Native American Studies is an interdisciplinary field that uses multiple approaches from history, anthropology, law, literature, ethnic studies, and other disciplines to understand contemporary Native American lives. In our classes and in our research, we examine Native American identities, practices, histories, cultures, and political statuses in context from the earliest times until the present. We highlight the unique place of tribes in the state-tribal-federal intergovernmental matrix and the myriad distinct issues Native peoples of the United States face, from language and cultural protection to environmental issues to economic development and beyond.
In Native American studies, we cherish our connections with Native communities, and we try to make our work valuable to the project of building up Native nations. Most Americans are only vaguely aware of tribal governments and how they fit into other governmental structures, and even fewer have contemplated what limited forms of tribal sovereignty say about American democratic ideals. In a state with nine federally recognized indigenous nations and a Native American population 50% higher proportionally than the national average, this is critical information for future leaders in all fields.
The Native American Studies minor complements many other programs. It provides access to ways of knowing and ways of living that are part of the heritage and future of this state and this nation.