American Indian Studies at BHSU

American Indian Studies 


The Center for American Indian Studies at Black Hills State University offers numerous courses across disciplines to help students fully understand the experiences of American Indians across the Northern Plains and the United States as a whole. In addition to promoting awareness of American Indian cultures, values, and social concerns, the Center for American Indian Studies also helps facilitate the academic programs for the American Indian Studies major and minor.

  • STUDENTS BENEFIT FROM A MULTIDISCIPLINARY APPROACH by taking courses cross-listed between American Indian Studies and English, Sociology, History, Political Science, and more.
  • THE CENTER FOR AMERICAN INDIAN STUDIES IS A HOME AWAY FROM HOME where students can study, participate in student organization meetings, relax with friends, and seek assistance from an advisor or tutor.
  • THE AMERICAN INDIAN STUDIES MAJOR prepares students to examine the world around them from a comparative perspective—students will learn how American Indian voices rise to challenge the dominant society’s viewpoints of indigenous cultures, histories and sovereignty.

South Dakota and the Black Hills themselves are rich in Native American history and culture, and a degree in American Indian Studies from BHSU will give you deep understanding of this dynamic and exciting world.

American Indian Studies graduates often find careers with tribal, state, and federal governments, as well as in education, cultural resource management and tourism.

The AIS Program at BHSU offers:

  • A diverse faculty, with knowledge about Native peoples from and around the country.
  • The opportunity to explore many challenging contemporary issues.
  • Many extra-curricular activities, such as the annual powwow.
  • A welcoming environment in the Center for American Indian Studies

American Indian Studies Course Requirements

Major in American Indian Studies (37 hours) 

  • 4 AIS/LAKL 101 Introductory Lakota 1 (gen ed)
  • 3 AIS/ARTH 251 American Indian Art History (gen ed)
  • 3 AIS/ENGL 214 Introduction to American Indian Literature (gen ed)
  • 3 AIS/HIST 257 Early American Indian History & Culture (gen ed) 
  • 3 AIS/HIST 369 Modern American Indian History & Culture
  • 3 AIS/POLS 417 American Indian Government & Politics 
  • 3 AIS/SOC 422 Issues in Contemporary Indian Life
  • 3 AIS/SOC 444 Siouan Tribal Culture 
  • 15 AIS or INED Electives 

Minor in American Indian Studies (21 hours)

  • 3 AIS 257 Early American Indian History & Culture (gen ed)
  • 3 AIS 369 Modern American Indian History & Culture
  • 3 AIS  422 Issues in Contemporary Indian Life
  • 3 AIS 444 Siouan Tribal Culture
  • 9 AIS Electives

Minor in American Indian Studies - Communications Emphasis (24 hours)

  • 3 AIS 115 - American Indian Oral Lit
  • 3 AIS 214 - Intro to American Indian Lit
  • 3 AIS 257 - Early Am. Indian Hist/Culture
  • 3 AIS 369 - Modern Am. Indian Hist/Culture
  • 3 AIS 444 - Siouan Tribal Culture
  • 3 ENGL 256 - Literature of American West
  • 6 AIS Electives

Minor in American Indian Studies - Teaching Emphasis(21 hours)

  • 3 AIS 257 - Early Am. Indian Hist. & Culture
  • 3 AIS 369 - Modern Am. Indian Hist/Culture
  • 3 AIS 422 - Issues in Contemporary Indian Life
  • 3 AIS 444 - Siouan Tribal Culture
  • 6 AIS Electives
  • 3 SEED 415 - 7-12 Social Science Methods *

* This is required only for those taking Secondary Education. Those taking Elementary Education should replace this with an additional three hours in Indian Studies courses. Also LAKL 101 and ENGL 214 are required for a teaching endorsement. EPSY 428 is required for the K-12 endorsement.

*Current students, please refer to the DegreeWorks Dashboard in MyBHSU to confirm your major requirements.

C A R E E R  O P P O R T U N I T I E S

There are employment opportunities in a variety of sectors:
» Tribal Governance
» Education
» Multicultural Advisor
» Government Liaison
» Museum Curator
» Political Activism

Student Organizations

Lakota Omniciye

Lakota Omniciye strives to develop and augment the Black Hills State University educational system to meet and specialize in the unique needs of American Indian students, and will take all appropriate and necessary steps within its prescribed power to plan for such programs. This student organization also plans and hosts the Lakota Omniciye Wacipi (Pow-wow) every April.

american Indian Science and Engineering (AISES)

The American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) is a national non-profit organization which nurtures building of community by bridging science and technology with traditional Native values. The goal of AISES is to serve as a catalyst for the advancement of American Indians and Alaska Natives as they seek to become self-reliant members of society. AISES also provides many students with valuable scholarships for college.

JaCEY Garcia

Member of the Yankton Sioux tribe from Lake Andes, Jacey Garcia has already felt an impact from BHSU. Garcia is double majoring in American Indian Studies and Social Science and is a member of the National Guard’s 155th Engineer Company.

“The American Indian Studies program has helped me learn more about the history of my heritage and who I am.”

Josie Drobny, Class of 2018

Josie Drobny, a Black Hills State University student from Martin, SD, completed a paid internship through Sanford Research aimed at preventing alcohol-exposed pregnancies among teenage girls living on the Pine Ridge Reservation. She presented her research results at the Great Plains Sociology Conference of 2018 in Aberdeen, SD, where she earned first place in the research poster competition. Josie said the internship was a great opportunity to apply what she learned in her human services and sociology majors at BHSU.

“It was awesome to be in Pine Ridge and observe how programs like these are beneficial and to see first-hand that research is changing lives.”

Koty Janis, class of 2020

From the Oglala Lakota Nation, Koty Janis will graduate in the fall of 2020 with and American Indian Studies major. At the fall 2018 graduation ceremony, Janis was provided an opportunity to offer a prayer in Lakota for the graduates.

“BHSU allows me to bring Native American Awareness through the American Indian Studies department. Táku wašté ečhámičuŋ kiŋ líla phiwála. (I am thankful for the good things American Indian Studies does for me.)”


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