Native American Studies
Take a closer look at the academic field of Native American Studies, which is also known under a variety of other names, including American Indian Studies, Indigenous American Studies, Aboriginal Studies, Native Studies, or First Nations Studies. While the focus of this academic discipline tends to be on Native North American communities in the United States and Canada, the term can encompass the Indigenous peoples of Central and South America as well. The field is interdisciplinary, involving political science, anthropology, linguistics, economics, and literature, among other subjects.
Native American Studies is part of a broader category of academia known as ethnic studies, or the study of the social, economic, political, and historical perspectives of America’s diverse racial and ethnic groups. For this reason, Native Studies is more advocacy-based than other academic disciplines, with a focus on promoting political autonomy and alleviating contemporary problems of Native communities. Native American Studies programs, which arose following the First Convocation of American Indian Scholars at Princeton University in 1970, is in opposition to the traditional role of education imposed on Native communities, the goal of which was assimilation with the majority-white culture.
Native Studies may involve studying the impact of casinos on tribal economies, an in-depth look at the relationship between the U.S. government and tribal governments, or reading the literature of prominent Native authors. Those who graduate from a Native Studies program can go on to become social workers or attorneys specializing in Native issues, work for a Native arts organization, or lobby the federal government on behalf of Native causes.