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Archives on the Arctic: Connecting to Global Issues with Primary Resources

Archives on Arctic
Twenty-three educators participated in Archives on the Arctic in Denver, Colorado.

October 31, 2013

Originally posted: October 2013

Twenty-three educators participated in Archives on the Arctic in Denver, Colorado.

In June 2013, twenty-three educators gathered at Metropolitan State University of Colorado, to learn about the role of the Inuit in Canada and globally thanks to a collaborative program partnership between the Pacific Northwest National Resource on Canada and Library of Congress.

The Arctic is emerging as one of the most important regions in our global world. Students need an understanding of this region, including its people, to help them understand about current discussions. – participant

For students to be citizens of the world, they must understand how events in one place affect people in other places. Understanding the issues of the Arctic and their impacts will help achieve this since this region is one they can relate to. – participant

On Day One of the program began with two lectures by Nadine Fabbi – “History of the Inuit in Canada and the Circumpolar North” and “Climate Change as a Human Rights Issue in the Arctic.”

The lectures were followed by a session by Michelle Pearson, Teacher Associate, Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources, and educator/historic preservation specialist for History Colorado. Michelle engaged the educators in an active exercise to illustrate how primary sources can be used to spur student interest in a topic. Most appropriately, the photo utilized was of a group of Inuit from Nunatsiavut in eastern Canada who travelled to Seattle in 1909 to participate in the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition (World Fair).

Michelle gave a thorough overview of how to search for materials on the Library of Congress website noting the significant developments on the site over the last few years including tremendous new resources on Canada.

On Day Two, Nadine provided a third lecture entitled, “International Relations and Indigenous Diplomacies in the Arctic,” focused on how Inuit remapping and renaming of the Arctic region is facilitating a more effective Inuit voice in global affairs. The lecture introduced the Inuit concept of territory – nunangat – or territory as land, sea and ice.

Peggy O’Neill-Jones, professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver and director of the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources program at the University as well as the Western Region program, followed with a presentation on curriculum design.

Tina wrapped up the workshop with “best practices” for lesson plans and other sources for resources including the K-12 STUDY CANADA resource site The creation of a lesson plan, or presentation at an educator conference, is required of all participants.

The participants represented 10 states – Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington – and ranged from social studies to science educators, heads of state geographical organizations to editors of educational journals. During time dedicated to exploring topics for lesson plans, a number of wide-ranging topics emerged. How do we understand Inuit concepts of sea ice and its potential influence on international law? How does the Arctic environment shape Inuit culture? Who owns the Arctic? How do we define the Arctic as a region? How is the Arctic serving as a barometer for global warming?

Educators noted that Arctic is nowhere in the U.S. curriculum yet, the region will be the most impacted by our activities than any other region now and in the future. They will go on to produce lesson plans to incorporate into their classrooms, to share with other educators, and to present at conferences.

Archives on the Arctic wiki website:

The program was generously funded by a grant from the Library of Congress, Western Region Program. Tina Storer, Education and Curriculum Specialist, Center for Canadian-American Studies, was the Principle Investigator of the $20,000 grant. The purpose of the Teaching with Primary Resource grants is for the activities of the grants to continue into the future. The grants are for in-service professional development and educational programs for teachers and available on a rolling basis.