Honoring Native Tradition and Community Through Academic Excellence
Native American Studies (NAS) was originally a center in 1970, and in September 1998 NAS became an academic department within University College. In December 2004 the UNM Board of Regents approved NAS as a major within University Studies. As an interdisciplinary academic department, NAS is committed to Native academic scholarship and research excellence. Our goal is to educate and inform students about the Native experience that comes from the rich cultural heritage of the sovereign Indigenous peoples of the United States. Another goal is to create a department that collaborates with Native communities and engages students in nation building.
Native American Studies is organized into components:
Community: NAS provides academically related activities for the larger community such as the popular Native American Studies Lecture Series. Our focus is to link the larger Native American communities to the university's academic mission. NAS faculty hosts forums, seminars, and conferences which bring Native scholars to the university campus. NAS also presents other activities to off-campus schools throughout New Mexico.
Academic: NAS offers courses emphasizing the Native experience and experiential learning. The NATV undergraduate major is offered in four interdisciplinary core areas: Indigenous Learning Communities Concentration, Leadership and Building Native Nations Concentration, Indigenous Arts & Media Concentration, and the Indigenous Knowledge Systems Concentration. The NATV programs include experiential education as a core component of each course. Click to view NATV Major and NATV Minor.
Research: The NAS library collection includes more than 3,000 books, journals, periodicals, and an extensive video collection for research topics relevant to Native American people and other Indigenous cultures. The NAS library collection is searchable via the UNM online catalog: LIBROS. Materials in the NAS library collection are available for reference use and are not available for check out.
Reference assistance and information may be obtained from the Indigenous Nations Library Program (INLP). INLP is a service provided by the University Libraries at UNM. INLP’s aim is to serve the information needs of UNM-based Native American communities and programs as well as outreach to New Mexico tribes.
The highlight of the Native American Studies program has been the development, submission and approval of the Bachelor's in Native Studies Degree by the University of New Mexico. This was a monumental event in UNM-NAS history. The BA degree is an extension of the already successful minor in Native Studies offered since 1999 through UNM University College.
The new B.A. degree in Native American Studies includes four distinct, but inter-related curricular strands. These strands are Indigenous Learning Communities Concentration, Leadership and Building Native Nations Concentration, Indigenous Arts & Media Concentration, and the Indigenous Knowledge Systems Concentration. Each of these strands incorporate experiential learning along with interdisciplinary academic study as a foundation for application of student learning to Native American contexts.
This new and expanded curriculum holds great promise for helping UNM-NAS to fully realize its inherent potential as a premier program among southwestern universities. The implementation of the new Bachelor's degree will be the primary focus of NAS faculty and staff during the next few years. Special emphasis is placed on the development and delivery of NAS course offerings and the introduction of several new courses related to the strands in the new BA degree.
In addition, the NAS faculty have initiated the process for submission of Masters of Arts Degree proposal to the UNM Graduate Curriculum Committee. The new masters degree will have a single concentration in Indigenous Leadership Studies and Community Development. The primary focus of the degree will be on addressing the needs for in depth research and application of community based leadership methods within the evolving context of Indigenous community development. This new Masters degree promises to be challenging yet cutting edge in terms of Indigenous leadership studies curricula available in Native Studies American Studies Programs in Higher Education Institutions.
Dr. Gregory A. Cajete, Director, Native American Studies &
Associate Professor, LLSS, College of Education