Alberta Education - Program of Studies - Aboriginal Studies 10


Aboriginal Studies 10 is a provincial course suitable for all students in Alberta schools.

The course is based on perspectives and worldviews of Aboriginal peoples. It includes the study of traditions and history of Aboriginal peoples in Canada, and particularly in Alberta. Student learning outcomes provide opportunities to examine such topics as governmental structures, literature, the arts and the sciences.

The four themes in Aboriginal Studies 10 are:

   Origin and Settlement Patterns

   Aboriginal Worldviews

   Political and Economic Organization

   Aboriginal Symbolism and Expression





Students will demonstrate an understanding of the diverse cultural characteristics, origins, and migration and settlement patterns of Aboriginal peoples.

Related Concepts: perspective, theory, origin, migration, oral tradition, legends, stories, linguistic groups, cultural groups, traditional territories, cultural diversity, cultural environment, circular seasonal time frames, Métis, Métis settlements, mutual support, mainstream society, colonial governance.


Students will:

1. demonstrate an understanding of different perspectives to the origin and settlement of Aboriginal peoples in North America:

       appreciate that many Aboriginal peoples identify with creation stories that introduce place and identity in their culture

       demonstrate an awareness that creation stories reflect spiritual connections to the land

       identify cultural characteristics to geographical features occupied by the first people on land

       examine oral cultural origins and settlement theory; e.g., research and compare Aboriginal

Creation to one or both of the following: Beringia theory, Polynesian theory

2. demonstrate an understanding that there are distinctive narrations of legends and stories that are related to cultural characteristics of Aboriginal peoples:

     appreciate the role of legends and stories of how Aboriginal peoples are interconnected to the land and nature

     distinguish between legends and stories of many diverse linguistic and cultural groups in Alberta and North America

     appreciate that Aboriginal peoples used sign language to communicate with each other and to communicate ideas and practices of land occupation in a particular territory

     research creation stories by interviewing Aboriginal Elders and researching current literature

3. demonstrate an understanding that Aboriginal peoples developed distinct cultures in differing Canadian environments:

     identify and locate the major linguistic and cultural groups in Alberta and Canada

     interpret Canada as being culturally diverse before the arrival of the Europeans

     appreciate that Aboriginal peoples shared many of the same characteristics and values; e.g., respect for nature, harmony with the land

4. recognize and demonstrate an understanding that Aboriginal peoples moved from place to place according to well-defined patterns:

     compare and contrast the main geographical regions of Canada, and examine how development of different Aboriginal cultures was influenced by various factors

     research and trace settlement and migration patterns from a historical perspective, and describe reasons for cultural migrations; e.g., investigate and trace the reasons for: buffalo hunt, cultural migratory routes, landmarks and hunting routes, intertribal awareness, leaders, alliances/treaties

     research how the geographical regions influenced Aboriginal culture by examining the following:

– behaviors/restrictions influenced by geographical factors

– harmony with land, clans, families

– spiritual forces in nature/interconnectedness

– sharing of resources

– plants and animals

     interpret, historically, that circular seasonal time frames were a major influence for moving from place to place

5. demonstrate an understanding that mutual support connected various Aboriginal peoples:

     appreciate that Aboriginal peoples’ practice of mutual support was essential for survival

     appreciate that the traditional concepts and practices of mutual support and conflict resolution have been adopted by mainstream society

6. demonstrate an understanding that, historically, Aboriginal peoples were sovereign nations and Europeans and Aboriginal nations coexisted in a state of mutual recognition of sovereign status with mutual economic benefits from trades:1

     research traditional Aboriginal governance and characteristics of organization; e.g., clans, families, bands, leaders/chiefs, councils of leaders/chiefs, leader/chief of council

     analyze that economic prosperity came through trade and early European contact

1. The Common Curriculum Framework for Aboriginal Language and Culture Programs: Kindergarten to Grade 12, Western Canadian Protocol for Collaboration in Basic Education, June 2000.

7. demonstrate an understanding that the Métis family unit gave rise to what is now known as the Métis people:

     identify and explain how Aboriginal peoples shared resources with fur traders, explorers, missionaries and settlers appreciate mutual support between Aboriginal peoples and colonial governance

     research the fur trade as an essential, mutual support for Aboriginal peoples

     investigate the origin of the Métis family, and describe similarities and differences between Métis and First Nations families

     recognize that the Métis advanced by adapting along with European technology and forming a new cultural identity; e.g., Métis sash, the fiddle, Red River jig, Métis flag, Red River cart, York boats

     research, identify and describe the development of Métis communities, including Métis settlements in Alberta

     appreciate Métis culture and lifestyle.


Students will demonstrate an understanding of aspects of Aboriginal spirituality and worldviews. 

Related Concepts: values, spirituality, worldviews, harmony, unity, oral tradition, cycle of life,

ceremonies, religions, animate, inanimate.


Students will:

1. demonstrate an understanding that spirituality is fundamental to traditional Aboriginal worldviews:

     examine how animate and inanimate objects are interrelated and respected in Aboriginal cultures

     examine why living in harmony and unity is essential to traditional Aboriginal cultures

     analyze the role of sharing and generosity in traditional Aboriginal cultures

     research the following aspects of spirituality by; e.g., interviewing a local Elder regarding: interrelationship of animate and inanimate, harmony, unity, sharing and generosity, protocols and accepted traditional practices

     appreciate and respect the value of Elders in helping people discover their inner gifts and strengths

     appreciate and respect the diversity of traditional spiritual beliefs and practices of Aboriginal peoples

2. demonstrate an understanding that Aboriginal stories on creation of the world and Aboriginal peoples provide a strong spiritual foundation:

     examine traditional Aboriginal stories on creation that have inspirational messages about young people recognizing their gifts, journeying to take on challenges and accomplishing feats to help others1

     examine the role of creation stories and legends in the lives of Aboriginal peoples in Canada

     appreciate and respect the diversity of oral traditions of Aboriginal peoples that provides the foundation for Aboriginal worldviews and spirituality

3. demonstrate an understanding that cycle of life is fundamental to the Aboriginal way of life:

     research the significance of the following symbols:

      the Circle2

      Medicine Wheel

     appreciate and respect that Aboriginal peoples traditionally view life and its interrelated parts as a never-ending cycle 

1. Îethkabi, A Study of a First Nation: A Program of Studies, ECS to Grade 12, April 2000.

