Institute of Native American Studies at the University of Georgia
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Native American Studies is relatively new as a discipline, emerging only about thirty-five years ago. Though it continues to evolve, today Native American Studies is an exciting and vibrant field of inquiry with a network of scholars throughout North America. Central to it is the study of the Native nations of the Americas from the perspective of the indigenous peoples themselves.

The focus of Native American Studies is forward-looking. It does not concentrate on the past. It seeks to understand the place of indigenous cultures and sovereign Native nations in contemporary North America. However, one cannot understand the contemporary reality of Native Americans unless one understands their histories. Related to this, before the coming of Europeans, Natives had thousands of years of history in this hemisphere. In many cases there are only two ways to know this history: the oral traditions of Native cultures and archaeology. INAS offers courses in both these subjects. But some cultures, such as the Anasazi and the Mississippians, can only be known either by the oral traditions of others or by archaeology. We therefore consider an archaeological requirement central to our programs. In addition, students will find that this requirement points up a long-standing strength in Native American Studies at UGA.

Because of its relative newness, most colleges and universities around the country do not have programs in Native American Studies. For instance, elite institutions like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton lack an academic presence in the discipline. With the creation of the Institute of Native American Studies (INAS), UGA signals its intention to be at the forefront of the development of the field. It joins well-established departments and programs at schools like Cornell University, Dartmouth College, the University of Arizona, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of California at Davis, the University of Kansas, the University of Michigan, and the University of Oklahoma, among others. UGA’s programs are the only ones of their kind in the Southeast United States.

The core of INAS’ instructional mission is its undergraduate and graduate certificate programs. These programs permit students to earn UGA degrees in any field, while earning a separate credential attesting to special expertise in Native American Studies. We believe that a certificated degree in Native American Studies is an ideal springboard for any number of future endeavors. Those who earn the certificate could work for Native nations or any number of public and private agencies that have dealings with Native Americans. Those with the graduate certificate could teach in their underlying discipline or in Native American Studies. Undergraduates could go on to graduate studies, either in Native American/American Indian Studies or in their major. A certificated degree in Native American Studies also makes an ideal foundation for going on to law school.

The Director of INAS serves as the academic advisor for all students in the graduate and undergraduate certificates. Interested prospective students should contact the Director at jweaver@uga.edu or at (706) 542-1492. Such students should also print out the declaration form by clicking on the button below. After completing the form, forward it to the Director.

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