Native American studies as a discipline developed in the 1960s as a way to bring Native experiences and perspectives into the college classroom to better understand the history, achievements, and struggles of Native people and to counteract neocolonialist and stereotypical views of Native peoples.
NAMS at Ithaca College is an interdisciplinary minor organized around various themes related to the present and past of indigenous peoples in North America and Hawaii. The NAMS initiative includes a 21-credit minor, speakers and cultural events, intercollegiate activities, diversity recruitment, and community outreach. Seven academic departments -- anthropology; cinema, photography, and media arts; philosophy and religion; history; politics; sociology; and sport management and media -- are participating in NAMS, making it a highly interdisciplinary area of study.
Native Americans are a prominent social and cultural presence in our region. Ithaca is located within the homeland of the Cayuga Nation, one of Six Nations of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy. The Onondaga and Seneca Nations are near Ithaca as well.
Contemporary Native American issues such as cultural revitalization, land claims, health care, repatriation of human remains, and casinos appear regularly in the local news. Understanding these issues in terms of their history, cultural contexts, and economic impact is important for students in many fields of study. The NAMS minor may be particularly valuable to students pursuing careers in communications, education, multicultural outreach, human services, medicine, and the social sciences.
Photo Credit: Michelle Boulé, The Ithacan. Kalen Marvin, right, from the Mohawk Nation, plays a turtle shell rattle during a dance by the Young Spirit Dancers at the First Peoples' Festival, an annual event co-sponsored by Ithaca College and the NAMS Program