Ilisaġvik College was founded to primarily serve the residents of the North Slope Borough, America’s largest and most northern municipality. The intent of its founders was to provide an education based on the Iñupiaq cultural heritage. The basis for all Iḷisaġvik’s educational programs is the rich foundation of a 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.
Iñupiaqatigiigñiq: Traditional Iñupiat Values
- Qiksiksrautiqaġniq Iñuuniaġvigmun – Respect for Nature
- Aviktuaqatigiigñiq – Sharing
- Iñupiuraallniq – Knowledge of Language
- Paammaaġigñiq – Cooperation
- Iḷagiigñiq – Family and Kinship
- Piqpakkutiqaġniq suli Qiksiksrautiqaġniq Utuqqanaanun Allanullu – Love and Respect for Our Elders and One Another
- Quvianġuniq – Humor
- Anuniallaniq – Hunting Traditions
- Nagliktuutiqaġniq – Compassion
- Qiñuiññiq – Humility
- Paaqlaktautaiññiq – Avoidance of Conflict
- Ukpiqqutiqaġniq – Spirituality