Native American StudiesNative American Studies
Americans know shockingly little about the native people of our country. And what we do know, or think we know, may be derived from simplified explanations we were given in grade school or misguided portrayals in old TV shows or films. Native Americans have had a rich and troubled history in this country, and this major will expose you to the unique situations this group has faced with respect to independence, identity, and recognition. During your studies, you’ll gain vast knowledge of Native American cultures and how they have affected and been affected by American culture. You’ll learn about the difficulties and discriminations Native Americans have faced in the past and the challenges they still face today—their victories and their defeats. Economics and politics pose special problems to Native Americans, and you’ll learn about the tribes’ sovereign powers within the United States. You’ll also learn about the persistent stereotypes that Native Americans must work against in popular culture and how stereotypes affect, inform, and complicate the formation of a racial identity. Native American studies is a multidisciplinary major that encompasses courses in the humanities and social sciences. Throughout your studies you’ll gain exposure to the valuable contributions Native Americans have made to art, language, music, politics, psychology, spirituality, and literature. You’ll begin to form ideas of what exactly it means to be a Native American and how identity, gender, and race have been challenged and defined. As you become better acquainted with the Native American people, you’ll come to understand and be able to articulate the sacrifices they’ve made, the history and culture they’ve preserved, and what possibly lies ahead. This major will give you the opportunity to become knowledgeable in many different fields, including political science, English, women’s studies, psychology, sociology, history, and others.
History is key to your understanding of Native American studies, so take advantage of whatever history courses your high school offers. Other humanities courses such as English, philosophy, religion, and languages will be valuable as well. Since this is an interdisciplinary major, a well-rounded background in a variety of courses in all disciplines will be your best preparation.