The American Indian and Native Studies Program, now NAIS, was established in 1993 with the three-credit course “Introduction to American Indian and Native Studies.” Faculty and guests from American Studies, Anthropology, and Law team taught the popular undergraduate course. Cross-listed courses from other departments expanded the scope of content and allowed students to a obtain a minor or certificate in the program. “Introduction to American Indian and Native Studies” reflected the intent to center the certificate around an interdisciplinary approach to American Indian culture, history, languages, arts, beliefs, political and social organization, economies, and contemporary legal and political problems of Native Americans. Early organizers aimed to help students gain an understanding of issues that impact Indigenous peoples of the Americas and to do “cross-cultural” work which is necessary for professionals in various health, legal, business, and the academy.
NAIS proudly carries that work forward with specific attention to the Indigenous tribes of the Midwest who have suffered Indian Removal, but maintain a presence, a physical settlement in the case of the Meskwaki people, in Iowa and in the region.