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The Third World Liberation Strike of 1969 led to the establishment of the only College of Ethnic Studies in the United States. In that context, the beginnings of the Red Power Movement in the occupation of Alcatraz Island from 1969-71 deeply informed the founding of the American Indian Studies Department. American Indians from the Mission District and American Indian students on campus, including Richard Oakes (Mohawk), guided the development of the department's objectives and curriculum, hiring local community elders to teach courses in American history and culture. Their vision was based on a commitment to community participation and service -- from the community to campus and from the campus to the community -- towards the goal of facilitating American Indian self-determination through education.

Today, the American Indian Studies Department's educational mission and objectives have a special responsibility to Native peoples of California and the United States. The program scope is focused on Natives of California, North American Indian cultures, environmental sustainability concerns, genders and sexualities, histories, languages, laws, mixed-race, and music with the aim of preparing students to work with rural and urban communities in California and throughout United States. The program also includes an international comparative perspective on coalitional politics with Native peoples of U.S. occupied territories and more broadly within the Americas and the Pacific. Students learn to understand American Indians within an interdisciplinary and comparative curriculum, based in solid theoretical and applied frameworks, that balances classroom education with active community participatory learning. This curriculum prepares students for graduate studies and working with community organizations, tribes, and other academic disciplines to foster understanding about the political and social importance of American Indian sovereignty and self-determination. 


To learn more about the American Indian Studies Department, please email: aismain@sfsu.edu.