2. The Common Curriculum Framework for Aboriginal Language and Culture Programs: Kindergarten to Grade 12, Western Canadian Protocol for Collaboration in Basic Education, June 2000.

4. demonstrate an understanding that ceremonies have strong spiritual and social significance:

     appreciate and respect that Aboriginal peoples have ceremonies to express their spiritual nature

     describe the general role and significance of non-sacred aspects of ceremonies by Aboriginal peoples; e.g., round dance, tea dance, powwows

5. demonstrate an understanding that after European contact, many Aboriginal peoples incorporated Christianity into their lifestyles.


Students will demonstrate an understanding of the political and economic organization of Aboriginal peoples.

Related Concepts: adaptation, interdependence, economy, economic partnership, entrepreneurship, community initiatives, alliances.


Students will:

1. demonstrate an understanding of the historical, political and economic organizations of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit people

2. demonstrate an understanding of how the interaction of two cultural groups has resulted in political and economic adaptation and/or interdependence:

     research and report on the influences of Europeans and Aboriginal peoples on each other

     compare economic and political structures of two groups; e.g., hereditary chiefs, band and tribal customs and Indian Act chief, Chiefs’ committee on economic development

3. demonstrate an understanding of the contributions of Aboriginal peoples to the historical trade:

     describe the roles of Aboriginal peoples in the Canadian fur trade—beaver, seal, buffalo

     evaluate the effects on Aboriginal peoples as the fur trade declined

     appreciate the contribution of Aboriginal peoples as fur traders and entrepreneurs of the West

     appreciate and respect contributions of the Buffalo Jump

4. demonstrate an understanding that many Aboriginal peoples have successfully entered into the world of business to improve their quality of life while keeping in balance traditional practices:

     analyze and evaluate how oil, gas and lumber entrepreneurships have changed the quality of life in Alberta Aboriginal communities

     analyze how traditional values of sharing and generosity influence economic practices of Aboriginal leaders in managing resources to improve the quality of life for Aboriginal peoples; e.g., economic development, self-government, maintaining a sustainable environment

     research and describe how Aboriginal peoples have successfully contributed in the provincial, national and international marketplace

5. demonstrate an understanding of the current issues being addressed by Aboriginal political and economic organizations:

     describe and analyze Aboriginal political and economic issues, including:

– poverty

– economic instability

– land cooperatives; e.g., in 1800s, small groups of Iroquois and voyageurs were brought from the east to work in trading companies—they settled in the Jasper and Grande Cache areas, intermarried with the Cree, and set up land cooperatives

     appreciate how leaders are striving to strengthen Aboriginal peoples economically and politically

6. demonstrate an understanding of why Aboriginal peoples of Canada have formed unique organizations and alliances to deal with the federal and/or provincial governments:

   First Nations: Assembly of First Nations (AFN), Tribal Councils (6, 7, 8, Independent)

   Métis: Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA)

     describe Aboriginal peoples organizations as to their mandates in:

– improving the quality of life

– self-government

– economic development

– protection of treaties

     appreciate the role of Aboriginal involvement in Alberta political and economic organizations.


Students will demonstrate an understanding of Aboriginal art forms, oral tradition and literature. 

Related Concepts: cultural transmission, values, beliefs, symbolism, analogy, diversity, cultural

expression, holistic, integration, interpersonal relationships.


Students will:

1. appreciate how oral traditions influence ideas, perspectives and interpretations:

     describe the central role and function of the oral tradition as a means of cultural transmission

     explain how oral tradition, legends, humour and stories assist in the transmission of culture

     respond to and appreciate the importance of the oral tradition in the education and socialization processes

2. interpret and recognize significant oral symbolism and expressions:

     explore the lives, experiences and values of Aboriginal authors through their writings

     examine the contributions made by Aboriginal authors

     identify how Aboriginal writers use symbolism, allusions and inference to portray their messages to the reader

     identify the different Aboriginal authors and how they use different methods in portraying their experiences. Select two Aboriginal authors; e.g., Maria Campbell, Verna Kirkness, Gail Bear:

explore the life experiences of Aboriginal authors and determine how they influenced what they wrote about

identify and evaluate the methods each author uses to bring the message to the reader

relate to how the authors portrayed the human experience through their writings

discuss how the authors’ beliefs and values influenced their writings

examine the purpose that each author had in mind

3. develop an understanding of many Aboriginal art forms, oral tradition and literature:

     identify and appreciate the diversity of cultural expression of Aboriginal peoples

     describe the relationship of environment expressed in the art form, oral tradition and literature of each Aboriginal group

     compare similarities and differences in expressions of environmental relationships

     develop an understanding that Aboriginal art reflects the belief that art is holistic in nature and is integrated in all aspects of Aboriginal life

     compare how Aboriginal oral tradition connects the expression of personal, spiritual, social and cultural aspects of that individual within the group

     appreciate Aboriginal philosophy, spirituality and love of land and nature.

Aboriginal Studies 10 (Senior High) (2002) ©Alberta Learning, Alberta, Canada


Last modified: Tuesday, 24 January 2017, 1:20 PM