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American Indian Studies

Offerings: Bachelor, Minor

Course Description


The major in American Indian studies provides a critical academic field of study, intellectual engagement with, and place-based understanding of, American Indian epistemologies.

Graduates will investigate the formation of tribal sovereignty and the culture and identity of tribal nations, communities, and peoples as distinct political and cultural groups in the Americas. Graduates will gain both knowledge about, and experience working with American Indian communities.

Graduates will be prepared to work with a politically distinct segment of the population in a variety of fields, such as health care, education, media, arts, environmental, business, non-profit public service organizations, and government. The capstone course for the major provide a rigorous option for students to demonstrate their applied knowledge through experiential learning and community engagement.


The American Indian Studies (AIS) minor focus is derived from American Indian epistemologies and a place-based perspective. Provides students with an opportunity to engage intellectually and to develop critical understanding of tribal sovereignty, the culture and identity of California Tribal nations, and American Indians in North America more generally. The minor prioritizes the worldviews of Tribal nations, and introduces students to important work in American Indian (de)colonization, political and economic development, arts and culture, Tribal systems of knowledge, health and wellness, environment, resource management, cultural revitalization, political theory, activism, and nation building. The American Indian Studies minor offers students the knowledge and expertise needed to develop critical perspectives and understand the theoretical frameworks structuring historical and contemporary issues related to American Indian communities. The AIS Minor challenges students as they develop the research skills and cultural competence needed for community engagement and project development, which can lead to internships and other career opportunities with American Indian communities, organizations, and tribal governments. As a whole, the American Indian Studies Minor enriches students by offering the prospect to develop the cultural proficiency required to work successfully in the diverse professions that serve American Indian communities.

American Indian Studies is a research-based interactive program grounded in place-based higher learning. The American Indian Minor offers students an integrated knowledge platform to understand the diverse needs and interests of American Indian communities in California and beyond. There are 18 federally recognized American Indian reservations in San Diego County, more than 35 American Indian reservations in the region, and 110 federally recognized tribes in the State of California. CSUSM is ideally situated to serve the needs of tribal nations in our state. This base of knowledge draws upon multiple areas related to the history and current state of American Indians in the United States.



  • Community
  • Cultural monitor
  • Educator
  • Interpretor
  • Researcher
  • Tanf
  • Teacher
  • Tribal government
  • Tribal land surveyor


  • Cultural events
  • Cultural monitoring
  • Development
  • Education
  • Government
  • Museum
  • Restoration
  • Surveying


Archival, Archive, Archives, Archiving, Bird songs, Culture, Folklore, Gathering, History, Indians, Indigenous people, Kumeyaay, Language, Luiseño, Native, Native americans, Oral history, Pow wow, Society, Sovereign, Sovereign nation, Sovereignty, Traditional, Traditions, Tribal, Tribe