Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) has entered into a three-way partnership with the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA), and the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) to provide enhanced and expanded Northwest Coast (NWC) art programs and opportunities for Alaska students.
Dr. Robert Martin, President of the Institute of American Indian Arts and a member of the Cherokee Nation, said that IAIA currently has an average of 10 Alaska Native students enrolled per semester, out of around 475, and he is hoping to see that number triple.
“We’ve had a long history of Alaska Native students in IAIA and this is going to give us an opportunity to increase those numbers dramatically,” Martin said.
Currently, UAS offers a certificate in NWC art, and is in the process of developing a two-year degree. Through a plan outlined in the agreement, students who have completed two years of study at UAS may then transfer to IAIA to complete a four-year degree.
Richard A. Caulfield, Chancellor of UAS, said the partnership represents a renewed commitment to the Northwest Coast arts program.
SHI will work with both educational institutions to provide expertise on NWC art, culture and history. Initiatives include providing visiting artists a working space in the Walter Soboleff Building, developing a Visiting Art Scholars Program for graduate students and researchers, providing access to SHI’s archives and art collections, and seeking guidance from SHI’s Native Artist Committee on the direction and development of arts programming.
Caulfield said UAS faculty member Dr. Mique’l Dangeli has been instrumental in moving the program forward since her arrival in August.