Native American studies

Three students having a conversation in the Many Nations Longhouse.

Undergraduate minor

About the minor

Native American studies is an interdisciplinary field that uses approaches from history, anthropology, law, literature, ethnic/gender/sexuality studies, and other disciplines to understand contemporary Native American lives. In classes and in research, the minor examines Native American identities, practices, politics, histories, and cultures in context from the earliest times until the present. The minor highlights the unique place of Indigenous peoples in legal and political systems as well as the myriad distinct issues Native peoples of the United States face, from language and cultural protection to environmental issues to economic development and beyond.

Native American studies cherishes connections with Native communities, making its work valuable to the project of building up Native nations. Most Americans are only vaguely aware of tribal governments and how they fit into other governmental structures, and even fewer have contemplated what limited forms of tribal sovereignty say about American democratic ideals. In a state with nine federally recognized Indigenous nations and a Native American population 50 percent higher proportionally than the national average, this is critical information for future leaders in all fields.

A little more info

  • Native American and Indigenous Studies Academic Residential Community (NAIS-ARC) provides an academic, residential, and student support services community dedicated to indigenous intellectual, social, and cultural life, designed to introduce first-year UO students to the field of Native Studies and provide a strong cohort for student success.
  • The Many Nations Longhouse offers a Native space on campus that is a hub for many complementary Native events, including guest lectures, storytelling, theatrical performances, workshops, poster sessions, Native community potlucks, and more.
  • The Tribal Climate Change project focuses on understanding needs and opportunities for tribes in addressing climate change, examining the government-to-government relationship in a climate context and exploring the role of traditional knowledge in climate change studies, assessments and plans.
  • The University of Oregon-University of Otago Indigenous Studies Exchange program offers students a chance to take classes in Maori studies in Aotearoa/New Zealand and count them towards the NAS minor.
  • The Northwest Indian Language Institute partners with tribes to strengthen language preservation efforts.

Career opportunities

The Native American studies minor complements many other programs. It provides access to ways of knowing and ways of living that are part of the heritage and future of this state and this nation.

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