Indigenous Initiatives

Other Native Initiatives

The University of Alaska Anchorage Office of Institutional Effectiveness, Engagement and Academic Support, the UAA Center for Advancing Faculty Excellence, and the Difficult Dialogues Initiative have collaborated on a wide range of projects and programs related to Alaska Native issues and students at UAA. 

Here are some examples of those efforts:

UAA/APU Books of the Year
The theme for the 2008-9 UAA/APU Books of the Year was “Alaska’s Native Peoples:  A Call to Understanding.” Three books were selected that addressed critical issues, corrected historical inaccuracies, and authentically represented Alaskan Native cultures, communities, and peoples.

Yuuyaraq: The Way of the Human Being by Harold Napoleon outlines the initial effects and continuing impact of the epidemics that afflicted Alaska Native people from the 1770s through the 1940s. Napoleon’s premise is that this death on a massive scale wiped out the culture-bearers and left psychological and spiritual scars that continue today. Routes to healing are also discussed.
Growing up Native in Alaska by A.J. McClanahan includes interviews with
27 young Alaska Native leaders about their lives, their futures, the impact of the
Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, and how they are “finding innovative and
creative ways to live in two worlds.”

Alaska Native Cultures and Issues:  Responses to Frequently Asked Questions edited by Libby Roderick (originally titled Do Alaska Native People Get Free Medical Care?),
was prepared by UAA/APU faculty and Anchorage community members as a companion to the Books of the Year. It provides responses to common questions about Alaska Native issues and includes recommended readings on a wide variety of topics including identity, language and culture; subsistence; ANCSA; the effects of colonialism; education and health care; and the future.

2008-09 Books of the Year programming included community forums and a series of student roundtable discussions. Topics were inspired by chapters in Alaska Native Cultures and Issues: Responses to Frequently Asked Questions.

Warriors for a New Era:  Challenging Alaska Native Young People to Repower their Lives
A five-part series designed to build bridges between emerging and established Alaska Native leaders on topics such as Internalized Oppression, Subsistence, Leadership, Connecting the Generations.

UAA Student Statewide Alaska Native Subsistence Student Summit, 2011
The Summit addressed and proposed solutions to the real life issue of subsistence currently under deliberation by the Alaska Federation of Natives and Alaskan tribes. The Summit was sponsored by the Alaska Humanities Forum and the UAA Diversity Action Council, with support from the UAA Office of Institutional Effectiveness, Engagement and Academic Support, the UAA Alaska Native Studies Program, and the UAA Center for Advancing Faculty Excellence. Co-taught by Nancy Furlow and Larry Merculieff. 

Course on Alaska Native Perspectives on Western Science and Environmentalism. Sponsored by the UAA Office of Institutional Effectiveness, Engagement and Academic Support. Taught by Larry Merculieff.

Programs sponsored or co-sponsored by the UAA Center for Advancing Faculty Excellence:

Native Case Studies Faculty Workshops and Institutes
Between 2009 and the present, UAA has hosted workshops and institutes (or faculty attendance at conferences) to acquaint faculty and community members with the writing and use of case studies based in Indian country, as developed and taught by the Evergreen State College Enduring Legacies project. Sponsorship also provided by the UAA College of Business and Public Policy.

Alaska Native Students and Issues Faculty Learning Community, 2011
A six-session series focusing on programs and practices with demonstrated success in assisting Native students to achieve their academic goals.  Led by Dr. Jeane Breinig, UAA English Department, Associate Dean, College of Arts and Sciences.

New Faculty Orientation
UAA’s annual introduction to Alaska Native cultures and students for its new faculty. Followed by an open house for new faculty to discover support services for Alaska Native students. Co-sponsored with the UAA Native Student Services Department.

Faculty Workshops
Topics include Indigenizing the University, Inupiat Math; Alaska Native Student Success, Culturally Responsive Teaching, and an Alaska Native Student Panel.

Public Policy Debates and Faculty Forums
Topics include “Does the state of Alaska have an obligation to act to prevent climate change?”, “Should the state of Alaska devote resources to sustain rural villages?” and “Should all Alaska educators should be required to participate in an Alaska Native-designed cultural orientation program.”  Podcasts available here:

Cultural Introduction Program
A partnership with Alaska Humanities Forum’s Take Wing Alaska program that sends faculty out to Alaska Native fish and culture camps in summer to help them understand the experiences of Alaska’s Native peoples and students. Faculty then serve as liaisons to Native students attending UAA.

Participation in First Alaskans’ Alaska Native Dialogues on Racial Equity (2011-13)
A statewide dialogue project on race, racism and racial equity, which seeks to:
- Reset and reshape the dialogue on race in Alaska by bringing people together to challenge perceptions through community conversations
- Seek to raise the level of awareness and healing around and race and racism
- Advance policy solutions towards racial equity