The Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian have traveled the Inside Passage by yaakw, or canoe, since time immemorial. These boats enabled people to hunt, fish, and trade in a region where communities are geographically isolated (Berg, 2014). Prior to contact, yaakw would have been a common sight on Southeast Alaska’s waterways. However, canoe building was outlawed, along with many other traditional practices, and the number of yaakw plummeted by the early 20th century (Berg, 2014).

Artisans and culture bearers held the knowledge of canoe making and passed it along covertly to ensure it was not lost completely. Today, there is a revitalization effort underway by master carvers and their apprentices to make sure that once again the yaakw will be seen throughout the region.

Like in many other fields and technologies, scale models of the yaakw were and are created to learn about canoes and preserve the canoe culture. In this lesson, students will create a paper canoe model, and use their knowledge of scale to determine the length, width, and height of a full-size canoe. After completing their calculations, students will create a model or outline of the full-size canoe. In this lesson, students will scale up from a model but will end the lesson thinking about how they can use their knowledge of scale to create a model from a full-size canoe.