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191 c h a p t e r 1 3 Iḷisa ̇ gvik College alaska’s only tribal college Pearl Kiyawn Brower (Iñupiaq Eskimo/Chippewa/Armenian) Indigenous leadership is a concept that has been present within Indigenous communities since time immemorial. However, because Indigenous communities have been subjugated to colonial policy for hundreds of years, the concept of Indigenous leadership has not been celebrated as it once was. This chapter will provide insight and information from the perspective of Indigenous leadership in a higher education context from Alaska’s only Tribal College, Iḷisaġvik College, in reference to what Indigenous leadership is, how it is exhibited within higher education, and what we can do to support our next generation of Indigenous leaders. Iḷisaġvik College, which in the Iñupiaq language means, “a place to learn,” was officially recognized as a stand-­ alone higher education program during the 1995–­ 1996 school year. Prior to that, the institution had taken on many forms of higher education to support the needs of the residents of the North Slope—­ the most northern region in the state of Alaska, home to the Iñupiaq Eskimo people. The long-­ standing support for formal education was a priority for the first mayor of the North Slope Borough, Eben Hopson, Sr., who is known on the North Slope for saying, “Education is the key to success.” Mayor Hopson knew that in order for the Iñupiaq people to succeed in the ever-­ globalizing world, they would need to be able to function, to thrive, in a society that recognized the importance of the Iñupiaq cultural heritage, as well as to function in a westernized system. With that in mind, Mayor Hopson pushed for a K-12 school system that was locally controlled and then incorporated culture into the curriculum, along with a higher education program that supported workforce development on the North Slope for its residents. In Ray Barnhardt’s article,“Higher Education in the Fourth World,” he states, “Very early in the deliberation, the people of the North Slope Borough identified 192 Pearl Kiyawn Brower education as a critical concern—­ in fact gaining control of their schools from the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs was one of the incentives for establishing the Borough in the first place. Control over education was viewed as essential if Iñupiat people were to have access to the kind of education they felt they needed to share their own destiny” (1991, p. 1). Higher Education on the North Slope: The Beginning From the 1980s to present day, formalized education within a context of a western world has been a driving economic force on the North Slope. The roots of Iḷisaġvik College date back to 1986, when the North Slope Borough reinstituted locally controlled higher education programs in the region through the creation of the North Slope Higher Education Center, a cooperative effort between the North Slope Borough and the University of Alaska Fairbanks (Iḷisaġvik College, Three Year Self Study, 2013, p. 5). Prior to 1980, the Iñupiat University of the Arctic was established with the goal of “an Iñupiat University based on Iñupiat educational perspectives, philosophies , principles and practices”(Barnhardt, 1991, p. 2). The concept stemmed from the need to staff schools and offices with local professionals. “The University offered a range of continuing education classes and vocational courses” (Condon, 1989, p. 2). One of the leaders of the University of the Arctic Program on the North Slope was Bill Vaudrin.Vaudrin supported education in rural communities . He touted a philosophy that those in rural communities would have an opportunity to be community, regional, and statewide leaders; therefore, educational systems should be designed at the local level, with local decision making being the driver (Vaudrin, 1975). Due to the nature of organizations, and the tumultuous times on the North Slope, the program had little success and was closed down. That did not stop Mayor Hopson, or the passion that was invoked in the people of the North Slope, from seeking a program that was culturally based and would support the people of the North Slope into the future. The next step was to implement the North Slope Higher Education Center. In January 1986, Mayor George Ahmaogak, Sr., passed North Slope Borough Ordinance 85–­ 23 establishing the North Slope Higher Education Center (NSHEC). The University of Alaska provided the credentials to sponsor the institution and certify credits (Condon, 1989). The...


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