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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 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 department has developed an interdisciplinary and comparative curriculum committed to providing educational programs and services to American Indian communities in California and North America. It offers students a solid theoretical and applied framework for understanding American Indian histories and contemporary cultures. It is distinguished in its continuing work with community organizations, tribes, and other academic disciplines to foster understanding about the political and social importance of American Indian sovereignty and self-determination. This work is inclusive of the Native peoples of the Americas and the Pacific.


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