alaska native influence & integration

Celebrating Culture

The strong presence and continual influence of the Koyukon Athabascan culture resonates within our community and within the walls of SHS on a daily basis. See, here in Galena, our culture is a way of life and is visible in how we eat, share, sing, dance, tell stories, host traditional events, and honor those who graced the land before us.


Dene’ means “the people” in the Koyukon Athabascan language. The Athabascan people have graced the Interior of Alaska for thousands of years flourishing off of the bounty of the land through nomadic and subsistence lifestyles. Today, these traditions and ways of life are still prominent in Galena as the land’s gifts such as moose, fish, berries, and plants are integral parts of the diet and customary singing and dancing, potlatches and celebrations still bring joy and pass on the knowledge for generations to come.


Galena is proudly home to many distinct cultures and welcomes the diversity, vibrancy and value that each add to our collective learning community. While Galena has a strong Athabascan presence, our students experience the benefits of a multi-cultural education as Galena is home for several students and staff throughout the academic year which represent many beautiful and strong heritages including the Yup’ik, Cup’ik, Alutiiq, Inupiaq and Tlingit people.


Our goal—not only during the month of November—but year-round, is to explore cultural values, beliefs, and ways of doing things to increase cultural awareness and cultural competence while promoting the many additional benefits of culture in the classroom. 


Elders and local knowledge bearers can frequently be seen sharing their stories, skills and life lessons with our staff and students. These special and memorable moments start from the first day students arrive on campus and continue throughout the year in classes such as Mrs. Kramer’s Outdoor Education, Mr. Tomac’s Social Studies and in Mrs. Green’s Denaakke’e courses.


Stay humble, listen more than you speak, laugh whenever possible and treat everyone as valuable – These are the character traits we learn from our community’s elders and work to embody here in Galena. In addition to the immense impact they have on our lives, we blessed to collaborate with the Louden Tribal council and several local culture bearers on a routine basis to ensure that we serve as a piece of the community’s fabric.

Further, we are led internally by several staff who have lifelong connections to the region and/or city, including Claudette Green, who connects our students with the local culture through the provision of Denaakk’e language instruction and immersing our students in the Koyukon Athabascan ways of knowing.