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Ilakucaraq Year-Long Cohorts

Our Cohort program connects urban and rural Indigenous students from diverse cultures to foster positive identity development and achievement, build supportive networks of peers, and nurture the next generation of Native leaders who honor and steward Alaska Native cultures.

Through this program, participants attend 1 5-day immersion during their first summer in the program, stay connected with their cohort through virtual sessions throughout the school year, and attend a 2nd immersion the following summer. Each cohort attends 1 trip in an urban setting (Juneau or Anchorage), and 1 trip in a rural setting (Bethel, Kodiak, Utqiagvik, Dillingham).

Summer 2022: Our team worked with 42 Alaska Native students from across the state. We traveled to Kodiak, Bethel, and Kenai and had the opportunity to work with wonderful culture bearers in each community! The 2022-2023 cohorts will be traveling to Juneau during the 2023 summer, in the meantime, our cohorts are keeping in touch through our bi-monthly virtual sessions.

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[My understanding of Alaska Native cultures and communities is] different now because I've been able to see what the culture means to different people. Alaska Native culture is so much more diverse and important to me than it was before. - Youth participant after Ilakucaraq immersion

PROGRAM CONTACT

Helen John

Youth Program Coordinator
Email Contact
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Eligibility

  • Open to all Alaska Native youth currently in grades 8-11 interested in connecting with Alaska Native cultures. Youth must be at least 13 years old at the start of the program.

  • Rural and urban youth are encouraged to apply. Internet service and a computer provided for participants who would otherwise not be able to participate in parts of the programming.

  • If selected, youth must commit to participating for the entire cohort: one week of travel in summer 2023, one week of travel in summer 2024, and at least 1 virtual session per month during the school year. Applications will open on March 1st, 2023.

  • Please note that youth should be comfortable with traveling independently because some travel segments may be done on their own.

What to Expect

IP Cohorts are youth developmental and experiential learning programs that bring rural and urban Alaska Native youth together to explore their heritages, share their cultures, and find strength in being Indigenous. Each cohort starts and ends with a week-long immersion trip in two different Alaskan communities. Cohorts participate in virtual sessions between the immersions.

Bethel - Danielle Craven, students and dry fish

Example Day During Immersion

7:30am Wake Up

BREAKFAST

Morning Activities - Examples include learning more about yourself through guided self-reflection activities, visiting a museum, or sharing stories about what life is like in your hometown

LUNCH

Afternoon Activities - Examples include participating in a culture camp with local youth, going tidepooling or hiking, or learning from a local culture bearer

DINNER

Evening Activities - Examples include group games like charades, playing basketball or going to the swimming pool, or hanging out around a campfire

10:00pm Lights Out

Connect with self

Reflect on what influences your identity and try new things to better understand yourself. This self awareness opens the door for personal growth, leading to increased confidence and ability to step outside your comfort zone.

Connect with others

Develop meaningful relationships with cohort peers, immersion communities, and Culture Bearers that extend beyond the program. These connections strengthen your support network, build friendships, and deepen your respect for people different from yourself.

Kenai Kids
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Connect with cultures

Share your own culture and learn about the cultures of others, discovering how culture shapes who you are. Consider what it means to be Indigenous in different settings and embrace your culture and community as a source of strength.

This project is a partnership between the Alaska Native Heritage Center and the Alaska Humanities Forum, and is funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Alaska Native Education Program.


If you have any questions about our program, or would like to be added to our contact list, please email us at ilakucaraq@akhf.org or call (907)717-1256.

AKHF: Celebrating 50 Years!

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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