Native American Studies

What Can I Do With A Major In Native American Studies?

The Native American Studies Department at the University of Montana builds its curriculum on the foundation of three interrelated principles: sovereignty, indigeneity and community well-being. In so doing we pay close attention to the continuing role of traditional value systems, the impacts of colonization and the efforts toward decolonization within tribal communities. We define sovereignty broadly as one of the rights of all indigenous peoples, including both the political-legal foundations as provided in U.S. law and policy and self-determination more generally. Indigeneity underlies the unique holistic relationship that Native American communities have to the land and to the environment. In addition, our degree program not only intends to advance the well-being of our individual students, both native and non-native, but also to enhance the well-being of Indigenous communities across Montana, the United States and globally, by providing necessary and relevant education about those communities as well as the skills and knowledge for those working within those communities to do so effectively. Our curriculum and the foundations of faculty research are broadly cross-disciplinary with these principles at their base.

Native American Studies is an academic discipline committed to examining the contemporary and past experiences and life ways of the first Americans from their perspective. The curriculum is designed to provide a study of American Indians from a holistic and humanistic viewpoint by focusing upon their cultures, history, and contemporary life. Courses are designed for both Native American and non-Native American students so they can better understand human similarities and differences, thereby leading to the development of better communications and cross-cultural relationships.

The Native American Studies major supports the objectives of a liberal arts education. It is interdisciplinary, offering courses from literature to history, and provides a perspective that critically analyzes and evaluates the strengths and limitations of each contributing discipline. As part of the major's liberal arts and interdisciplinary focus, all students completing the major must complete a minor in another field.

NAS is an especially valuable major for people who intend to work in Montana or another state or region with a significant American Indian presence and is often used as a second major by students in all fields, from business to education to service work. Alumni have found their knowledge of Native American issues and communities to be helpful both in finding jobs and in their work. For these reasons, Native American Studies is also a popular second major. In a state like Montana, which has a high population of Native Americans, it is important for people to have a basic working knowledge of Native American communities. 

A Sample of Related Occupations

Please note that some of the occupations listed above may require additional education and/or training. Please refer to the following link for information about the graduate programs at The University of Montana:

Types of Employers

Private and Non-Profit Organizations

Media Organizations
Cultural Preservation Programs
National Resource Organizations
Non-Profit Organizations focused on Indian Affairs
Public Administration
Social Service Agencies
Environmental Organizations
Historical Societies
Tribal Government
Employers also include businesses (one of our alumni works at Native American Bank), not for profits that focus on social justice (National Coalition Building Institute), school districts, universities, colleges, and tribal colleges. 

Government Agencies

Tribal, State and Federal Agencies
National Congress of American Indians
Department of Interior
Department of Education
Housing and Urban Development
Bureau of Land Management
US Forest Service
Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian
Smithsonian Institution
Library of Congress
Department of Justice
Bureau of Indian Education
Bureau of Indian Affairs
Indian Health Service
US Park Service

Related Web Links

Professional Associations