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History of AIS

general_aisAmidst the exciting and often volatile civil rights struggle, American Indian, First Nations, and Indigenous Studies emerged as an academic answer to a number of issues facing a society with an increasing awareness of contemporary American Indians. Some of these issues included a lack of adequate information on and knowledge about American Indians, a need for models or approaches that focused on issues framed by Native American history, culture, and sovereignty, and a need for public institutions of higher education to serve Indian communities.

The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul were at the heart of this when American Indian Studies began to emerge in the late 1960s. In fact, the first department of American Indian, First Nations, and Indigenous Studies was founded at the University of Minnesota in 1969. Along with the founding of the American Indian Movement in 1968 and the first National Indian Education Association Conference in 1969, the Twin Cities served as a catalyst for activism and a model for change for the rest of the country.

Honoring the spirit of the activist 1960s and 1970s, American Indian, First Nations, and Indigenous Studies at Augsburg is dynamic, multi-cultural, interdisciplinary, and involved in the community! We are unique among other American Indian, First Nations, and Indigenous Studies programs in offering service-learning courses and internships that bring students together with community organizations, programs, events, and issues.

Initially, the program started in 1978 with the establishment of the American Indian Student Services office and courses in Interdisciplinary Studies and History. Over the next twelve years interdisciplinary courses were added that expanded the cultural and social scope of the program. These courses linked with other Departments and Programs including, Art, English, Social Work, Religion, and Interdisciplinary Studies. Augsburg approved an American Indian Studies Minor in 1990, a Major in 2001, and Departmental status in 2006. Our majors come from Augsburg as well as the other ACTC colleges. Today we have increased our course offerings and cultural experience programs to reflect our growth and commitment to American Indian, First Nations, and Indigenous Studies and global issues. Each year we offer day immersion trips, special guest speakers, internship opportunities, and a Native American Film Series.  In addition, we provide the opportunity for students to engage with Indigenous communities of the Americas every other year through our international travel seminar.