Program in American Indian Studies

Philip Stevens, (Phinney 115, 83844-1110; phone 208/885-8701;; Faculty: Yolanda J. Bisbee, Ian Chambers, Harold Crook, Rodney Frey, Georgia Johnson, Janis Johnson, Ann Marshall, R. Lee Sappington, Philip Stevens, Rebecca Tallent, J.D. Wulfhorst. Adjunct Faculty - Tribal Teachers: Felix Aripa, D’Lisa Penny Pinkham.

The University of Idaho's American Indian Studies program engages with Indigenous knowledge(s) and cultures(s) as dynamic, vibrant, diverse, place-based, and resilient.  The AIS program seeks to educate, contemplate and study the deep continuities of Indigenous knowledge(s) rooted in place and sophisticated problem solving engaged across time and space, past and the present.  By privileging the voices and experiences of Indigenous peoples themselves, AIS offers 1) a place on the University of Idaho campus for critical Indigenous thought, pedagogies, and scholarship; 2) the dissemination of Indigenous knowledge to better inform global engagement conducted at the University of Idaho and the region; and 3) intellectual engagement on historical and contemporary legal, political, academic, scientific, and other issues across the Indigenous curriculum.  Central to the vision of the American Indian Studies program are programmatic and intellectual pursuits led by AIS value co-constructed, sustained and engaged relationships with Indigenous communities.

The American Indian Studies Program is based on the following objectives:

  1. Recruitment and retention – enhance the recruitment and retention of Indian students, as well as other students of ethnic heritage, attending and graduating from UI.
  2. Intercultural communication – provide an opportunity for face-to-face Indian/non-Indian exchange of ideas, perceptions, and misperceptions about Indian and Euro-American culture, including a meaningful context for intercultural communications and understanding, and solution of problems of bias and stereotyping.
  3. Cultural appreciation – foster a better understanding of and appreciation for the vitality, breadth, depth, and rich diversity of components of contemporary Indian cultures (e.g., arts, economics, literature, government, and social and religious life), as well as their histories.
  4. Rigorous curriculum with an interdisciplinary approach – enable students to acquire the knowledge, critical methods, and research skills of the academic fields that comprise the minor, including but not limited to anthropology, English, history, sociology, and teacher education.
  5. Application – provide an Indian pedagogy and knowledge base, i.e., an Indian perspective, that would complement and be integrated with students' other academic fields of study (e.g., business, education, engineering, forestry and natural resources, health care, humanities, or social sciences), better preparing students with the skills and expertise to address and successfully meet the various issues and challenges faced in Indian communities.
  6. Collaboration – build partnership relationships between UI and regional tribes (Idaho and adjacent western states), especially the Coeur d'Alene and Nez Perce Tribes, improving communications, educational delivery, the sharing of expertise, and ability to address common concerns and problems.
  7. Institutional growth – advance the concerns and issues faced in Indian communities, as well as an Indian pedagogical and knowledge perspective within the university and academic communities.
  8. Inclusivity – serve both Indian and non-Indian students and communities alike. Through the offered curriculum and sponsored activities, the overarching objective of the American Indians Studies Program is to provide a transformational educational experience for students.

Acknowledging the vital role native languages continue to play in American Indian communities and the need for their preservation, a curriculum in Nez Perce language is offered and upon completion of two years of study can be used to satisfy the Bachelor of Arts language requirement at the University of Idaho.

Students enrolled in the academic minor in American Indian Studies will be required to complete an academic service learning internship in collaboration with an area tribe. This internship helps fulfill the program’s vision and objectives of application and collaboration through the American Indian/Indigenous value of reciprocity.



See the course description section for courses in American Indian Studies (AIST).