Native American Studies in Higher Education

Native American Studies in Higher Education

Melissa W.

Native American Heritage Month is coming to a close today. It is a month to honor, celebrate, and learn about the resilience of Native Americans who occupied the nation first, and there’s still so much to be educated about.

Currently, there are 574 federally-recognized Indian Nations and 32 fully-accredited Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) in the United States, according to The U.S. Department of Education. The White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education has stated the following in regards to TCUs, “My Administration is also committed to improving educational opportunities for students attending TCUs. TCUs maintain, preserve, and restore Native languages and cultural traditions; offer a high quality college education; provide career and technical education, job training, and other career building programs; and often serve as anchors in some of the country’s poorest and most remote areas.” (Executive Order 13592)

Interested in studying Native American culture? The Association on American Indian Affairs, which is celebrating 100 years of being “the oldest non-profit serving Indian Country protecting sovereignty, preserving culture, educating youth and building capacity,” offers up a comprehensive list of colleges and universities across the nation that provide higher education learning of Native American studies.

According to their website, “Native American studies (also known as American Indian, Indigenous American, Aboriginal, Native, or First Nations studies) is an interdisciplinary academic field that examines the history, culture, politics, issues, and contemporary experience of Native peoples in North America, or taking a hemispheric approach, the Americas.* With a degree in Native American Studies, you can pursue a career in a variety of fields, including education and academia, government and law, nonprofit and advocacy, business and community development, healthcare and science, social work, the arts, and many more areas. A minor, certificate, or concentration in Native American Studies enhances your ability to think in non-traditional, non-Western ways and interact more effectively with diverse peoples.”

As of 2019 there are 211 institutions offering programs ranging from certificates to graduate degrees in programs like Native American Language, First Nations and Indigenous Studies, Native Health, Cherokee Studies, Lakota Studies, Arts in Ogimaawi Leadership, and more. Native American Studies go hand-in-hand with most other programs offered at colleges, like Business, Legal Studies, Environmental Science, Museum Studies, and Education.

What can you do with a Native American Studies degree? Lots of things! Anthropologist, Archaeologist, Historian, Social Worker, Conservationist, Museum Curator, and Educator, are just a few of the careers you can work in post-graduation.

Are you a current student in a Native American Studies program? Let us know in the comments!


Cover photo by Andrew James on Unsplash

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