Inupiaq Cultural Lessons

Discover Inupiaq cultural knowledge that illuminates the northern lights with vocabulary, stories, and dance.

Inupiaq Elder Mary Ahkivgak smiling.Inupiaq Elder Ronald Brower talking.Inupiaq Elder Fannie Akpik smiling at the camera.

Left to Right: Mary Ahkivgak, Ronald Brower, and Fannie Akpik.

Vocabulary - Elementary Guide - Middle School Guide
Learn Iñupiaq vocabulary for terms used in aurora science. Explore the pronunciation guides online on the Cultural Connections website. Vocabulary flashcards are available in North Slope Iñupiaq or Seward Peninsula Iñupiaq.

Online Cultural Content - Elementary Guide - Middle School Guide
Visit the Cultural Connections website to listen to stories from elders about the northern lights, listen to songs from Selawik and Utqiagvik, and watch a dance shared by Fannie Akpik that welcomes the sun. There is also a response sheet for the Welcome the Sun dance.

Interview Elders in Your Community - Elementary PDF - Middle School PDF
Ask an elder in the community, "Can you tell me about the northern lights?" and listen carefully to what they say. Take notes and share something that surprised you.

Northern Lights Storybook - Booklet Printout
Read oral histories and stories from elders across Alaska and reflect on what you've learned. Write your own story about the northern lights in the space provided at the end of the booklet. This activity is designed to be printed in "booklet" form in the page setup of a Word document so the pages are half-size. Have students design a cover on colored paper, hole punch and bind it together.

The above activities and pictures come from the Geophysical Institute's Cultural Connections kit which can be checked out here. 


NASA Space Science Education Consortium logo.This project was funded under NASA cooperative agreement NNX16AL65A. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.