The mission of the Department of Iñupiat History, Language and Culture is to document, preserve and perpetuate the history, language and culture of the North Slope Region and to ensure that cultural issues are given appropriate consideration during the planning process.
The Department accomplishes this mission by:
- Assisting with Iñupiaq language revitalization efforts.
- Collecting and documenting cultural information.
- Digitizing and cataloguing cultural and historical information.
- Sharing history, language and culture through tourism.
- Developing dynamic exhibits and education programs.
- Publishing material pertaining to Iñupiat history, language and culture.
- Making cultural materials such as traditional clothing and goods more easily and widely available.
- Assisting with Iñupiaq cultural orientation and translation services.
- Researching and developing educational, historical and cultural materials for enrichment of classroom use by working in close cooperation with all stakeholders;
- Utilizing the Iñupiat Heritage Center and the Simon Paneak Memorial Museum as dynamic repositories and conveyors of traditional cultural knowledge, values and skills.
- Collecting, recording, preserving, documenting, displaying and interpreting artifacts and other associated materials relating to the history, culture and traditions of the Iñupiat people.
Drawing upon traditional Iñupiaq knowledge, the museums assume an active and supportive role in local and Borough wide cultural awareness, enrichment and educational programs.
The Department’s actions help fulfill the North Slope Borough’s founding commitment to document, preserve and perpetuate its Iñupiaq heritage.
The Department is responsible for the efficient and economical administration of the duties and responsibilities of the Iñupiat History, Language and Culture (IHLC) Commission as outlined in North Slope Borough Municipal Code (NSBMC) Chapter 2.16.
A. Central Office
The Central Office is responsible for the overall administration, management and direction of the Department, in accordance with the IHLC Commission’s vision and strategic plan. Central Office staff performs day-to-day administrative tasks and is the first contact with the public and other departments.
The Central Office also provides administrative support to the North Slope Borough Commission on Iñupiat History, Language and Culture.
B. Cultural Resources
This program is responsible for updating the Traditional Land Use Inventory in collaboration with the Department of Planning & Community Services. By working closely with the community, the goal of this program is to assist in the update of the traditional land use inventory and to help make IHLC collections more easily and readily available to all stakeholders. Employees lead in the documentation, preservation and perpetuation of the region’s rich cultural heritage in all North Slope communities. This program also oversees the Community Outreach Program, formerly known as Elders/Youth Conferences.
In collaboration with all staff, this program assists with digitizing efforts as well as productions based on oral histories. Oral history collections include traditional land use studies, historical accounts, stories, legends and life histories in all media formats.
C. Iñupiat Heritage Center
Based on the philosophical foundation of the Qargi, the Iñupiat Heritage Center (IHC) brings people together to promote and perpetuate Iñupiat history, language and culture. This dynamic interaction between the Iñupiat and their environment fosters the awareness, understanding and appreciation of the Iñupiat way of life from generation to generation.
The Heritage Center promotes tourism and supports Iñupiat artists by providing a place in which to work on and showcase arts and crafts. It also serves to support the whaling traditions of the Iñupiat by making available the Traditional Room for traditional whaling boat construction and repair.
The purpose of the center is to collect, preserve and display artifacts, objects and associated materials such as photographs, written documents, audio and video recordings and other information relating to the history, culture and lifestyle, both past and present, of the North Slope Iñupiat. This is accomplished by the presentation, dissemination and interpretation of these materials through public exhibitions, educational programs and continuing research.
The primary goal of IHC is to reinforce and support our sense of cultural identity and awareness by serving as a resource and focal point for the elders and educators of the community to pass on traditional knowledge, skills and values to our young people.
The Heritage Center provides a place for cultural revitalization efforts, provides space for public meetings and serves the various departments of the North Slope Borough through its services.
D. Simon Paneak Memorial Museum (SPMM)
The mission of the Simon Paneak Memorial Museum is to serve as a very unique Arctic home based museum as a dynamic repository and conveyors of our history, language, and culture, and for the people of the North Slope region and all guests. As dynamic repositories and conveyors of traditional cultural knowledge, values and skills by collecting, recording, preserving, documenting, displaying and interpreting artifacts and other associated materials relating to the history, culture and traditions of the Iñupiat people.
