American Indian Studies at San Diego State University acknowledges the Kumeyaay peoples as the traditional caretakers of the land on which SDSU now sits and its surrounding areas. We are grateful to have the opportunity to work with the indigenous peoples in this place. We pay our respects to tiipay nyekurr yak (ancestors and ancient peoples), and mecheyuuy (all our relations) past, present and emerging.
The American Indian Studies program at San Diego State University is dedicated to teaching a broad range of topics related to the study of Native American peoples, while focusing on individual elements that comprise American Indian life, heritage and culture. By using literature, art, history, and politics as touchstones, students come to understand both the individual as well as the tribal character of the Indian peoples, with emphasis given to the tribes of Southern California. Coursework also draws comparisons between American Indian life and the life of other members of American society.
Our department offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Indian Studies, and a minor in American Indian Studies. Students also take our courses as electives or as supplementary coursework for other programs. The only qualification for students enrolling in our courses is an interest in American Indians and the many facets of their heritage.
Students taking our courses have the unique advantage of frequent, direct interaction with faculty. Our highly qualified full-time and part-time faculty have dedicated their academic careers to the study of Indigenous peoples, and they continually advance their own knowledge by researching, writing, and publishing in their individual areas of interest. They are involved in a wide range of activities on the SDSU campus, within the San Diego community, and beyond.
The American Indian Studies Department provides connections between the SDSU community and the broader Native American community through public events such as the annual Pow Wow and the Youth Empowerment Conference, and by fostering relationships with a host of outreach programs and external organizations.
Elymash Yuuchaap Indigenous Scholars and Leaders Program
The Elymash Yuuchaap Indigenous Scholars and Leaders Program is a Kumeyaay way of saying "Youth Think." The program supports the cultural, social, academic and leadership development of students committed to the sovereignty and wellness of Indigenous communities, and is designed to mentor and provide community-service learning experiences for students pursuing higher education and preparing to serve Indigenous communities. Scholars attend a series of leadership seminars and service activities, with topics and activities developed by community and tribal leaders, with support from SDSU students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Each scholar is expected to maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA. Throughout the year, scholars are also invited to participate in special events with nationally recognized speakers, local community leaders, and university officials.
The Department of American Indian Studies actively supports the Native American Student Alliance (NASA). Established in 1971, NASA continues its mission as an active student organization promoting a Native American presence on campus. The organization hosts an array of events to promote the recruitment and retention of Native American and Alaskan Native students; to maintain and promote the truth, accuracy, and the history of Native people; and to honor and respect the various Native cultures and traditions.
The department office is currently closed. To learn more about the American Indian Studies Department, browse our website or contact us. To find out about upcoming events, visit our News and Events page.