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American Indian Studies

Created in 1996, the American Indian Studies major was designed to provide students with a greater understanding of the history, culture and values of the indigenous tribal nations of the United States. The program encompasses several disciplines including anthropology, art, biology, botany, education, geography, healing arts, history, language, law, literature, music and politics. Students gain valuable experience through field research and hands-on collaboration with faculty.

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The American Indian Studies program helped me learn how to discuss current issues regarding not only my tribe, but others as well. It encouraged me to consider different points of view on important issues.

Gabrielle White | American Indian Studies minor


  • American Indian Studies


  • American Indian Studies


  • American Indian Studies

Contact Info

Debra K. Barker, Ph.D., American Indian Studies
Hibbard Humanities Hall 384
124 Garfield Avenue

Department website

Prepared for success

This major prepares you to work in tribal government, education, human services, health care and other areas through interactions with Indian professionals, tribal leaders and peers. The major and minor in American Indian Studies are designed to support degree programs in nursing, education, business and social work.

UW-Eau Claire was the first university in the UW System to offer the AIS major and offers one of only three programs available in the UW System today. Our program is the only one to offer such a breadth of interdisciplinary courses, making it a great complement to many other majors or career choices. The Ojibwe language component of this major is extremely unique; no other school in the world offers Ojibwe classes online. These online courses are also being offered in smaller communities to help continue and preserve their native language. 

Typical positions held by American Indian Studies graduates include family services specialist, race relations specialist, community outreach worker, teacher or school counselor, literacy program coordinator, health educator caseworker, school counselor, work in environmental science or work in tribal law and government. 

Where are our grads?

  • History Teacher, Lac Du Flambeau, WI
  • Assistant Professor, UW-Green Bay
  • Executive Director of Education, Ho Chunk Nation
  • Doctor, Menomonie Nation
  • Post-doctoral student, Vanderbilt University, TN
  • Dean for Student Success, St. Paul College, St. Paul, MN
  • Recruiter, University of Illinois College of Medicine

Why UW-Eau Claire

Experiential Learning

Activities during American Indian Heritage Month enhance classroom studies. Students also participate in the annual Spring Celebration Pow Wow and the Inter-Tribal Student Council provides you with additional opportunities for social interaction and cultural enrichment.


There are plenty of internship opportunities through this major. Some recent internships include work with tribal organizations, the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, the American Indian Center in Minneapolis, the Ho-Chunk Nation, the Lac De Flambeau tribe, and tutoring for Indian students in the Eau Claire area.

Another exciting internship exists right on campus in a collaboration between McIntyre Library's Special Collections and the AIS program. McIntyre's Special Collections holds and cares for a vast number of American Indian artifacts, and students are able to work as curators of this collection.

Cultural Immersion

The “Water Protectors of Wisconsin” is a spring break experience that helps students understand the history, culture and science of humans and water in the Lake Superior Watershed, which is home to several tribal nations. After several weeks of in class content, students spend a week visiting three tribal nations and two companies to learn about protection of the Watershed.

Research Opportunities

As part of their capstone courses, students participate in student-faculty research projects, which include original research, applied Indigenous Studies, and field experience in which students consult with tribal community leaders. For example, a recent capstone student partnered with the Eau Claire School District to create a food sovereignty program for Native American students in the city. One of the goals of this program is to provide healthy after-school food programs that utilize foods from traditional Native diets while instilling healthy food choice habits for Native youth.

Did You Know - Fact

In 14 Wisconsin counties, the largest employers are American Indian enterprises.

First-Year Suggested Curriculum

Students majoring in AIS will begin their course of study by taking six credits of required courses in American Indian Studies. A student can easily sign up for AIS 101 (Introduction to American History and Cultures) in the fall semester, and continue with AIS 102 (Introduction to American Indian Expressive Cultures) in the spring semester.

Course Work / Pre-Professional Courses

 The American Indian studies major consists of 36 semester credits including:

  • AIS 101, Introduction to American History and Cultures
  • AIS 102, Introduction to American Indian Expressive Cultures
  • AIS 480, Capstone Course 

Special Admission Guidelines

Because there are AIS courses in almost every Liberal Education Category, it is possible to earn a minor in AIS simply by choosing AIS courses for several LE categories, and even a second major in AIS can be earned without many additional courses. Many students find themselves adding American Indian Studies as a second major in order to enhance their cultural competency.

The AIS major program requirements can be successfully completed in four years and is an excellent preparation for graduate study. 

Printable APS Sheets | Catalog Links | Degree Plans

Academic Program Sheets
Academic Program Sheets
Academic Program Sheets