Drawing upon this reservoir of knowledge, the Museum assume an active and supportive role in both local and Borough wide cultural awareness, enrichment and educational programs by working in close cooperation with community leaders, village leaders, the North Slope Borough Inupiat History, Language and Culture Commission, the North Slope Borough School District and Ilisagvik College to research and develop historical and cultural material for classroom use.
The purpose of the Museum is to collect, preserve and display artifacts, objects and associated materials such as photographs, written documents, audio and video recordings and other information relating to the history, culture and lifestyle, both past and present, of the Nunamiut Inupiat. This is accomplished by the presentation, dissemination and interpretation of these materials through public exhibitions, educational programs and continuing research.
To protect and care for and curate the collection, to maintain current records of the collection, to search out archival materials for build our collection, to contribute local research document with elders, and to make this information to the public through, and to share information with North Slope Borough for planning purposes.
Another important goal is to become the primary resource center and clearing house for information that has been gathered by visiting scientists concerning the Nunamiut Iñupiat.
An additional goal is to serve as an informational and educational resource for visitors who are unfamiliar with the Brooks Range environment, or the historical and culture traditions of the Nunamiut.
Goals and Objectives
GOAL 1: CONTINUOUS REVITALIZATION OF THE INUPIAQ LANGUAGE
Obj. 1.1: Review and continue implementation of the Iñupiaq Language Summit report.
Obj. 1.2: Assist, promote and support the NSBSD and Iḷisaġvik College with Iñupiaq language learning efforts.
Obj. 1.3: Disseminate to the general public information on Iñupiaq language revitalization efforts.
Obj. 1.4: Utilize current and new technologies to promote Inupiaq language learning.
Obj. 1.5: Support and reinforce efforts for the development of Iñupiaq language teachers.
GOAL 2: ACCREDITATION FOR IHC AND SPMM
Obj. 2.1: Complete core documents required for accreditation.
GOAL 3: CONTINUE HISTORIC PRESERVATION EFFORTS IN THE REGION
Obj. 3.1: Complete the Historic preservation plan and update nominations to the National Register of Historic Places.
Obj. 3.2: Assist to create site-specific cultural reports and maps as may be required by the North Slope Borough.
Obj. 3.3: Assist with requirements of archaeological clearances for North Slope Borough development permit application process in order to protect culturally sensitive archaeological sites within the North Slope Borough.
Obj. 3.4: Incorporate updated data, information and traditional knowledge into the Alaska Heritage Resource Survey data system and the Traditional Land Use Inventory.
Obj. 3.5: Provide updates of archaeological sites, ice cellars, campsites and graves to the borough’s geographic information system.
GOAL 4: MAINTAIN CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENTS TO THE DATABASES CONTAINING DOCUMENTATION OF TRADITIONAL LAND USE, ORAL HISTORIES, AUDIO, VIDEO AND PHOTOGRAPHIC COLLECTIONS
Obj. 4.1: Maintain continuous updates to the Past Perfect database.
Obj. 4.2: Maintain continuous staff training and technical resource enhancements in order to keep databases technologically updated and accessible.
Obj. 4.3: Ensure that pertinent NSB departments and organizations have access to databases.
GOAL 5: INCREASE THE USE OF THE SPMM AND IHC AS LANGUAGE LEARNING INSTITUTIONS AND CONVEYORS OF TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE THROUGH COMMUNITY OUTREACH
Obj. 5.1: Conduct, promote and support activities, programs and functions that perpetuate Iñupiat history, language and culture.
Obj. 5.2: Conduct, promote and support community based elders and youth conferences.
Obj. 5.3: Promote and reinforce efforts of Ilisagvik College and NSBSD to recruit and train Iñupiaq language teachers and teachers of traditional knowledge.
GOAL 6: CONTINUE TO DEVELOP, COMPLETE, PUBLISH, ARCHIVE AND DISTRIBUTE HISTORICAL RECORDS OF THE LAND, PEOPLE, AND COMMUNITIES OF THE NORTH SLOPE BOROUGH
Obj. 6.1: Review traditional land use place names with community members in collaboration with the Planning Department.
Obj. 6.2: Assist in the creation of place name maps based on the Traditional Land Use Inventory.
Obj. 6.3: Develop new publications and exhibits using artifact collections, oral histories and photographs.
Obj. 6.4: Update data, information and traditional knowledge of land use publications for inclusion in North Slope Borough community development plans.