Letter From The Department Chair


Dear Colleagues,

I hope that all is well and you are having a nice day. It is truly an honor to serve you all as chair of the American Indian Studies Department at SF State University. The accomplishments and dedication to American Indian cultures, pedagogy, and student success demonstrated by our faculty, staff, and students serve as examples of best practices within our field. The support and success of our alumni continue to inspire and I am energized by the employers – particularly those addressing NAGPRA concerns and seeking to maintain workplace diversity here in San Francisco  – that want to hire the students we have the privilege to teach.
Pedagogical excellence is central in the mission of the American Indian Studies Department. Faculty, tenured and lecturer alike, take great pride in being guided by interdisciplinary epistemologies within and outside of the field of American Indian Studies. This diversity of approaches challenge our students to think critically about the differences and similarities between American Indians' lives of the past and present and their own. The emphasis placed on duality in the curriculum, that link the concerns of tribal communities with academic rigor, enable our faculty to harness their expertise and passion for teaching in ways that lend to greater student cultural competence and prepare them to meet the high expectations set for them.
The excellence in research demonstrated by our faculty is the corner stone upon which community relationships and pedagogical rigor within our curriculum rests. Not only does it motivate faculty to keep pushing accepted boundaries within the field but outside it as well in the areas of cultural ecology, ethnography, ethno-linguistics, history of consciousness, mixed-race studies, and music.  Our professors represent a small cadre of scholars who have distinguished themselves both nationally and internationally while seeking to challenge the most ingrained myths about American Indians, the roles they have played in the United States and internationally, over time, and the goals of historical and contemporary cultural maintenance and revitalization movements. These focal points of analysis and investigation lend to the preparation of the next generation of inquisitive American Indian Studies scholars.  
The success of our faculty is indelibly linked to student success. Faculty success would not be possible without motivated students that are committed to achievement when faced with rigorous courses of study. In a similar vein, student success would not be possible without faculty wedded to empowering learners to cope with the barriers to achievement faced (i.e., food and housing insecurities and the need for mentoring and tutoring). It is this empowerment that shows how our faculty meets the university mission of preparing students for the twenty-first century. Consequently, our graduates further the department’s reputation for producing critical and informed thinkers that are able understand American Indian diversity within San Francisco, other Bay Area communities, and nationally. It is my sincere hope that this semester will be one of continued exploration, where new students find a niche within our major, current students continue to achieve and break down the barriers in their way, and faculty continue to indefatigably ensure their success.  
While you all were considering me for the position of department chair, I came up with three goals for this semester that map onto President Wong’s Strategic Plan (see resilience, equity, and community. My efforts to ensure resilience in the department will consist of grandfathering in the best practices created by my predecessors (i.e., Dr. Joanne Barker and Dr. Andrew Jolivette) and active consultation with faculty, alumni, and community liaisons to discover new ones. To ensure equity, my efforts will consist of revisiting department policies and procedures, through active dialogue with tenured and lecturer faculty, to ensure effective communication and equality in all aspects of department business. Lastly, to facilitate community, my efforts will include outreach to strengthen the common unity between faculty, students, and community members on and off campus to promote the growth of our department in pedagogical practice, relevance, and rigor.    
It is in the light of department growth that I not only have the honor of welcoming faculty back for the 2016-17 academic year, I also have the honor of congratulating Dr. John-Carlos Perea on his recent tenure and promotion to Associate Professor. Dr. Perea’s tenure and promotion, like that of Dr. Barker’s and Dr. Jolivette’s recent promotions to Professor since Professor Emerita, Dr. Betty Parent, mark historic milestones for the American Indian Studies Department. With the most tenured faculty and most full professors in the history of our department, we stand strong. It is also a pleasure to welcome three new Lecturer faculty into our department: SF State alumna Professor Amanda Whitecrane, Professor Luis Chavez, and Professor Rain Prud’homme-Cranford.  
            In closing, I want to thank all of you for your tireless commitment to student success and the growth of American Indian studies within and outside of our campus and local American Indian communities. Your support of the department ensures that the legacy of Richard Oakes and the student demand for relevant American Indian education and pedagogies further motivates us to maintain a robust curriculum that meets the needs of our students, from first time freshmen through life-long learning elders. 

Robert Keith Collins, PhD



Important Dates for Fall 2016

Students can submit the form to declare the major or minor between September 1 - November 1, 2016.


·         August 24: First Day of Instruction

·         September 14: Last Day to Add/Last Day to Drop

·         September 30: Last Day to Submit Graduation Application for January 2017*

·         October 19: Last Day for Credit/ No Credit Grading Option

·         December 14: Last Day of Instruction

·         December 15-21:  Final Exams

* Please complete your graduation application and begin the process of advising and obtaining signatures at least ONE month prior to the deadline. 


More dates and deadlines can be found here:


20 Best Deal for Colleges on Native American Studies




San Francisco State University

#2 - San Francisco State University

San Francisco, California

Points: 12
Enrollment: 29,465
Net Price: $9,356

San Francisco State University, a large institution in the heart of the city, is committed to combining strong academics with opportunities for personal development. Among the College’s 118 majors is the Bachelor of Arts degree in American Indian Studies (AIS). The primary scope of this degree is to give students an understanding of the complex history, social issues, and politics of the Native American people. Outside of the classroom, students on the AIS track have the chance to work with local community groups. One of these groups is the American Indian Child Resource Center (AICRC), a respected nonprofit that serves Native families in need.

Archived News:


"B.A. Created in American Indian Studies"
by Katrina Van Loan, Staff Writer

AIS Major Approved
The proposal was approved unanimously by the Academic Senate in December 2006 and has been approved by the CSU Board of Trustees as part of SFSU's Master Plan in March 2007. It is now being edited in preparation for a review by CPEC.
To see a copy of the proposal, click here.

Honoring The Past

Richard Oakes (Mohawk)-AIS
Founder and Indian Activist
-About the Richard Oakes Memorial Center at SFSU
-History of American Indians in California
-Alcatraz Is Not An Island
-The American Indian Occupation of Alcatraz Island, 1969-1971- Photo Collection

Wilma Mankiller (Cherokee) - SFSU Alumnus
Mankiller: A Chief and Her People
By Michael Wallis and Wilma Mankiller
(Griffin Trade Paperback, 1999)

Deron Marquez (San Manuel Band of Mission Indians)- Tribal Chairman and SFSU Alumnus
San Manuel Band of Mission Indians