How Did You Get Here?

How did people get to live along the Iditarod route--and Beringia?

Social Studies, Art, Geography, Geology, History, Science

The Native peoples that live along the Iditarod have been here for a long time going back to the time of Beringia. People have populated earth throughout times by migrating from one region to the next. This can be viewed over extensive periods of time such as for examples that people some 20-14000 years ago walked from west to east across the Beringia land bridge, from what is now Asia to then populate North America; as well as where our immediate family have come from and gone to. For example the migration of grand parents from Europe to the United States in this century. Our knowledge of migration is based in scientific findings and in the knowledge of our family and culture passed on from generation to generation. Engrained in cultures are our stories of where we come from not only as individuals but as peoples.How we are informed about peoples and their migration through legends and stories!?

Scroll down for activity! Or click to download How Did You Get Here? Activity (PDF)



1) Have students locate the Iditarod checkpoints from Fairbanks to Nome on a map. Consider using Google Earth for this exercise; or simply use the trail map provided on the front page of the site.

2) Share with students that most of these communities — other than Fairbanks and Nome — have populations of 100-500 people. By looking at the map consider how there are no or very few roads in this region; as well as how remote these communities are. As a group discuss how the students think the people came to live here?

3) Ask students what this region is called? Expand the map to include both the Yukon in Canada, Alaska, and Chukotka in Russia. Discuss as a group how this was once one region known as Beringia. Older students read the article “Genetic Study Helps resolve…” while the essence of the article is instead shared with younger students. Discuss as a class how scientists are stating that humans walked from east to west — Why would humans do this? How do we know where humans come from? Do they know where their own family comes from?

4) As a class define the word “migration.” Do Students know anyone that have migrated? What is the connection between migration and “where we come from”?

5) Share with students that most cultures have stories, legends and beliefs about where they come from. Have students share their knowledge about this. In the Arctic where the Iditarod takes place people too have legends that describe their first arrival to the surface of earth at the beginning of time. Most all of the history of Arctic Native peoples is passed down from generation to generation — not written down — but in stories and legends told again and again. Share with students that this is called oral tradition.

Do the students know any legends?

6) Hand out the legend “Dotson’ Sa, Great Raven Makes The World”. Practice reading it as a class. Note places in the reading where gestures and voice inflections will emphasize important points.

7) Use the creation legend as a transition into a discussion about the student’s relatives and how they first came to the region where they are now living. Have each student mark, color or draw the origins of their ancestors and relatives ; as a class on projected digital map or hand-out print of small world map (available at ).

8) Students create a story-line (written, audio or visual) describing how their relatives settles in the particular region or area in which they are now living.

The Genetic Study Helps...

Dotson' Sa, Great Raven Makes The World

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