The Center for Indian Studies was established at Black Hills State University by an act of the South Dakota Legislature. The mandate of the Center is:
- To serve as the administrative unit for academic programs in American Indian Studies (AIS major and minor)
- To act as a coordinating and liaison facility for issues and programs dealing with Indian students (BHSU has the highest proportion of American Indian students of any South Dakota state institution of higher learning)
- To promote awareness of American Indian cultures, value systems, and social problems among both Indian people themselves and members of the larger society
- To assist the University in both recruiting and retaining students of American Indian ancestry
- To act as a liaison with tribal governments, tribal educational facilities, and American Indian organizations in the Northern Plains region when so requested
- To support, encourage, and seek funding for research and publication pertaining to all areas of American Indian culture, language, and heritage
The Center currently administers four academic programs: the Major in American Indian Studies, leading to the Bachelor of Science degree; a general Minor in American Indian Studies; the Minor in American Indian Studies - Teaching; and an American Indian Studies Minor, Emphasis in Communications.
The Major in American Indian Studies was first offered in the Fall of 1997. It is cooperatively offered by Black Hills State University and the University of South Dakota, and is the only such cooperative program in the United States. For further information on these programs, please follow the link indicated above.
The Center for Indian Studies actively supports two student organizations: Lakota Omniciye ("a gathering, assembly"), and the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES).
Lakota Omniciye is currently the largest student organization at BHSU campus, in terms of budget. This organization promotes fellowship among Indian and non-Indian students, and organizes an annual Cultural Awareness Week and Wacipi (pow-wow) in early April that is now in its 31st year. In past years, the Wacipi has attracted as many as 3,500 persons, making it one of the larger pow-wows in the state.
AISES assists and supports Indian students who are preparing for careers in the areas of science, engineering, and technology.