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University Catalog

School of Culture, Gender, and Social Justice

Native American and Indigenous Studies

Main Office: 108 Ross Hall, (307) 766-6521
Director's Office: Native American Center, (307) 766-6520
Director: Dr. Angela Jaime


ANGELA JAIME, B.A. California State University, Sacramento; M.A. San Francisco State; Ph.D. Purdue University; Professor of Native American and Indigenous Studies 2019, 2004.

Assistant Professor:

JESSICA F. NELSON, B.A. University of Michigan 2006; M.A. University of Arizona 2011; Ph.D. 2018; Assistant Professor of Native American and Indigenous Studies 2019.

Adjunct Faculty

(See catalog section following name for academic credentials.)
Pamela Innes, Anthropology
Robyn Lopez, Native American and Indigenous Studies
Jeffrey Means, History
Christopher Caskey Russell, English

The Native American and Indigenous Studies Program (NAIS) offers an academic major at the undergraduate level and a minor at both the undergraduate and graduate level. This interdepartmental course of study examines Native North American cultural and social life, as well as indigenous cultural and social life globally, including economic, political, and educational systems. Historical and contemporary perspectives of American Indian and global indigenous experiences are included in this program.

Students may choose a NAIS studies minor to complement a major field of study. Related disciplines include American studies, anthropology, art, ethnic studies, geography, history, law, music, philosophy, political science, and sociology. A minor in Native American and Indigenous Studies provides excellent preparation for teachers, researchers, social workers, health care providers, resource managers, economic developers, and legal practitioners.

NAIS Undergraduate Minor

Students graduating with an undergraduate minor degree in NAIS will be able to: 1) Explain the concept of tribal sovereignty and how tribal sovereignty is both restricted and acknowledged by the federal trust relationship and by relationships with states; 2) Understand the development of modern tribal governments and their functions and importance in contemporary society; 3) Understand and appreciate the roles of history, culture, and politics in the development of tribal world views, world views that relate to modern life and contemporary issues of concern for Native American and Indigenous peoples; 4) Identify historical, cultural, and political diversity and significance in Native oral traditions and written literatures; 5) Recognize stereotypes about Native American and Indigenous peoples and explain why these stereotypes were created and why they are sustained in modern society; and 6) Understand from the perspective of American Indian peoples, historical experiences and contemporary issues in North America.

Minor Requirements

The minor in Native American and Indigenous Studies requires 18 credit hours. Twelve credit hours must come from the following courses, three credit hours must be in either NAIS 1001 or 1350.

  • NAIS 1001, Foundations in American Indian Studies
  • NAIS 1350, American Indians in Contemporary Society
  • NAIS 2210, North American Indians
  • NAIS 2290, History of North American Indians
  • NAIS 2340, Native American Culture and Literature

Plus six hours of NAIS elective courses.

NAIS Undergraduate Major

In addition to the skills acquired by students who earn an undergraduate minor degree in American Indian studies, students working toward a B.A. in Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS) will study tribal governance, literature, history, environment and natural resource management, ways of knowing, and indigenous languages. Inherent in this degree's curriculum and related activities is the expectation that students and faculty will assume an active role in working with and for Indigenous communities. NAIS requires it majors to earn a grade of C or better in all courses taken to fulfill the major.

Major Requirements

Foundation Courses (9 credit hours)
Choose from: NAIS 1001, 1350, 2210, or 2290

Core Courses (15 credit hours)
One class required from each of the following five subject areas:

  • Tribal Governance: NAIS 3300 or NAIS 4100
  • Literature: NAIS 2340, 2345, 3100 or NAIS 4460
  • History: NAIS 3000, 4000, or 4466
  • Environment & Resource Management: NAIS 3200 or 4340
  • Ways of Knowing: NAIS 3400, 4110, 4200 or 4740

Electives (6 credit hours)

NAIS Graduate Minor

A graduate minor in Native American and Indigenous Studies is comprised of 12 hours with at least 6 hours at the 5000 level. It is expected that each graduate minor student and his/her graduate committee, at least one member of whom will be from NAIS, will determine the specific courses to be taken. It is recommended that one of the four classes selected be a 3 credit NAIS 5000 Independent Study. This class will provide a research experience in the discipline of Native American and Indigenous studies that may support a master's thesis or doctoral dissertation. The research expectation in NAIS can be satisfied by the 3 credit hour Independent Study and/or by the thesis or doctoral dissertation.

Students graduating with a graduate minor degree in Native American and Indigenous studies will be able to: 1) Make apparent in masters'-level research the interdisciplinary connections between Native American and Indigenous studies and the primary field of graduate study; 2) Integrate American Indian studies research methods with the research methods used in the primary field of graduate study; and 3) Demonstrate in writing the ability to understand a variety of subjects from a tribal perspective.

Teaching Endoresement/UW Certification

Through Distance Education, a Teachers of American Indian Children (TAIC) Endorsement / Graduate Certificate can be earned. This non-degree graduate program certifies that those who complete its five specialized courses possess the attitudes, knowledge, and competence necessary to effectively teach American Indian Children. Upon completion, students receive official recognition of their achievement on their transcripts and an official certificate. Visit the Distance Education Degrees and Programs Website for more information. All courses are cross-listed with NAIS and EDCI.

An interdepartmental Native American and Indigenous Studies Advisory Committee guides the program's development. The director advises students selecting the NAIS studies major or minor.

Complete information about the Native American and Indigenous Studies undergraduate major, undergraduate minor, and graduate minor is available in the NAIS Program office and on the program Website.

Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS) Courses

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