American Indian Studies

The American Indian Studies program focuses on individual elements that comprise the Native American cultures. Using literature, art, history and politics as touchstones, students come to understand the individual as well as tribal character of the Indian peoples, with special emphasis on the tribes of Southern California. The academic area also draws comparisons between American Indian life and the life of other members of American society.

Program Overview

A major in American Indian Studies provides students with a liberal arts education that focuses on cultural diversity. Individuals will attain a broad understanding of the human condition closely related to public relations, cultural pluralism, and race relations. Students pursuing careers in mass media, politics, journalism, and education will find that a major in American Indian Studies opens a new spectrum of human understanding and critical analysis for professional life.

The faculty are highly qualified individuals who have dedicated their academic careers to their field of study. They emphasize excellence in teaching and continually further their own knowledge by research, writing, and publishing in the area of American Indian studies.

Special Features

  • The Elymash Yuuchaap Indigenous Scholars and Leaders Program is a Kumeyaay way of saying "Youth Think." The program supports the cultural, social, academic and leadership development of students committed to the sovereignty and wellness of Indigenous communities, and is designed to mentor and provide community-service learning experiences for students pursuing higher education and preparing to serve Indigenous communities. Scholars attend a series of leadership seminars and service activities, with topics and activities developed by community and tribal leaders, with support from SDSU students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Each scholar is expected to maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA. Throughout the year, scholars are also invited to participate in special events with nationally recognized speakers, local community leaders, and university officials.
  • The Native American Student Alliance (NASA) is an active student organization promoting a Native American presence on campus. NASA hosts an array of events to promote the recruitment and retention of Native American and Alaskan Native students; to maintain and promote the truth, accuracy, and the history of Native people; and to honor and respect the various Native cultures and traditions.
  • The SDSU Powwow, sponsored by NASA and the Department of American Indian Studies, is held on campus every spring, usually in March or April. The powwow is a gathering of Native Americans who represent tribes from various regions of the United States. There are Native American dancing and singing competitions, arts and crafts booths and traditional Native food booths.
  • A special American Indian Graduation Ceremony is held every year in May to honor the achievements of graduating Native American students and American Indian Studies majors and minors. At the ceremony, each graduate receives individual recognition and has the opportunity to express appreciation to family, friends, and others.
  • The American Indian Community Relations Working Group, established by the American Indian Studies Department, helps the department maintain a strong linkage with the local Indian community. The Working Group helps the department achieve its goals, including: supporting American Indian students and promoting their success in the education process, finding opportunities for American Indian students to liaison with community groups, and finding ways for SDSU American Indian Studies students to serve the community.

Career Opportunities

A degree in American Indian Studies prepares students for various careers both in and outside Indian Country. Our interdisciplinary program teaches students about tribal sovereignty and the needs of contemporary Native communities. Students will be prepared to work in tribal education programs, social and human services programs, and cultural preservation divisions. Students will also be prepared to work in the various Federal agencies that work with Native communities, such as Indian Health Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Indian Gaming Commission, etc. With growing economic development opportunities in Indian Country, our majors will also be prepared to work in the several non-Indian corporations that serve Native communities, such as hospitality, environmental planning, financial services, engineering/architectural consulting, and entrepreneurship. Our course focus on tribal self-determination and decolonization helps students understand the complex jurisdictional issues and political and economic developmental needs of Native communities.

To further explore career options in this field, visit the Career Services Web site for more information.

General Catalog

You can view more complete information regarding the American Indian Studies program in the General Catalog. All students are responsible for reading and knowing the information pertinent to their areas of study available in the General Catalog. It contains requirements for all academic majors, course descriptions, policies, and regulations governing progress at the university. Catalogs are distributed at all New Student Orientation programs. To order a Catalog, call (619) 594-7535.