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American Indian Studies

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College of Humanities


AIS Advisory Board

Interdisciplinary Program Minor in American Indian Studies The Minor

The American Indian Studies (AIS) minor provides access to the unique cultures and the historical and contemporary experiences of sovereign Indian nations. Topics that will be examined in the interdisciplinary minor include American Indian law and policy, internal colonization, contemporary social issues, metaphysics, art, music and literature.

The program is designed to enhance the understanding and respect of First People cultures and the unique sovereign status of First Nations. Many of the courses will satisfy requirements in several majors. AIS 101 Introduction to American Indian Studies and AIS 304 American Indian Law and Policy will also meet the General Education, Comparative Cultural Studies requirement. AIS 301 First Peoples and Popular Culture meets the General Education, Lifelong Learning requirement. In addition, AIS 401 Contemporary American Indian Social Issues is a community partnership course. The Program provides background for undergraduate or advanced study in anthropology, art, business, communication, criminology, education, English, geography, health sciences, history, language and linguistic studies, political science, pre-law, philosophy, psychology, religious studies, sociology, and women’s studies and for comparative study in other ethnic study programs.


The American Indian Studies Program seeks to promote an understanding of American Indian history, cultures, and tribal sovereignty with a focus on Southern California tribes, urban American Indians, and other indigenous peoples in a global context. The program seeks to revise Western knowledge of the history and culture of the United States to include American Indian perspectives and contributions. It also seeks to demonstrate the relevance of American Indian perspectives to contemporary political, economic, and social issues in the United States and the world.

Academic Advisement

Advisement is available from the coordinator and faculty of the American Indian Studies Program.

Program Goals

By completing the minor, students will have the essential proficiency and skills necessary to acquire an appreciation of historical and contemporary multiplicity of First Nation Peoples experiences within the framework of internal colonization. The program objective is to develop in every student the following qualities:

  1. 1. Skills to question and evaluate one’s own attitudes and beliefs about American Indians.
  2. 2. Knowledge of the diversity of American Indian cultural experiences and the shared commonalities.
  3. 3. Knowledge of the impact of colonization upon American Indian social institutions such as family, education, economy, governance, and religion.

Student Learning Outcomes of the Undergraduate Program

Graduates of the AIS Program will be able:

  1. 1. To demonstrate the ability to further refine critical thinking, written, and oral communication skills and other creative endeavors.
  2. 2. To develop a critical and reflective perspective on Western interpretations of the experiences of First Nation Peoples, in particular an understanding of internal colonialism.
  3. 3. To demonstrate an appreciation of the commonalties and the uniqueness of indigenous cultures and nations.
  4. 4. To demonstrate a commitment through effective community service to work cooperatively with indigenous peoples.
  5. 5. Demonstrate an enhanced ability to respect indigenous communities.

Requirements for the Minor

1. Required Courses (9 units)

2. Electives (9 units)

*General Education, Comparative Cultural Studies
**General Education, Lifelong Learning

Course List

AIS 101. Introduction to American Indian Studies (3)
Introduction to traditional and contemporary American Indian Cultures with an interdisciplinary approach to the history, social institutions, religion, literature, arts, and inter-ethnic relations of First People Nations. (Available for General Education, Comparative Cultural Studies)
AIS 301. First Peoples and Popular Culture (3)
The course introduces students to the misconceptions about First Peoples that have appeared in many avenues of popular culture, including literature, advertising, Hollywood cinema, New Age religions, and political debates. As a cultural studies course, it focuses on the representations of North American First Peoples in popular culture, the response to those representations, and the production of representations by First Peoples writers, poets, artists, and film makers (among others). (Available for General Education, Lifelong Learning)
AIS 304. American Indian Law and Policy (3)
Preparatory: AIS 101. Examines the impact of the multi-jurisdictional indigenous social control mechanisms on U.S. state and federal law and policies. Major focus is on the unique legal relationship that exists between Indian governments and state and federal governments. Issues including criminal justice, child welfare, education, gaming, health care, art, land ownership, religious and treaty rights are examined. (Available for General Education, Comparative Cultural Studies)
AIS 401. Contemporary American Indian Social Issues (3)
Focuses on First Peoples contemporary social issues and the relationship of those concerns to the surrounding society. While concerned with the histories and cultures of First Peoples, the main focus is on contemporary scenarios. American Indian experiences will be compared and contrasted with those of the dominate society and other racial and ethnic groups. The student will be exposed to American Indian world views, the unique sovereign status of American Indian nations, and social institutional explanations for cultural and political conflict with the dominant society. To facilitate these goals, during the semester each student will enter into a community partnership with an American Indian social group or formal organization in the larger Los Angeles area or on a reservation, reserve, or pueblo.