Studies & Degrees in American Indian Studies

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Captain John Smith’s visit in old Virginia paved the way for an encounter with the young Pocahontas in 1608. Perhaps, the good captain had an idea about the splendid life ahead of this legendary American Indian girl. Few years thereafter, Pocahontas also known as Rebecca Rolfe grew up to be a fine lady that captured the heart of the English settler John Rolfe who became her husband later on. Although she was renowned as the princess of the Chiefdom, she had to embrace westerners’ way of life after marriage hence her conversion to the Christian faith. Consequently, the infamous biography of Pocahontas is only a single facet of the interestingly complex studies of American Indian culture.

American Indians are believed to have settled in America back in Pre-Columbian period. Back then, people of Eurasian descent migrated to the Americas via land bridges which then settled in American lands. These indigenous people formed chiefdoms which became the basic political unit of small communities established. Cahokia was even founded in the regional level facilitating large scale tributary and trade that encompasses the Great Lakes stretching to the Mexican Gulf. Hunting is commonly the main source of livelihood hence the popular Clovis culture (big-game hunting) although women cultivated beans, maize, and squash. Upon the arrival of European settlers, some crops and yields as well as tools were introduced for further agricultural development.

As Native American culture has been influential to American history and culture, American Indian Studies comprise an interesting discipline in the academe. This particular area studies deal with the realm of indigenous people in North America at its entirety. No wonder, the study is comprehensive in nature covering culture, history, politics, economy, literature, sociology, and other related aspects. As a matter of fact, the Smithsonian Institution founded the National Museum of American Indian to showcase arts, culture, history, language, and literature of these indigenous people.

Attributed to wide ranging interest on American Indian Studies, the academe provided for relevant course programs on area studies. This field of study is accessible both in undergraduate and graduate schools. More often than not, it is placed under Bachelor of Arts program with specialization either in minor or major studies. Bachelor’s curricula include American Indian Studies, American Studies, and Native American Indian Studies. Graduate specializations consist of Master of Arts in American Indian Studies, Master of Arts in Indigenous Nations Studies, and Doctor of Philosophy in Indigenous Studies.

Career opportunities await American Indian Studies specialists. The Federal Government comprise an attractive employment niche for research and development efforts. In the same way, national governments dealing with these native societies can also tender occupational posts. Non-governmental organizations pursuing relevant area studies on this particular subject offer jobs to competent professionals. These include American Indian Science and Engineering Society, American Indian Movement, and National Congress of American Indians. Educational institutions likewise tender teaching professions to eligible degree holders who can share their expertise as more and more colleges and universities include pertinent academic courses. Most of the time, research function is commonly employed at work although administrative, supervisory, and discretionary tasks may apply in some cases.