The research, teaching, and service in the American Indian and Indigenous Studies area focuses on the histories, contemporary experiences, languages, expressive culture, and political statuses of Indigenous people within and beyond the United States. Our major and minor explore Indian Country to teach students critical, career building skills such as research, writing, and critically engaging with texts, images, and ideas. Graduate study in AIIS trains students to become contributing members of intellectual and tribal communities. An AIIS graduate student can expect to encounter a rigorous and interdisciplinary study of the sovereignty, philosophies, practices, histories, and contemporary presences of tribal nations and indigenous peoples.

Our department also maintains several different AIIS funds and donors can specify what fund they would like their gift to go to. If you have any questions about these different funds, contact our interim Department Chair, Bernie Herman or visit https://americanstudies.unc.edu/make-a-gift/ for more information.

The American Indian Studies Fund (100110)
The fund will be used to support the education and research objectives of faculty members working in the field of American Indian Studies.

The Henry Owl Fund (100111)
The fund will be used to support the education and research in Cherokee history, languages, and culture.

American Indian & Indigenous Studies Overview

Begun as a “program” in 1998, American Indian and Indigenous Studies established a minor in 2003, and inaugurated a major concentration with the Department of American Studies in 2008. We feature a dynamic multidisciplinary community of faculty, students, and staff. Our research, teaching, and service focus on the histories, contemporary experiences, expressive cultures, languages, and political status of indigenous peoples in and beyond North America.  Many of us are devoted to collaborative research, and we value engaged scholarship that is relevant to Native American and Indigenous communities. AIIS collaborates with the UNC American Indian Center on a variety of activities and programs–including the Elder-In-Residence Program, annual Michael D. Green Lecture, and Carolina Seminar in American Indian and Indigenous Studies–and is supportive of the Research Laboratories of Archaeology at UNC. If you have any questions regarding the AIIS major/minor, please contact our coordinator, Dr. Keith Richotte, via email.

Chancellor Carol L. Folt, Dr. Jenny Tone-Pah-Hote, and Elder-in-Residence Dr. Simon Ortiz at the Carolina Indian Circle Powwow, 2014.

Undergraduate Studies

The American Indian and Indigenous Studies concentration provides a meaningful grounding in the histories, cultures, and contemporary experiences of peoples indigenous to North America, as well as their encounters with settler states. The curriculum increasingly provides opportunities for students to gain a hemispheric perspective that includes the histories, cultures, and contemporary experiences of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas.

You may look through a list of undergraduate courses for this major. If you have any questions, please contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Graduate Studies

The graduate program in American Studies is home to American Indian Studies dedicated to increasing the understanding of the histories, contemporary experiences, expressive cultures, and political status of indigenous peoples in and beyond North America through collaborative research and engaged scholarship relevant to Native communities.

Doctoral Students Mattea Sanders and Meredith McCoy raise awareness in the Pit, Fall 2014
Doctoral Students Mattea Sanders and Meredith McCoy raise awareness about Native stereotypes in the Pit, Fall 2014