Pottery Shards

Program Mission, Learning Goals, and Degree Outcomes


The Department of American Indian Studies in an interdisciplinary major that seeks to understand and explicate to students the complex experiences, traditions, and lifeways of the Indigenous peoples of North America, pre- and post-contact with peoples of European descent. We are dedicated to comprehending both the vast diversity of this experience as it manifests in hundreds of Native nations in North American and the similarities that cross cut these diverse Indigenous communities. We seek to produce well-rounded majors who can draw relationships between various kinds of academic knowledge from history to literature, anthropology to legal studies, theology to cultural studies. At the same time we teach students how to view the world from Indigenous perspectives that may vary greatly from Western forms of knowledge production. We are committed to the concept of tribal sovereignty and to understanding how this sovereignty is founded upon Indigenous notions of law, history, ecology, religion, art, literature, and kinship. We also teach critical analysis of how European and U.S. settler colonialism seeks to undermine tribal sovereignty and Native land bases by promoting racialized hierarchies, manipulation of mass media, and interpretation of law. We have a particular focus on educating students about the experience of the Indigenous peoples of San Diego. Lastly, we teach students how to make academic knowledge valuable to the world outside the academy as we emphasize the importance of doing research that is meaningful to and motivated by the needs of the Indigenous communities that currently surround SDSU and upon whose homeland SDSU currently sits. We teach students how to make their education useful beyond the academy and beyond commencement.

  1. Diversity of Tribal Histories, Contexts, and Values
    Understand diverse tribal histories, contexts and values.

  2. Public Policy and Tribal Nations
    Recognize impacts of public policy on diverse tribal nations.

  3. Tribal Institutions
    Articulate how tribal institutions and cultures reflect diverse values.

  4. Survival of Traditional Cultures
    Identify and analyze policy impacts on survival of traditional cultures.

  5. Traditional Land Use
    Identify and analyze policy impacts on traditional land use.

  6. Tribal Sovereignty
    Identify and analyze policy impacts on tribal sovereignty.

  7. Tribal Economic Development
    Identify and analyze policy impacts on tribal economic development.

  8. Cultural Heritage Preservation
    Develop awareness of cultural heritage preservation needs.

  9. Preserve or Promote Tribal Cultures
    Acquire knowledge necessary to preserve or promote tribal cultures.

  10. Preserve or Promote Indigenous Languages
    Acquire knowledge necessary to preserve or promote Indigenous languages.

  11. Historical Forms of Oppression
    Identify historical forms of oppression towards American Indian peoples.

  12. Contemporary Forms of Oppression
    Identify contemporary forms of oppression towards American Indian peoples.

  13. Advocate Resistance to Oppression
    Acquire knowledge necessary to advocate resistance to oppression.

  14. Repatriation of Sacred Objects
    Understand processes of repatriation of sacred objects.

  15. Protection of Traditional Sacred Sites
    Understand means to protection of traditional sacred sites.

  16. Native Intellectual Property
    Understand major legal defenses of Native intellectual property.

  17. Indigenous Modes of Knowledge
    Understand production, transmission, and preservation of Indigenous modes of knowledge.

  18. Global Networks of Indigenous Peoples
    Identify emergent global networks of Indigenous peoples.

  19. Global Contexts in the Articulation and Defense of Indigenous Rights
    Evaluate role of global contexts in the articulation and defense of Indigenous rights.

  20. Indigenous-Led Ecological Sustainability Efforts
    Evaluate role of global contexts in Indigenous-led ecological sustainability efforts.
  1. Recognize diversity of tribal communities
    Students will learn and recognize the vast diversity of "pre-" and "post-" contact American Indian communities both those that are federally and non-federally recognized tribes. Students will also familiarize themselves with the debates surrounding notions of the identity of Indianness, and the "Native Hubs" or network of American Indian peoples connecting in diverse circumstances and locations.

  2. Value Indigenous knowledges and sustainability
    Students will explore and learn the value of Indigenous knowledges and modes of ecological and cultural sustainability. They will also be able to compare these American Indian epistemologies with conventional Euro-American values toward ecology and culture.

  3. Enact preservation and promotion of cultural heritage
    Students will learn skills necessary for preserving and promoting American Indian cultural heritages, languages, and other representations of culture.

  4. Identify mechanisms of oppression
    Students will gain the ability to identify and analyze the ways governmental systems, laws, religion, educational systems, healthcare systems, mass media, and popular culture have been used in America to propagate policies and behaviors that oppress American Indians and to promote notions of Indianness that rationalize and justify this oppression.

  5. Support processes of decolonization
    Students will comprehend the various notions of decolonization in the context of American (and global) Indigenous communities both as an academic theory and a matter of socio-political praxis. They will learn the ways in which American Indian communities seek to use Indigenous systems of knowledge as guiding principles to organize their communities. Our classes will teach them the models to aid in this process by teaching the best practices and more practical modes of decolonization in contemporary Indian Country. This will enable students to support American Indian communities in this process by being mindful of how they interact with American Indian communities and support and value Indigenous knowledge production.

  6. Comprehend global Indigeneity
    Students will comprehend the emergent global networks of Indigenous communities worldwide particularly in the realm of Indigenous rights and ecological sustainability, and the shared experiences of settler colonialism.

Download: Detailed Degree Learning Outcomes  | Curricular Map