Jul 22, 2024  
2020-2021 Catalog 
2020-2021 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

American Indian Studies Minor

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Program of Study

The American Indian Studies (AIS) minor focus is derived from American Indian epistemologies and a place-based perspective. Provides students with an opportunity to engage intellectually and to develop critical understanding of tribal sovereignty, the culture and identity of California Tribal nations, and American Indians in North America more generally. The minor prioritizes the worldviews of Tribal nations, and introduces students to important work in American Indian (de)colonization, political and economic development, arts and culture, Tribal systems of knowledge, health and wellness, environment, resource management, cultural revitalization, political theory, activism, and nation building. The American Indian Studies Minor offers students the knowledge and expertise needed to develop critical perspectives and understand the theoretical frameworks structuring historical and contemporary issues related to American Indian communities. The AIS Minor challenges students as they develop the research skills and cultural competence needed for community engagement and project development, which can lead to internships and other career opportunities with American Indian communities, organizations, and tribal governments. As a whole, the American Indian Studies Minor enriches students by offering the prospect to develop the cultural proficiency required to work successfully in the diverse professions that serve American Indian communities.

American Indian Studies is a research-based, interactive program grounded in place-based higher learning. The American Indian Studies Minor offers students an integrated knowledge platform to understand the diverse needs and interests of American Indian communities in California and beyond. There are 18 federally recognized American Indian reservations in San Diego County, more than 35 American Indian reservations in the region, and 110 federally recognized tribes in the State of California. Cal State San Marcos is ideally situated to serve the needs of tribal nations in our state. This base of knowledge draws upon multiple areas related to the history and current state of American Indians in the United States.

American Indian Studies Department Mission Statement

The Mission of the American Indian Studies Department is to provide students with a research-, community- and place-based program of study through an integrated approach to understanding tribal knowledge. Students will learn about the diverse history, government, sovereignty, community, culture, and social needs of American Indians in California and the Nation with the goal of working effectively with and for tribal communities and within the larger community.

Program Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Analyze the legal and historical foundations of American Indian political identity to understand contemporary issues in American Indian relations and communities.
  2. Analyze American Indian epistemologies and other forms of knowledge to develop cross-cultural understanding.
  3. Communicate knowledge about American Indian cultures, communities and peoples through mass media, film, and arts.
  4. Recognize and evaluate the historical, cultural, social, economic and political contributions American Indian leaders, writers, artists, and activists to develop cross-cultural understanding and respect.
  5. Evaluate the roles, images, and perceptions of American Indians in historical and contemporary issues and events to decolonize and construct cross-cultural understanding.
  6. Apply research skills through community engagement and experiential learning to communicate knowledge about American Indian sovereignty.

Career Opportunities

Students who earn the minor will have the particular knowledge and sensitivity necessary to enhance their abilities to work successfully as educators, healthcare providers, administrators of businesses and tribal and other governmental bodies, and members of other professions serving American Indian communities. American Indian Studies helps prepare a workforce-ready student by providing opportunities for faculty and students to work in partnership with American Indian Nations and Communities.


Completion of the minor requires twenty-one (21) units of credit, fifteen (15) of which must be upper-division courses, and twelve (12) of which must be completed at CSUSM. Courses must be completed with a grade of C (2.0) or better to count toward the minor.

  • All non-articulated courses MUST be reviewed and approved by a faculty advisor.
  • All courses used for the minor must be completed with a grade of C (2.0) or better.
  • Twelve (12) units must be completed at CSUSM.

Total (21 Units)

*Can be taken as part of the Primary Coursework or as an elective.

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