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Native Pathways to Education
Alaska Native Cultural Resources
Indigenous Knowledge Systems
Indigenous Education Worldwide

I˝upiaq RavenIñupiat Ioitqusiat

A Special Publication of Alaska Newspapers Inc.

"Those things that make us who we are"

Portrait of a People - By the People
Originally a supplement to The Arctic Sounder

IMPORTANT: In order to view the pages correctly, you will need to download the Iñupiaq font (truetype) and install it on your computer. It's available as a free download from

A People of Value

This publication is an attempt to blend two goals: cultural education and media education. NANA’s Inupiat Ilitqusiat program strives to instill values that will serve children all their lives. The Village News Network strives to increase the Native voice in Alaska media. We came together to help each other.

Because of great distances and lack of cultural understanding between non-Native journalists and Native readers, the media is often criticized for not accurately reflecting the views of rural Alaskans. Sometimes that criticism is warranted. Sometimes it isn’t. But, Alaska media organizations do not need to wait until there are more Native journalists to try and better understand their audiences.

We already know there is a general feeling in rural Alaska that newspapers are intrusive and often sensational and insensitive. To change this pattern, we need to show readers that newspapers can be tools for social change as well as entertaining and informative. We need to show people that journalists are listening to them, not just writing about them.

To that end, Alaska Newspapers Inc. teamed up with the Inupiat Ilitqusiat program and the Northwest Arctic Borough School District to publish this special edition. For nine months we collected the artistic and written works of Inupiaq students and community members based on the 17 Inupiaq Values as defined by the Spirit Movement in the early 1980s.

Inupiaq across the state graciously offered their time by documenting values in a variety of written formats, sending family photos and taking photographs. We received poetry and short stories, essays and full-length articles. There was no restriction placed on the form of expression. Village English has been left intact. Only minor editing has taken place.

We intended to offer one “chapter” for each value because that’s the way Westerners think—everything fits into a category. When all was said and done, we realized that some of the material covered many values and touched upon feelings and ideas that could not be categorized. As a result, you’ll find that as in life, the values overlap and intertwine.

In addition, where titles were not provided, we did not insert them because to do so, we would have been interpreting what the writer meant and limiting their message.
The following pages cannot fully represent the spirit of an entire people. We knew they couldn’t when we started. But we have an obligation as journalists in regions where the culture is quite different than our own, to step back, observe, listen, develop a respect for differences and try to blend traditions. We don’t always have to adopt one tradition at the expense of another. The media is no exception.

Inupiaq from many different areas with varied backgrounds took the time to share a bit of who they are, in their own words. We want to thank them, and the sponsors, for attempting something new. In particular, thanks go out to the Ilitqusiat coordinators: Rachel Craig, Martha Whiting, Hannah Loon, Harriet Blair and Elmer Goodwin; they live their lives by the values they are charged with instilling.

Except for this introduction, the content of this publication is entirely Native produced. The pictures were either taken by Inupiat or submitted by Inupiat. We realize there are endless numbers of professionally-taken photographs out there, but they don’t represent the world through Native eyes.

Everyone involved with this publication recognized the importance of reinforcing a sense of pride in children, a feeling of worth, a connection with their heritage. The result is a publication of values: Inupiat values. Article End

Fern Greenbank
The Village News Network

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Alaska Native Knowledge Network
University of Alaska Fairbanks
PO Box 756730
Fairbanks  AK 99775-6730
Phone (907) 474.1902
Fax (907) 474.1957
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Last modified October 19, 2006