Ilakucaraq means "being together" in Yugtun, the language of the Yup'ik people of Southwest Alaska.

(Pronounced: Ee-la-cou-jaw-ga-ck)

Ilakucaraq participants build confidence in their cultural identities while forming a supportive community with other Alaska Native youth from around the state. Understanding culture as a source of strength helps students navigate high school and find success in post-secondary opportunities and beyond.

Key program components include:

  • Personal reflections
  • Positive self- and cultural identity formation
  • Cross-cultural experiences
  • Peer-to-peer learning and discussions
  • Elder and culture bearer teachings
  • Art and storytelling
Ilakucaraq Students

Ilakucaraq is a partnership between the Alaska Humanities Forum, the Alaska Native Heritage Center, and Mt. Edgecumbe High School.

The Alaska Humanities Forum’s Ilakucaraq youth programs are open to all Alaska Native high school students located anywhere in Alaska. Both rural and urban students are encouraged to participate.

One-Off Programs
Year-Long Cohorts

The Alaska Native Heritage Center’s Indigenous Awareness and Culturally Responsive Teaching Professional Development course for Alaska educators is also part of Ilakucaraq.


Emily Brockman

Youth Program Manager
Email Contact

One-Off Programs

Ilakucaraq facilitates free educational programs for groups of Alaska Native youth in grades 9-12 to foster a strong sense of pride about who they are and where they come from.

Students value our programs.

I learned what culture shock was, and I had not known what that was. I didn’t know I had experienced it a lot. - Sealaska Heritage Institute Summer Camp student

I learned to never give up; you'll always find a way. - Kusilvak Career Academy student

I feel a lot more respected as an Alaska Native. - Sealaska Heritage Institute Summer Camp student

Map IP programming

Program Offerings

Programs engage participants in self-reflection and discussion, strengthening connections between students. The programs complement each other, so the same group of students will benefit from doing both Program 1 and Program 2.


Students share a personal story in small groups about something that has shaped them. These stories serve as the foundation for reflecting on cultural values and a discussion about positive cultural identity.


Participants learn about the concept of culture shock and consider how this may apply to them after they graduate from high school. They are exposed to a Native student’s experience with going to a college where other students did not understand her Native culture. This leads to a discussion about the challenges of leaving home and how students can better navigate their lives after high school when they are grounded in their cultural identities.

Program Length: 1 hour - 1.5 hours

Suggested Audiences: School classes, after school programs, career and education fairs, and any other groups of predominantly Alaska Native youth in grades 9-12.

Group Size: 5-25

We can adapt our programs to meet the needs of your students or event. Programs can be virtual or in-person. We may be able to travel outside Southcentral Alaska.

Contact our team at or 907-717-1256 to discuss how we can bring these programs to your students or events.


Year-Long Cohorts

IP Cohorts bring rural and urban Alaska Native youth together to explore their heritages, share their cultures, and find strength in being Indigenous. The year-long experience allows each cohort to become a tight-knit community that supports one another as participants build confidence in who they are and their relationship to their cultures.


Mt. Edgecumbe High School Partnership

The Forum also leads Ilakucaraq programming for Mt. Edgecumbe High School’s Junior Advisory class. This class guides high school juniors through the process of identifying their values and post-high school aspirations.

Through multi-day intensives and virtual sessions, Junior Advisory students talk with Alaska Native role models about their experiences after high school, learn how a strong sense of cultural identity is related to college success, and further their understanding of how their identities are shaped.


Indigenous Awareness and Culturally Responsive Teaching Professional Development 

ED 55500: Indigenous Awareness and Culturally Responsive Teaching is an Elder Instructor-led course approved by the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development for teacher certification in Alaska. This 3 credit course for K-12 educators, including veteran teachers seeking recertification, is offered through a partnership between the Alaska Native Heritage Center’s Ilakucaraq Project and the Alaska Pacific University.

For more information, contact Alice Hisamoto at 907-802-0250 or

The Ilakucaraq Project is funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Alaska Native Education Program.


Meet the Team!


My name is Emily Maurveluviiluq Brockman. My mother's people are Yup'ik from Togiak and Aleknagik and my fathers are German-immigrant farmers from Carson, Iowa. I was born and raised in Dillingham in Bristol Bay, made a home and graduated high school in Seward, and now work and play in Anchorage. I enjoy drinking kuuvviaq (coffee) with a good book, eating lavender cookies, and rotating forms of exercise with the seasons!


My name is Molissa Udevitz. My ancestors are European, and my parents moved to Alaska before I was born. I grew up in Eagle River playing outside, taking dance classes, and performing. I left Alaska after high school but chose to come back and now call Anchorage home. Outside of work, I enjoy hiking, cross-country skiing, dancing, and listening to podcasts.


My name is Gordon Aghqunqaq Iya. I am of Siberean Yupik descent, from the communities of Nome and Savoonga Alaska. Family is currently living and working in Anchorage. My hobbies and passions include anything and everything to do with St. Lawrence Island drumming and dancing, spending time outdoors with my fur babies and wife, along with TV/video gaming (also with wife).


My name is Helen Panruk Apaliq John. My dad's side of the family is Yup'ik from Nunakauyaq (Tooksook Bay), AK, and my mom's side of the family is Iñupiaq from Unalakleet, AK. I was raised in Bethel and have lived in Anchorage for about 10 years now. I get joy from trying new foods/restaurants, being outside in the summer, and spending time with good company.

Alaska Humanities Forum

The Alaska Humanities Forum is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that designs and facilitates experiences to bridge distance and difference – programming that shares and preserves the stories of people and places across our vast state, and explores what it means to be Alaskan.

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