Our desire is to see men and women journey down the road of a living heart relationship with Jesus in a transformative way – one which does not require the rejection of their Creator-given social and cultural identity.

Traditionally, Native People did not talk about spirituality or faith, nor did they build complex theologies. They simply lived what they believed. It was expected that one would live in such a way as to acknowledge and honour their Creator. Theology was practice!
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Native scholar Taiaiake Alfred asks,

"What is “Indigenizing the academy?” To me, it means that we are working to change universities so that they become places where the values, principles, and modes of organization and behaviour of our people are respected in, and hopefully even integrated into, the larger system of structures and processes that make up the university itself."

From its very creation NAIITS has been asking a similar question, not only within the academic community, but also within the Indigenous and non-Indigenous evangelical community.

From the day of its formation to the present, NAIITS has been a Native North American led organization dedicated to introducing change into the education and practice of evangelical Christian mission and theology. NAIITS has pressed forward believing that the Christian community had essentially written them (and their culture) out of the story of the church since the earliest period of colonization.

In many cases, the active listening, which NAIITS board members engaged in within their respective communities, has produced “new and powerful knowledge” which has led to social action in their community contexts. Much of this “new and powerful knowledge” emerges in the academic journals that are published following the NAIITS symposiums.

NAIITS has held thirteen symposiums on Indigenous theology and mission in the past 16 years, with a now-established rotation to its partner institutions:

• Portland Seminary (Formerly George Fox), Newberg, OR
• Tyndale University College and Seminary, Toronto, ON
• Acadia University and Divinity College, Wolfville, NS
• Whitley College, Melbourne, Australia

The fifteenth NAIITS summer symposium in North American is scheduled for and will be co-hosted by Acadia University and Divinity College, June 7-9, 2018 and the second annual in Australia to be held in concert with the second block of courses, March 4-16, 2018.

The now annual NAIITS journal is produced from the presentations and papers of each symposium, with the 14th volume published in 2016. Concerning its publication, Terry LeBlanc reflects, “For many of us the journal, and the organization it speaks for, is just another marker—though a particularly significant one—in a series of events and outcomes which have been dreamt about and hoped for and which are at last coming into being.”

NAIITS is unique in that its founding and management has been by Indigenous people. NAIITS board members have been and remain fully connected with local Indigenous communities. Many of its members maintain an active dialogue with global Indigenous peoples, listening to the needs of these communities with regards to Christian mission, ministry and theology. In fact, NAIITS members greatly value their commitments to the Indigenous North American community, and prioritize them highly. Prior to NAIITS there were few efforts in advanced theological education. Most were birthed in the hearts and minds of the non-Native community, delivered in their way.
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Since its inception in the late 1990s, and organizational birth in the year 2001, NAIITS has become a well-recognized and well-respected group of Indigenous women and men (and non-Indigenous colleagues) dedicated to the advancement of Indigenous people within the wider compass of those who follow the Jesus way.

Some of the accomplishments since its beginnings include the following:

Educational Programs

In June of 2010 NAIITS entered an historic agreement with George Fox University and to begin delivery of a Masters degree in Intercultural Studies [MAIS] for Native North American and other Indigenous students. The first cohort of 11 students launched May 31 of 2011 with the first graduates in the spring of 2014. Enrolment has approximately doubled since then, maintaining a complement of roughly 14 students at various stages of completion.

In 2013 NAIITS signed a subsequent agreement with Tyndale Seminary to begin delivery of a Masters in Theological Studies – Indigenous [MTS (I)]. The first cohort of three MTS (I) students launched in 2014 with a current enrolment of eight.

In the fall of 2014, through its Divinity College, NAIITS entered an agreement with Acadia University and began delivery of its Master of Arts in Indigenous Community Development [MA-INCD] with its first cohort of three students. The total enrolment for 2017 is seven.

In the summer of 2017, NAIITS launched “NAIITS Down Under” in Australia, offering an Indigenous Masters in Theology in partnership with Whitley College at the University of Melbourne. Initial student enrolment is 10.

These are the first partnerships of their kind; delivered entirely by an Indigenous organization and its faculty, focused on higher theologically framed education. Our current student enrolment including in our Masters programs in Australia and our new PhD program in partnership with the University in Melbourne, Australia, is 61.

Since 2003, through its various program partnerships, with different educational institutions in Canada and the United States, NAIITS has graduated nine people with doctoral degrees, two with Masters of Divinity, 11 with Masters of Arts in Intercultural Studies, and several more with research Masters of Arts in Biblical Studies. In the spring of 2017, NAIITS graduated its first Metis student with the Master of Arts in Indigenous Community Development Studies (MA-INCD).

Student Placement

As of the spring of 2017, all NAIITS graduates have been placed in a range of tribal and vocational ministry settings or, in either full-time or adjunct faculty positions in seminaries and universities in Canada, or the United States including:

• George Fox University and Seminary
• Tyndale University College and Seminary
• Sioux Falls Seminary
• Asbury Theological Seminary
• Portland State University
• Acadia University and Divinity College
• Warner Pacific College
• Vancouver School of Theology
• Kent State University