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American Indian Studies

Minor and Certificate Programs

Welcome to American Indian Studies at Washington State University!

We offer two options for undergraduate students and non-degree-seeking professionals to gain valuable knowledge and abilities in Native American studies, including history, culture, politics, and contemporary issues. Both the minor degree and the certificate in American Indian Studies are important assets in a variety of rewarding professions that involve direct and indirect interaction with tribal communities, individuals, and business enterprises.

Course requirements for the minor and certificate are the same, consisting of 9 credits from core course listings plus 9 credits of elective coursework (for a total of 6 classes). Unlike the minor, a student pursuing the AIS certificate does not need to be enrolled in a degree program at WSU.

Reflecting a variety of specializations, courses in the AIS program are drawn from the departments of Anthropology; Critical Culture, Gender, and Race Studies; History; Music; and Fine Arts.

As spelled out in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between WSU and 10 Columbia Plateau tribes, by offering the minor degree and the certificate in AIS, the University “promotes Native American studies and educational programs throughout the University . . . serving the needs of Native American students, other students, and the Signatory Tribes.” WSU is committed to creating a regionally relevant AIS program. In addition to classroom studies, opportunities are provided to AIS students to work in local indigenous communities for up to 3 credit hours, participating in a collaborative, tribally directed arrangement, in a program that honors both the intent of the MOU and the University’s land-grant responsibilities to surrounding Columbia Plateau tribes.


For more information about the American Indian Studies Program at WSU, please contact Alma Rocha, advisor, at 509-335-3781 or

Learn more about opportunities and programs for Native students at WSU through the Plateau Center for Native American Programs.

“Native American tribal governments, as well as individuals who are American Indians, are customers and important stakeholders involved in all aspects of Avista’s daily operations. Our company values employees with diverse backgrounds and experience, such as those who have completed an AIS (American Indian Studies) program. Avista is enriched by the diversity of our employees.”

Toni Pessemier
American Indian Relations Advisor
Avista Corporation, Spokane, Wash.

Courses for minor and certificate

AIS Core

CES 171 Introduction to Indigenous Studies 3 credits  Introduction to Indigenous studies; introductory course to contemporary indigenous cultures and politics.

HIST 308/CES 375 North American Indian History Precontact to Present 3 credits History of North American Indian peoples from circa 1350 to present. (Crosslisted course offered as HIST 308/CES 375). North American Indian History, Pre-contact to Present (HIST 308)

ANTH 320/CES 377 Native Peoples of North America 3 credits A culture history/culture area study of native North America. (Crosslisted course offered as ANTH 320/CES 377)

History 410 History of American Indian Sovereignty and Federal Indian Law 3  The history of sovereignty and Federal Indian Law against the backdrop of treaties and trust responsibility. (Crosslisted course offered as HISTORY 410, ANTH 410, POL S 410).


ANTH 312/CES 372/W ST 200 3 credits Indigenous Women in Traditional and Contemporary Societies Spring 2012 This class is an exploration of roles and activities of women in indigenous societies. Course instruction includes but is not limited to traditional gender roles, how they have developed and evolved, and contemporary indigenous women issues.

ANTH 327/CES 378 Contemporary Native Peoples of the Americas 3 credits Contemporary cultures of Native American communities emphasizing North America. (Crosslisted course offered as ANTH 327/CES 378)

ANTH 331 America Before Columbus 3 credits Cultures and environments of North/Middle America from the arrival of the earliest hunter-gatherers to the complex Mayan and Aztec civilizations. (Crosslisted course offered as ANTH 331, CES 376). Recommended preparation: ANTH 101.

ANTH 334 Time and Culture in the Northwest 3 credits The archaeologically reconstucted environmental and cultural past of the Northwest including contemporary scientific and social approaches and issues. Recommended preparation: ANTH 101.

ANTH 401 Contemporary American Indian Issues 3 credits Key cultural, economic, educational, legal, resource, and sovereignty issues facing Indian communities today. *Cooperative course taught by UI, open to WSU students (AIST 401)

ANTH 535 Cultural Resource Management 3 credits Role of archaeology in historic preservation and resource conservation; legal and institutional frameworks; research and interpretation in a CRM context. Cooperative course taught by WSU, open to UI students (ANTH 535).

CES 373 Native American Literature 3 credits Native American literature, by and about the original inhabitants, image and counter-image, with emphasis on the 20th century. (Crosslisted course offered as CES 373, ENGLISH 341).

CES 379 Indigenous Film 3 credits Critical examination of films and videos featuring and by indigenous peoples; traces the history of the indigenous peoples as subjects of films and as filmmakers. Indigenous Film.

CES 470 Indigenous Politics 3 credits Course Prerequisite: Junior standing. An overview of the struggles of indigenous people; issues include rights, recognition, identity, natural resources, intellectual property, and repatriation globally.

CES 475 Indians of the Northwest 3 credits Course Prerequisite: ANTH 320, CES 171, 375, 377, or HIST 308; junior standing. History and ethnography of Native Americans of the Coast and Plateau; historic relationship with Europeans and Euro-Americans, and other Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Chicanas/os.

CES 499 Directed Independent Study in Native Communities (see AIS Coordinator for more information)

FA 301 Arts of Native North America 3 credits Diversity of visual forms, traditional and contemporary, within changing historical and cultural contexts.

MUS 265/CES 271 Native Music of North America 3 credits Music and ceremonialism as a reflection of North American, Native cultures, past and present.

Inter-institutional course collaboration

In May of 2008, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Lewis-Clark State College, North Idaho College, Northwest Indian College, the University of Idaho, and Washington State University to foster collaboration in work related to American Indians. The MOU called for the establishment of a Collaborations Committee comprised of representatives from the five participating colleges and universities. The Committee’s mission is to “strengthen the instruction and scholarship about, and services to Native Americans offered by each institution.” Toward this end, course collaborations are being developed by which students can take courses at any participating institution and receive credit at their home college or university. Washington State University and the University of Idaho will be the first to collaborate in this way, offering courses beginning in fall of 2011 and Spring 2012. Please contact the Plateau Center for AIS regarding Inter-Institutional Course collaboration for the course information to register.

Special Topics: Indigenous Methodologies

Special Topics: American Indian Studies