We are Iḷisaġvik – Iḷisaġviurugut

Ilisaġvik College was founded to primarily serve the residents of the North Slope Borough, America’s northernmost municipality. The intent of its founders was to provide an education based on the Iñupiaq cultural heritage. The basis for all of Iḷisaġvik’s educational programs is the rich foundation of subsistence culture in harmony with the land and seas that give it sustenance.

Iḷisaġvik College is a direct outgrowth of the Native American self-determination movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. With the formation of a home-rule government called the North Slope Borough in 1972, the Iñupiat people took their first steps towards regaining control of their lives and destinies.

The founders of the North Slope Borough were acutely aware of the importance of education to their dreams of sustained self-determination and local control for their people. While overseeing the rapid transformation of the North Slope Borough from small subsistence communities into modern villages with modern amenities, they also looked toward the development of a post-secondary educational system that would allow local residents to further their educational goals while remaining close to the culture and lifestyle that sustained them.

In 1986, the North Slope Borough created the North Slope Higher Education Center, a cooperative effort between the North Slope Borough and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The North Slope Higher Education Center’s Board and the North Slope Borough Assembly changed the institution’s name to Arctic Sivunmun Iḷisaġvik College in 1991 to reflect its transformation into a community college. Arctic Sivunmun Iḷisaġvik College merged with the Mayor’s Workforce Development Program in 1993, adding facilities and resources to support the growing number of vocational education opportunities available at the college. In 1995, the North Slope Borough established by ordinance the Iḷisaġvik College Corporation, an independent, public, non-profit corporation with full power for governance of the college vested in the Board of Trustees.

Iḷisaġvik achieved accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities in 2003 and is authorized by the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education to operate in the state of Alaska. In 2006, it also became the first and only federally recognized tribal college in Alaska.


Iḷisaġvitkuayaat nalunaiġukkaat iñuuniaġuutilaaqput savaguutilaaqpullu nunaŋanni Iñupiat. Nunuuraiḷaakun Iñupiagurugut tainnamik qiksigigivut iñuit, iñuuniaġniq, niġrutit, nuna suli taġiuq.

Iḷisaġvik College would like to acknowledge that we live and work on the land of the Iñupiat. We are unapologetically Iñupiaq and we honor the people, culture, animals, land, and ocean.

Iñupiaqatigiigñiq: Traditional Iñupiat Values

  • Qiksiksrautiqaġniq Iñuuniaġvigmun – Respect for Nature
  • Aviktuaqatigiigñiq – Sharing
  • Iñupiuraallaniq – Knowledge of Language
  • Paammaaġiigñiq – Cooperation
  • Iḷagiigñiq – Family and Kinship
  • Piqpakkutiqaġniq suli Qiksiksrautiqaġniq Utuqqanaanun Allanullu – Love and Respect for Our Elders and One Another
  • Quvianġuniq – Humor
  • Aŋuniallaniq – Hunting Traditions
  • Naglikkutigaġniq – Compassion
  • Qiñuiññiq – Humility
  • Paaqłakkutaiġñiq – Resolution of Conflict
  • Ukpiqqutiqaġniq – Spirituality

Statement of Academic Freedom

Integral to its mission and values, Iḷisaġvik College supports the concept of academic freedom to ensure the excellence of the College’s instructional programs. Iḷisaġvik recognizes the right of each individual faculty member to exercise considerable freedom in the application of their professional expertise in the classroom. Instructors may present course materials that are controversial or uncomfortable. While students are not expected to change their own personal opinions or beliefs, they are required to complete all assignments and activities related to the course. The principle of academic freedom is to foster open minds, creative imaginations, adventurous spirits, and a spirit of inquiry and scholarly criticism within the Iḷisaġvik community.

Iḷisaġvik adheres to the principles of academic freedom and independence that protect its students, staff, and faculty from inappropriate influences, pressures, and harassment that impact the integrity of the College’s learning environment. At Iḷisaġvik, freedom of speech and expression is not absolute: verbal and written speech that is libelous, slanderous, incites to riot, or is unlawfully harassing is not protected.

In affirming the principles of academic freedom and free expression, Iḷisaġvik recognizes that our faculty, staff, and students are subject to applicable state and federal laws. In addition, faculty and staff must adhere to Iḷisaġvik’s employee policies, and students must adhere to the Student Handbook, which shall be consistent with this statement and the principles expressed herein.

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