American Indian Studies

College of Ethnic Studies
Dean: Kenneth Monteiro

Department of American Indian Studies
EP 103
Chair: Joanne Barker


Assistant Professors—Barker, Collins, Jolivette, Nelson

LecturersóBarnd, Eagleton, Klasky, Wallace


B.A. in American Indian Studies
Minor in American Indian Studies

Program Scope

The department's educational mission and objectives has a special responsibility to Native peoples of California and the United States. California is the land on which the university and department rests; CSU is a public institution in the United States education system. Therefore, significant aspects of the program and curriculum are focused on Natives of California, US-Native politics, and North American Indian cultures with the aim of preparing students to work with Native groups and urban communities in California and the United States. The program also includes an international, comparative perspective and coalitional politics with Native peoples of U.S. occupied territories and more broadly within the Americas and the Pacific. It balances classroom education with an active community participatory learning component. Therefore, it best prepares students for going on to do graduate work or a number of different careers with Native peoples in not only California but internationally.

Learning Objectives

In completing the Major and Minor program: 1) Students will understand the complex histories, politics, and social issues confronting Native peoples in the context of U.S. colonization, imperialism, and globalization. This understanding will include awareness of the diverse political strategies used by Native peoples to confront the historical legacies of dispossession, genocide, and social inequity and discrimination, including legal action for land restoration and cultural conservation/revitalization efforts. 2) Students will be informed on the uniqueness of Native epistemologies and their articulation in contemporary forms of cultural media, such as through literature and the creative arts. 3) Students will gain invaluable experiential knowledge through community service learning, as a way of connecting classroom education to career preparation and advisement. 4) Students will possess the necessary analytical, writing, and oral communication skills to prepare them for careers or graduate school in areas related to American Indian Studies.

Community Service Learning

Many courses within the Major provide a Community Service Learning (CSL) option, including AIS 205 American Indians and U.S. Laws and AIS 460 Power and Politics in American Indian History. The option allows students to integrate classroom education with community participatory learning. Students are enrolled in an AIS core or elective course plus AIS 694 Community Service Learning and work with an organization approved by the department for 15-45 hours over the course of the semester (depending on the units). AIS 694 is entirely on-line, with requirements that include short written assignments and a book review. Organizations with which students have served in the past include the American Indian Child Resource Center, California Indian Legal Services, The Cultural Conservancy, International Indian Treaty Council, and the Native American Health Center.

Career Outlook

An American Indian Studies major provides a diverse foundation of knowledge and skills that can be applied to a number of careers. American Indian Studies alumni have and can anticipate to secure employment in: teaching; health care and social work; environmental and cultural rights organizations; tribal businesses and government; agricultural and pastoral enterprises; the traditional arts; ethnography and cultural programs; media and communications industries; museums and cultural centers; and, federal and state agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Indian Health Services, Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, Title IX Indian Education Program, and the National and State Park Services.


Admission to the Program  Students interested in the American Indian Studies major should seek advising from American Indian Studies faculty members to plan a course of matriculation.

Courses are 3 units unless otherwise indicated. On-line course descriptions are available.

Program Requirements  The major consists of a total of 39 units. The program consists of core course requirements totaling 21 units and elective course requirements totaling 18 units. The core course requirements are as follows.

Required Core 21
AIS 100 Introduction to American Indian Studies  
AIS 150 American Indians and U.S. History
AIS 160 Survey of Native California
AIS 205 American Indians and U.S. Laws
AIS 300 American Indian Studies Research Methodologies
AIS 694 Community Service Learning (1-3 unit options for a total of 3 in any combination)
AIS 680 American Indian Studies Senior Seminar
Elective Requirements  The elective requirements are organized into four areas of emphasis. Upon advisement, students may select one course from each area of emphasis (12 units total) and an additional two courses (6 units total) for a total of 18 units; or, they may complete six courses (18 units total) in one area of emphasis where available. 15 units must be completed at the upper-division level. Upon department approval, students may chose up to two elective courses (up to 6 units) from other departments/programs on campus. 18
1) California Indian Studies (additional courses in development)  
   AIS 410 Perspectives of Native California Indians
   AIS 558 California Collaborative and Applied Research (4)
   AIS 694 Community Service Learning (for up to 3 additional units to the core requirement)
2) Creative Arts and the Humanities
   AIS 162 American Indian Oral Literature
   AIS 235 American Indian Images and Issues in the Mass Media
   AIS 310 American Indian Religion and Philosophy
   AIS 320 American Indian Music
   AIS 325 American Indian Art
   AIS 360 American Indian Novels and Poetry
   AIS 400 American Indian Education
   AIS 420 American Indian Women
   AIS 490 Ancestors or Data?: Culture, Conflict and NAGPRA
   AIS 500 Language and Cultural Systems of North American Indians
   AIS 560 Modern Creative and Performing Arts
   AIS 610 Native Americans and Museums
3) Law, Politics, and Society
   AIS 230 Urban Indians
   AIS 330 American Indian Law
   AIS 350 Black-Indians in the Americas
   AIS 400 American Indian Education
   AIS 420 American Indian Women
   AIS 430 American Indian Sovereignty
   AIS 460 Power and Politics in American Indian History
   AIS 470 American Indian Ethnicity: Problems in Identity
   AIS 480 American Indian Social Movements
   AIS 490 Ancestors or Data? The Politics of NAGPRA
   AIS 540/840 Advanced Topics in American Indian Law and Politics
   AIS 600 Current Issues in the American Indian Community
4) Science, Health, and Environmental Studies
   AIS 260 American Indian Health and Cultural Recovery
   AIS 450 American Indian Science
   AIS 490 Ancestors or Data: The Politics of NAGPRA
   AIS 520 Before the Wilderness: American Indian Ecology
      Total for Major 39


Courses are 3 units unless otherwise indicated. On-line course descriptions are available.

The minor consists of a total of 24 units: 18 units of core course requirements and 6 units in upper-division electives. The core courses are listed below:

Required Core 18
AIS 100 Introduction to American Indian Studies  
AIS 150 American Indians and U.S. History
AIS 160 Survey of Native California
AIS 205 American Indians and U.S. Laws
AIS 300 American Indian Studies Research Methodologies
AIS 694 Community Service Learning
Electives  Units selected from among the upper division course offerings in American Indian studies on advisement 6
Total 24

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