Kwakwaka’wakw dzaxwan: the development and evaluation of a cross-cultural oolichan fisheries curriculum




Cranmer, Donna

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The Kwakwaka’wakw (people who speak the Kwak’wala language) sustained themselves for thousands of years prior to contact because of their mayaxa’la – respect for the land, water (both fresh and salt) and the resources, such as the dzaxwan – oolichan that were found in their territory. This thesis describes the development of a cross-cultural science curriculum on dzaxwan, using information gained from interviews with knowledgeable elders that have participated in the annual trips to work with dzaxwan and the rendering of t’łina (oolichan oil). Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Wisdom (TEKW) and Western Modern Science (WMS) concepts are woven into the creation of the dzaxwan curriculum. Lessons were pilot tested in the spring of 2009 with grade 6/7 students at the ‘Namgis First Nation band operated T’łisalagi’lakw School in Alert Bay, BC. Evaluative techniques showed that the students understood the TEKW of the people, a range of WMS concepts, and practiced mayaxala (respect for the people, the land and water, and the dzaxwan).



oolichan, cross-cultural, science curriculum, Alert Bay, BC