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American Indian Studies

Examining the world from a comparative perspective

Contemplate the Indigenous Experience

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
Video Transcript
Urla Marcus Director for the Center for AIS: It's not only a spiritual place, but a, It's just a real comfort for our students to come and not only live and grow, but to learn in the Black Hills. And so a lot of people travel from across the world to come to the Black Hills. We're very unique that we are cross listed with every one of our classes in our discipline. So if students were in history they can take an AIS course, or if they're in English, or sociology, psychology. They can all have an opportunity to study American Indian Studies. What we want students to walk away from this degree is having, you know, that foundation with American Indian Studies, as in history, language, component. So that they can not only recognize some of the issues, but how can they move towards reconciliation and move towards understanding, so that more of our people can live together.
Rosie Sprague Assistant Director: It starts with American Indian Awareness Week. Those are Monday through Friday, there're speakers that are on campus. Usually between 10 and 15 speakers we have every year come in and talk about a specific focus. This year it's on family and home. Last year it was on the environment. And Lakota Omniciye, a student organization, they're the ones who--it's 100 percent run by the Lakota Omniciye. They do the fundraising, they do everything, so it's really student run. We just kind of back them up and you know, its a really really big event on campus. Probably the biggest.
Urla Marcus: We actually have quite a few non-natives who travel to Black Hills State to study American Indian Studies. We find that a lot of our native students who come to Black Hills State aren't specifically seeking the major, but once they take a class or two then they start taking more, and then pretty soon they have a minor and then a major. Some people come to play and some people come to pray, because the spirituality that these hills possess.
Rosie Sprague: This is our Mecca, you know. This is where we come, and so it's really powerful for our students to be able to be here on campus and Spearfish, right, you know, at the heart of the Black Hills.

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
Jacey Garcia Head shot



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.”

Contact Info

Urla Marcus
Jonas 103 Map
Phone: (605)642-6578

Black Hills State University
1200 University St.
Spearfish, SD, USA 57799