Cultures with Connections

Grades 4&6

Pre-Visit Activities   |   Post-Visit Activities  |  Explanation & Notes (pdf)  |  Key Terms & Concepts (pdf)

Nineteenth century New Bedford whalemen established cultural and economic ties with ports in Hawaii and Alaska. Native Hawaiians supplied food and additional crew to whaling vessels. The Iñupiat people of northern Alaska taught whalemen new ways to hunt and survive the harsh winters. Inspired by New Bedford’s participation in the ECHO project, this program provides experiential activities to reinforce the common thread of history that connects these three regions.

Learning standards will be met as students:

  • Identify the differences in the climate, physical characteristics and major natural resources of New Bedford, Hawaii and northern Alaska
  • Use maps to locate regions in the United States
  • Recognize the diverse nature of the American people
  • Investigate objects to understand cultural traditions, ceremonies and celebrations Interpret native Hawaiian and Alaskan stories


Suggested Pre-Visit Activities

Identify the location of New Bedford, Hawaii, Alaska, the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean and the Arctic Ocean.

Discuss wind and ocean currents – these played a very important role in whaling in the 19th century

Define culture: the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations

Culture thus consists of language, ideas, beliefs, customs, taboos, codes, institutions, tools, techniques, works of art, rituals, ceremonies, and symbols (

Suggested Post-Visit Activities

Compare and contrast the climate, topography, types of vegetation and natural resources found in Massachusetts, Hawaii, and the North Slope of Alaska.

Discuss the importance of oral histories in Native cultures. Have students identify stories that they have heard family members tell. Students can then interview family members, record the details of one story and share it with the class.

Have students write a thank you note to the docents (museum volunteers) using at least one new vocabulary word they learned during their visit to the Museum.