American Indian Studies

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Welcome to American Indian Studies

Traditional Indian Dancer
The interdisciplinary minor in American Indian Studies offers courses in contemporary and historical cultures of First Nations. Topics that are examined include American Indian contemporary social issues, American Indian law and policy, literature, music, art, and spirituality. The Program is designed to enhance the understanding and appreciation of American Indian cultures and the unique sovereign status of First People nations. Many of the courses satisfy requirements in several majors and AIS 101: Introduction to American Indian Studies and AIS 301: First Peoples and Popular Culture will meet General Education requirements.

In addition, the Program provides background for undergraduate or advanced study in anthropology, art, business, criminology, education, English, geography, health sciences, history, political science, prelaw, psychology, religious studies, sociology, and women's studies and for comparative study in other ethnic study programs.

Kalani Heinz

The American Indian Studies Program welcomes Assistant Professor, Dr. Kalani Heinz starting this Fall, 2023! We are so excited that Dr. Heinz is joining AIS! Welcome Dr. Heinz!

Dr. Kalani Heinz (she/they) is a recent graduate from the University of California, Los Angeles where she received her doctorate in Hawaiian archaeology. Their dissertation focused on archaeology as activism, namely decolonizing the discipline of archaeology and highlighting the potential historical and environmental data has for informing modern environmental justice movements. They are a National Science Foundation GRFP recipient and a Ford Foundation pre-doctoral scholar. Outside of her dissertation, she is passionate about Hawaiian culture-based education practices and Indigenous sciences. In her spare time, she serves as the second vice president for the Hawaiʻi’s Daughters Guild of California and the president-elect for the National Pacific Islander Education Network, two nonprofits in Southern California.

Pauline (Alvarez) Vasquez

We also welcome back Professor Pauline (Alvarez) Vasquez, a CSUN alum to American Indian Studies, as a Lecturer!

Professor Vasquez received her B.A. in sociology with an AIS minor from CSUN. She went on to earn her Master's degree in American Indian Studies at UCLA. She taught for CSUN's AIS from 2018-2020. Professor Vasquez's research has focused on reclaiming O'odham identities through tattoos.

Mission Statement

The American Indian Studies Program promotes an understanding of American Indian history, cultures, and tribal sovereignty with a focus on Southern California tribes, 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.  The program seeks to demonstrate the relevance of American Indian perspectives to contemporary political, economic, and social issues in the United States and the globe.