American Indian Studies

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The Department of American Indian Studies faculty, pictured left to right: Tadd Johnson (Director of Graduate Studies and Professor), Linda LeGarde Grover (Professor), Jill Doerfler (Department Head and Associate Professor), Rebecca Webster (Assistant Professor), and Joseph Bauerkemper (Associate Professor).

American Indian Studies is an academic department continuing a robust four-decade legacy in which active scholars serve to educate students, colleagues, and the public about tribal sovereignty, indigenous cultures, and the historical and contemporary experiences of Native peoples and nations. In addition to building strong relationships with Tribes within our geographic area, we work to fulfill our responsibility to all Native nations through consultation, partnerships, and research.

We have several exceptional programs including a B.A. in Tribal Administration & Governance, a B.A. in American Indian Studies, an undergraduate minor in American Indian Studies, and the Master in Tribal Administration & Governance (MTAG). In addition, AIS established the Tribal Sovereignty Institute (TSI) in 2012. The TSI engages with Native nations on research projects, offers certificates, and is building the capacity to offer scholarships.

A bachelor of arts degree in American Indian studies is designed to give students a broad background while allowing concentrated study in an area(s) of interest. The core of the program includes study in Ojibwe language, historical and contemporary foundations, politics and law, art and literature, and societies and cultures. Majors and minors develop skills in analytical and critical thinking, as well as verbal and written communication. They acquire knowledge of historical and contemporary American Indian experiences, cultures, and (inter)governmental affairs.  Graduates are prepared for careers in a variety of professional fields, including social services, for-profit and not-for-profit organizations, tribal, local, state or federal government, criminal and social justice fields, tribal economic development, as well as business and management. In addition, some graduates pursue advanced degrees in law, health, business, social work, education, museum studies, and fine arts. 

The bachelor of arts degree in Tribal Administration & Governance (TAG) is designed to prepare students to work for Tribes. This major combines fundamental courses from the Labovitz School of Business & Economics with courses focused on tribal sovereignty, governance, and administration. Students will gain the capacity to provide strategic management and manage human capital in tribal contexts as well as understand significant federal statutes and policies that apply to Native nations. Majors must complete an internship. Students can either transfer in with an AA or the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum and complete TAG completely on-line in two years OR students can come to UMD and take courses to fulfill the UMD liberal education requirements while taking the courses for the major.

The Master of Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship (MTRES) is an applied degree designed to meet the professional and leadership needs of tribal natural resources and environmental programs.  The curriculum is based upon the interrelationship of biological, physical, and cultural systems.  Required courses address program operations, sustainability, and integrated ecosystem studies. Elective courses and the capstone project provide opportunity for personalized areas of focus.  Partially online course delivery, including several face-to-face meetings each semester provides interaction with experts in each area of the curriculum including faculty, staff, special guests and students. 

The Master of Tribal Administration & Governance (MTAG) program seeks to train future American Indian tribal leaders and managers through coursework grounded in ethics. It focuses on tribal governance and the management issues encountered on a reservation as well as the complex relations among tribal, state, and the federal governments. The curriculum includes classes on principles of tribal sovereignty; tribal budgets, finance and accounting; principles of tribal management; federal Indian law; and leadership and ethics. Students in the program may already serve as tribal administrators, council members or tribal leaders. The degree includes four synchronistic classes each semester, which students may attend in person or virtually.