Lesson Plan

Who Uses the Land?

Aerial view of the village of Elim in Northwest Alaska
An aerial view of the village of Elim shows how many communities in Alaska utilize the land and water resources in everyday life.

NPS Photo

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Grade Level:
Sixth Grade-Eleventh Grade
American Indian History and Culture, Community, Government, Historic Preservation, History, Planning/Development, Public Policy, Regional Studies, Westward Expansion
30-60 minutes
Group Size:
Up to 24
computer lab
National/State Standards:
(8) SA3.1,  AH. PPE3 ,  AH CC6


The earliest evidence of land use harkens back to the Bering Land Bridge, when the first human inhabitants of this continent crossed over from Asia over 10,000 years ago.  This land use continues to today, with many different groups competing for rights to use the land. The various types of usage have not always been beneficial.


The students will engage in research to learn how the local environment has been used throughout history.


Alaska history: http://www.akhistorycourse.org/articles/article.php?artID=138

Native Alaskan History wiki: http://wiki.bssd.org/index.php/Native_Alaskan_history

ANCSA info for Elementary School age: http://www.alaskool.org/projects/ancsa/elem_ed/elem_ancsa.htm

Inuit History in Alaska: http://www.everyculture.com/multi/Ha-La/Inuit.html

History of Northwest Alaska: http://www.akhistorycourse.org/articles/article.php?artID=75


  1. Books on Alaskan history
  2. Internet access 
  3. Local Elders (if applicable) 
  4. Butcher paper or something large to write on



  1. Have students define the 3 periods in Alaskan history and list who used the land at that time.
  2. Have students define the concept of native corporations and the ANCSA. Have them list how these two concepts affected land use in Alaska


An alternate example of this activity would include energy usage. Alaska is home to an abundance of natural energy sources. Of course there is the Alaskan pipeline and oilfields. Alaska also contains significant amounts of natural gas. Recent efforts to build pipelines that use this gas have met with limited success. Many smaller villages and cities have begun to use wind power and geothermal power sources. Chena Hot Springs began using geothermal power in 2006. Wales, Kotzebue, Nome and many other cities have built wind turbines. When examining these issues we can ask ourselves the same questions about using the land and potential conflicts. While renewable energy is always preferred, we still run into some conflicts when using it. Wind generators have to be built somewhere. They can affect birds and other animals in the area.


Land use
Native corporations

Last updated: April 12, 2018