American Indian Studies

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

The 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 and prepares them to work in wide range of areas. The core of the program includes study in 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. Students have the flexibility to customize the major and minor to fit their interests. Common career areas are diversity coordinator/recruiter/academic counselor at K-12 and post-secondary institutions, research specialists for museums and historical associations, cultural consultants, liaisons for businesses or governments, and more.

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 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.