American Indian Studies Departmental Mission
American Indian Studies (AIS) at Augsburg is unique to our demographic of small liberal arts colleges in the United States. We stand alone as a leader in the area of American Indian and Indigenous studies through our departmental status; our global and local focus, which is enhanced through travel seminars within Minnesota and throughout Central and Latin America; our Native film studies options, which exceed most university, college, community college; and tribal college offerings by at least two courses and a film series.
Our mission is enhanced and grows out of our status as a unique department. Our mission is to educate students about the local and global historical realities of Native Americans/Indigenous peoples through an interdisciplinary perspective that values Native worldviews, philosophies, and ways of knowing. To this end, our teaching agenda is to help students think critically and globally about the diversity of Indigenous cultures, the complexities of issues of sovereignty and nationhood over time and within large socio-political and popular cultural representation; and to train them to think critically and act with agency. We see this as integral to our ethical challenge to educate about racism and eurocentrism, and their effects on marginalized groups in the United States as a whole.
Here in Minnesota and the Twin Cities we are constantly interacting with each other in our neighborhoods and in business, government, healthcare, and education. We need to understand each others’ stories.
As Haudenosaunee leader Oren Lyons explains, “Even through you and I are in different boats, you in your boat and we our canoe, we share the same river of life. What befalls me befalls you. And downstream, downstream in this river of life, our children will pay for our selfishness, for our greed, and for our lack of vision.” As Oren Lyon’s quote makes clear, the disconnects between what non-Native people may think of when they visualize American Indians and how American Indians think of themselves results in a gulf that affects us all.
American Indian Studies responds to the disconnections, misconceptions, and cultural rifts that have resulted in centuries of miscommunication, disinformation, and historical erasure by teaching with a Native lens.