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About NAS

About Native American Studies

Photo of Native American Stanford Students at Native Student Graduation, 2016

The purpose of the Native American Studies major and minor is to introduce students to a broad range of approaches to the academic study of Native American people, history, and culture. Students who major in Native American Studies have the opportunity of doing advanced work in a number of related fields, including literature, sociology, education, and law.

In addition to specialized course work about Native American issues, students also are expected to concentrate in a traditional discipline such as History, Anthropology, or Psychology, to ensure they have a well-rounded educational experience. All courses in the program in some way promote the ongoing discussion of how academic knowledge about Native Americans relates to experiences of Native American people and communities.

Students also have access to a variety of special resources, including academic and peer mentoring, summer paid internships, and special programs sponsored by the program and Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity.

History of the NAS Program

In 1970, the newly formed Stanford American Indian Organization (SAIO) conducted a needs assessment of Native American students at Stanford. The report advocated for Native American Studies, as well as a community center, theme residence, retention services, and increased recruitment of students, staff, and faculty.

Native American Studies and other ethnic studies remained a goal of student activists for many years. In 1987, SAIO along with other organizations representing students of color formed the Rainbow Coalition and presented a list of demands to the administration including improved curriculum and ethnic studies. Student activism culminated in a sit-in in 1989.

The first Native American studies classes were offered in 1992 by Professor Robert Warrior (Osage). Finally, in 1997, Native American Studies was  established officially  as part of the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity.