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Facts: Department of American Indian Studies

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The American Indian Studies Department at the University of Washington advances and promotes knowledge integral to Native peoples through research, teaching, and community service. It is the largest and most comprehensive program of its kind in the Pacific Northwest.

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American Indian Studies approaches its teaching and research from a decolonized, community based, and global perspective. American Indian Studies faculty and students strive to develop innovative theories and methodologies that increase knowledge about Indigenous Peoples and support the needs of Indigenous communities. The department promotes faculty and student exchange programs with institutions that are committed to a deeper understanding of Indigenous communities and Peoples throughout the world. The American Indian Studies Department offers a major in American Indian Studies, a minor in American Indian Studies, and as of Spring 2018, a minor in Oceania and Pacific Islander Studies. As of Autumn 2018, the department is also the home of a newly created research center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies. The Center aims to support research being done in American Indian and Indigenous Studies across all three UW campuses, as well as collaborations with the surrounding Native Community.

Tribal Gaming and Hospitality Management Certificate

The department offers a certificate in Tribal Gaming and Hospitality Management, taught in collaboration with faculty from the Foster School of Business. The program teaches students the essentials of accounting, finance, business management, and marketing, with a specific focus on the tribal gaming and hospitality industry. The certificate was created in response to community requests for continuing education opportunities and development of professional skills. The certificate is designed with experiential learning in mind and the majority of class sessions are held on site at various partner casinos throughout the state of Washington.


  • 17 Undergraduate majors
  • 25 Undergraduate minors
  • 994 Students taught in 2018

*Winter 2019

Degrees Awarded*

  • 16 Bachelor of Arts degrees 

*2017 - 2018

A Sample of Courses Offered

  • AIS 102: Introduction to American Indian Studies
  • AIS 103 The Indigenous Pacific Northwest
  • AIS 170: American Indian Art and Aesthetics
  • AIS 209: The Unsettling of the Red Continent: American Indian History to 1815
  • AIS 270: Native Peoples of the Pacific Northwest
  • AIS 314/315/316: Southern Lushootseed Language and Culture
  • AIS 335: American Indians and the Law
  • AIS 340: Indian Children and Families
  • AIS 377: Contemporary American Indian Literature
  • AIS 379: Powwow: Traditions and Innovation
  • AIS 480: Indigenous Resistance and Resurgence Movements in the United States, Canada, and Mexico



3 Professors

  • Stephanie Fryberg (Tulalip Tribes)
  • Daniel Hart
  • Christopher B. Teuton (Cherokee Nation)

4 Associate Professors

  • Charlotte Coté (Nuu-chah-nulth)
  • Jean Dennison (Osage)
  • Dian Million (Tanana Athabascan)
  • Joshua L. Reid (Snohomish)

7 Adjunct Faculty

  • Chadwick Allen (Chickasaw)
  • Kathryn Bunn-Marcuse María
  • Elena García
  • Sara L. Gonzalez
  • Sven Haakanson (Aluutiq)
  • Tony Lucero
  • Cynthia R. Pearson

5 Lecturers

  • Roger Fernandes (Lower Elwha Klallam)
  • Tami Hohn (Puyallup)
  • Scott Pinkham (Nez Perce)
  • Michael Tulee (Yakama)
  • Cynthia Updegrave

5 Emeritus Faculty

  • Alexandra Harmon
  • Cheryl Metoyer (Cherokee)
  • Marvin Oliver (Quinault/Isleta Pueblo)
  • Luana Ross (Salish)
  • Gary Witherspoon

*Winter 2019



American Indian Studies faculty, whose scholarship represents a range of academic disciplines, are nationally and internationally known for their work. Published works by our faculty include:

  • The Power of Promises: Rethinking Indian Treaties in the Pacific Northwest
  • Spirits of Our Whaling Ancestors: Revitalizing Makah and Nuu-chah-nulth Traditions Indians in the Making
  • Rich Indians: Native People and the Problem of Wealth in American History
  • Therapeutic Nations: Healing in an Age of Indigenous Human Rights
  • Cherokee Stories of the Turtle Island Liars’ Club
  • Deep Waters: The Textual Continuum in American Indian Literature
  • Reasoning Together: The Native Critics Collective
  • The Sea is My Country: The Maritime World of the Makahs
  • The Truly Diverse Faculty: New Dialogues in American Higher Education
  • Colonial Entanglement: Constituting a Twenty-First-Century Osage Nation


Outreach and Student Support

When Native American students are in the process of selecting a university, they consistently ask two questions:

  1. Does the university have a Native Studies program?
  2. How many Native professors are at the university?

The American Indian Studies Department at the University of Washington allows for positive answers to both questions. Moreover, since cultural support is so crucial to the retention and graduation of Native students, American Indian Studies also plays a vital role in the process from recruitment to graduation for the University’s 500+ Native students.

Yearly, American Indian Studies — through advising, staffing, and direct financial contributions — supports major Native American events on campus:

  • The Annual Raven’s Feast Native American Graduation Ceremony. Held on campus at wәtәb?altxw Intellectual House, Raven’s Feast celebrates the achievement of all University of Washington Native American graduates: bachelor, masters, doctorate and professional degrees. Professor Marvin Oliver, a renowned Northwest artist, provides an original framed print to each graduate. Led by Oliver, American Indian faculty and staff at the University host a salmon feast for 500-600 participants, including graduates and their families.
  • Sacred Breath: Writing and Storytelling Series. This series features Indigenous writers and storytellers at wәtәb?altxw Intellectual House.
  • The Living Breath of wәtәb?altxw: Indigenous Foods and Ecological Knowledge Symposium. This annual event brings together individuals to share their knowledge on topics such as tribal food justice and security, traditional foods, health, community, place, responsibility, climate change, and treaty rights.
  • The Annual University of Washington Powwow. For nearly 35 years, in support of the First Nations student organization, American Indian Studies has helped create and support a two-day competitive powwow, the second largest in the Northwest. The powwow draws between 10,000 to 15,000 participants and spectators.
  • Internship with Pyramid Communications Indian Country Division. In partnership with Pyramid Communications’ Indian Country team, students have the opportunity to complete a paid 5-credit internship that allows students to build valuable work experience while getting the chance to work on Native causes with Native people. Students gain experience working with tribes, corporations, universities, environmental groups, and more, while applying the Indigenous systems of thought taught in American Indian Studies in the workforce.



Department of American Indian Studies
Box 354305
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195
(206) 543-9082


Fact sheet last updated: February 2019