Cook Inlet Native Head Start

Anchorage, Alaska

Cook Inlet Native Head Start front entrance with Alaskan animal play structures

The new Cook Inlet Native Head Start (CINHS) school is unique in its complete integration of Alaska Native traditional culture and contemporary educational leadership.

The school sits sheltered in the greenbelt of Chester Valley but is visible through the trees from C Street. The beadwork-inspired exterior tile and curving classroom wings announce the specificity of the place – a school for all Alaska Native peoples, deeply rooted in Dena’ina Athabascan homeland.

The CINHS classrooms are nurturing spaces with warm, calm finishes, heated floors and indirect lighting. The central firepit and smoke hole light features, located in each room emphasize an educational philosophy focused on community sharing of stories and wisdom. The rooms open directly to remarkable playgrounds that stimulate the bodies and imaginations of children, while teaching them about traditional ways of life.

Playground at Cook Inlet Native Head Start