Study the semi-subterranean sod house used by the Iñupiat (northern Eskimos) of the North Slope of Alaska

Investigating a North Slope Ivrulik teaches students about a sod-covered, half-underground house found in northern Alaska and the Iñupiaq people who lived in them, through archaeological and historical inquiry. In this investigation students will study the semi-subterranean sod house used by the Iñupiat (northern Eskimos) of the North Slope of Alaska. The investigation is comprehensive and uses the most authentic data sources available. It is organized into four instructional parts and an assessment which can be separated and taught over several days.

  • Part One introduces Mr. George Leavitt and gives the students background information on the geographic location of the Ivrulik site they will be studying.
  • Part Two focuses on the history of the Ivrulik using historic photographs and information about Iñupiaq dwellings based on the information from Mr. George Leavitt and archaeologists.
  • In Part Three the students work with artifacts and quadrant maps of the Ivrulik site to make inferences about how the Ivrulik was used by the Iñupiaq people.
  • Part Four connects the past to the present. Students learn the importance of preserving archaeological sites and how traditional ivrulik architecture influences modern buildings that Iñupiat use today.
  • In the Assessment students write an expository composition describing what they learned in the investigation and draw a modern day shelter incorporating three ideas from the Iñupiaq beliefs or way of life.

Instructions for the Teacher:
The teacher’s document is 29 pages, consisting of background information, and four sections corresponding to the student notebook. It includes archaeologists’ interpretations of the Ivrulik site and details about the artifacts found. Quadrant maps and artifact cards from the archaeological site are provided for the students to study and use.

Student Archaeology Notebook:
The student notebook is 39 pages of data collection sheets about a North Slope Ivrulik. It contains all of the data sources and analytical tools the students will need to investigate an ivrulik from historical, archaeological, and cultural perspectives. Mr. George Leavitt, an Iñupiat elder, guides students through the investigation. Through archaeology students analyze historic photographs, discover artifacts left behind, make a toggle harpoon, and infer how the geography of the North Slope of Alaska shaped the ivrulik.

The password is the first word on page 79 of the Project Archaeology: Investigating Shelter curriculum guide.