American Indian Studies

Students interested in pursuing American Indian Studies will find a depth of scholarship at Michigan State. Graduate students receive training in the methods and historiographies of American Indian history, generally focusing on the years of contact or on the sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. Professor Susan Sleeper-Smith chairs many of the committees, with other committee members drawn the history department and from a wide range of American Indian Studies faculty in other departments. There is much to be gained by comparing the colonialism that has affected American Indian communities with the colonialism that has changed the lives of other peoples around the world. Our department’s strengths in Africa, South America, the Middle East, and Chicano Studies makes comparative study an especially appealing opportunity.

Students complete two fields in history and are able to complete two minor fields outside the department, which enables students to pursue a well-rounded course of study that recognizes the complexity of Native cultures. The specifics of the field will vary according to the particular interests of the student. Students in American Indian Studies generally complete one language, preferably Ojibwe. For those whose focus is the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, French is also recommended.

Michigan State University heads a consortium of colleges and universities involved in the training of American Indian Studies students at the graduate level. It is also a member of the Newberry Library American Indian Studies Consortium. The Newberry Consortium draws on the Newberry Library’s world-renowned collections in American Indian and Indigenous studies and the resources of the McNickle Center to offer a series of annual workshops, institutes, symposiums, conferences and fellowships to graduate students and faculty at member institutions.  Both consortia are integral to graduate student training and offer academic opportunities that further enrich and enhance American Indian Studies at Michigan State University.