Oscar Kawagley was born at Mamterilleq (now known as Bethel,
Alaska). His parents died when he was two years old and so
was raised by a grandmother. Yupiaq was his first language
as his grandmother could not speak English. During his
grandmother's early childhood, her parents would not allow her to
go to school, saying that she would become dumb. The grandson
caught the tail-end of the upper stone age from which his grandmother
and Yupiaq people emerged from into the modern age. His grandmother
encouraged his obtaining education. Coming from a harmonious
world, he feels this prepared him well to try to fit into two worlds.
He is now researching and trying to find ways in which his Yupiaq
people's language and culture are used in the classroom to meld
the modern to the Yupiaq thought world.
Dr. Kawagley serves as Associate
Professor of Education at the University of Alaska Fairbanks College
of Liberal Arts. He has a Bachelors of Education with a major
in Biological Sciences; a Masters of Education, Ed. Sp. in Administration
from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and a Ph.D. from the University
of British Columbia.
He has been executive director of
several nonprofit corporations; President of ESCA Corporation, an
earth science and remote sensing consulting company; President of
Calista Corporation, a native regional corporation; project director
of the Indian Education Act Program, Anchorage Borough School District;
school teacher; research assistant, Mental Health Unit, Alaska Native
Medical Center; and research assistant, Chemistry and Biology Department,
Arctic Health Research Center.