email, phone, video 
  • Editing will be done by the team and the artist will have an opportunity to review materials before publishing (10 points)
    • Each member of the team is expected to contribute to the editing process using the comments section in the team’s Google Drive folder. 
  • The final interview will be published on the Alaska Native Art Living History Project site (10 points) https://art365.community.uaf.edu/category/alaska-native-art-living-history-project/ 
  • Final evaluation of team performance. (20 points)
    • Based on the teams’ peer evaluation, you will evaluate the team members’ performance and participation. 
A+ = 4.0 = 100-99% A = 4.0 = 98-94% A- = 3.7 =93- 90%
B+ = 3.3 = 89-87% B = 3.0 = 86-84% B- = 2.7 = 83-80%
C+ = 2.3 = 79-77% C = 2.0 = 76-74% C- = 1.7 = 73-70%
D+ = 1.3 = 69-67% D = 1.0 = 66-65% F = 0.7 =64- 0%


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