First Round of Approval for Native American and Indigenous Studies Minor


Diamond Naga Siu

The Native American and Indigenous Students Group has criticised the lack of a Native American and Indigenous Studies program in the past, claiming NYU’s status as a global institute should mean it represents all cultural identities.

By Caroline Haskins, Staff Writer

An Introduction to Native American and Indigenous Studies minor has just passed its first stage of approval, according to the Native American and Indigenous Student Group co-president Angelo Baca.

Native American and Indigenous Studies would be a five course minor, which Baca said would provide a foundational understanding of indigeneity from a cultural, linguistic and historical perspective. Baca said that the minor should be available for enrollment for spring 2018.

“We’re going for a worldwide indigenous population focus, given that NYU is more of a global institution that wants to put itself as a campus that has people from all over the world,” Baca said. “It makes sense to talk about indigeneity from all over the world.”

NAISG collaborated with Dean Gabbi Starr in order to create a Native American and Indigenous Studies Working Group, comprised of NYU faculty from the History, Anthropology and Social and Cultural Analysis Departments.

CAS Associate Dean Karen Krahulik said that the NYU Undergraduate Curriculum Committee will make the final decision to approve or deny the Intro to Native American and Indigenous Studies course.

“I sit on the UCC and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Working Group and I can attest that both groups of faculty are enthusiastic about both the course and the minor,” Krahulik said. “I also know it has the support of the CAS Dean of the College and [Faculty of Arts and Sciences] divisional deans. I fully expect that enthusiasm to be shared at the full FAS faculty meeting this coming Wednesday.”

Professor of History Barbara Weinstein said that professors Jane Anderson, Dean Saranillo and Elizabeth Ellis, who were highly involved in the construction of the Intro to Native American and Indigenous Studies course, are likely to teach it in coming years. Elizabeth Ellis was recently hired for the 2017-18 academic year as a professor of History, and she is a member of the Peoria tribe.

“I hesitate to say who will teach the course first, since such decisions are always made with the consent and participation of the likely instructors,” Weinstein said. “We are fortunate that we have several faculty members who have done important work in this area, and this will allow us to offer the required introductory course on a regular basis.”

GLS junior and member of NAISG Taylor Norman said that she views the approval of the Intro to Native American and Indigenous Studies course as a step in the right direction for the university.

“This effort has been very dear to multiple generations of Native and Indigenous students at NYU and seeing the university taking these measures has brought a newfound energy to our folks here on campus,” Norman said. “It is my hope that this minor will develop into not only a major, but also a department, and a special program at the NYU School of Law in the future.”

Norman said that despite her hopes for the future of these courses at NYU, she believes that in the present this development is a victory for indigenous students at the university.

Baca said that NYU is lacking in native american and indigenous faculty and a primary ask of NAISG is to expand the number of native and indigenous persons on the NYU staff.

“I know that the group itself, NAISG, would love to have a native scholar, an indigenous scholar of note to kick [Intro to Native American and Indigenous Studies] off, and to be coming from an Indigenous perspective in the way that they’re teaching as well,” Baca said.

Email Caroline Haskins at [email protected].