In honor of Native American Heritage Month, we're celebrating the establishment of the American Indian Studies department!
Founded in 1971, American Indian Studies began as a program. Its first chair, John C. Rouillard (Santee Dakota Sioux), created support services for Indigenous students, developed the program's curriculum, convened an interdisciplinary faculty, and secured important grant funding. At this same time, students also organized the Native American Student Alliance (NASA). In 1972, NASA and American Indian Studies began hosting annual American Indian Culture Days, a multi-day program featuring speakers, music, and performances culminating in a pow-wow. These pow-wows are still held annually on campus.
In 1976, American Indian Studies became an official department in the College of Arts and Letters. Today, the department offers a major and minor with classes on a wide range of topics emphasizing local and regional tribal history and culture. The department continues to support Indigenous students through the Elymash Yuuchaap Indigenous Scholars and Leaders Program, the Native Resource Center, and other partnerships.
Images: University Archives Topical File, Special Collections & University Archives.