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Hot List: Native Studies Programs

From environmental studies to an online master’s program for busy hospitality professionals, universities across the U.S. are offering more and more specialty programs for Native students. Check out these five universities, which offer a cornucopia of educational programs, from hospitality and gaming management to fine arts and law.

This Master’s Degree in Gaming and Hospitality Management Won’t Make You Leave Home

Resort and casino managers in remote tribal communities often must choose between staying on the job or going away to study when they wish to further their education. But they can now balance working and learning through the online master of hospitality administration program offered by the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The 30-credit program offers advanced training in best practices in hospitality or gaming management on the student’s schedule—“study anywhere, start anytime,” says their website. It’s a great way to advance a career while working in the field.

‘Toto, I think we’re in Kansas’— the University of Kansas that is

The University of Kansas’s Indigenous Studies Program can’t help you find Toto. But, the acclaimed program combines a commitment to the indigenous communities it serves with the opportunity to engage with top faculty such as Muscogee Creek law scholar—and Native domestic violence victims’ rights advocate— Sarah Deer and Dr. Robert Warrior, Osage. The program offers an undergraduate minor or a master’s, a joint master’s and law degree, a graduate certificate and a joint professional science master’s degree in environmental assessment combined with an indigenous studies graduate certificate. Program coordinator Brandy Ernzen notes that “the flexible, interdisciplinary master’s program allows students to choose an area of specialization as well as choose whether they complete a thesis or portfolio as their final exam.” With all these options, KU may be your path to a meaningful career.

Native Scholars Find a Home in the Old Pueblo

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The University of Arizona’s American Indian Studies Program is one of the U.S.’s earliest such programs. Since its founding in 1893, the Tucson-based UA has been dedicated to forming relationships with tribes. First to offer master’s and Ph.D. degrees in American Indian studies, UA’s AIS programs aim to promote “Indian self-determination, self-governance, and strong leadership.” UA’s Native faculty are also stars in their field; study with Ofelia Zepeda, Tohono O’odham, environmental scientist Karletta Chief, of the Navajo Nation, or other noted scholars in a multitude of disciplines. UA also offers a certificate in Native nation building, where students explore critical nation-building issues and engage in research to put their training to practical use. Tucson is also a great place to experience Southwest tribal life, with the Tohono O’odham Nation and Pascua Yaqui Tribe’s homelands close by.

Tulsa Law graduate Rebecca Many Grey Horses (Kainai).

Tulsa Law graduate Rebecca Many Grey Horses (Kainai).

Get Your Kicks— and your J.D.—on Route 66

It’s hip. It’s happening. And it’s in the heart of Oklahoma Indian country. The University of Tulsa’s College of Law, with 35 Native nations nearby and within the Muscogee Creek Nation’s original borders, offers law students one of the nation’s oldest and most robust Indian law programs through its Native American Law Center. The university’s law school offers an Indian law certificate as part of its Juris Doctorate program. Non-attorneys who wish to have a firmer foundation in Indian law can choose the LLM in American Indian and Indigenous law. The faculty are nationally recognized Indian law experts, and two of them are contributors to Felix S. Cohen’s Handbook of Federal Indian Law, which resides in virtually every Indian law attorney’s library. And, you’ll get to experience life in Tulsa, one of the Midwest’s hippest cities on old Route 66.

Walk in the Steps of Native Art Giants

The Institute of American Indian Arts continues to grow in stature and size. The small Native high school founded on the grounds of the Santa Fe Indian School in 1962 rose to prominence when Native art legends Lloyd Kiva New (a co-founder of IAIA), Fritz Scholder, Allan Houser and other 20th century artists converged on the small institution to teach young Natives about art, literature and the world around them. As IAIA’s reputation as a premier university grew, so did its offerings. Today, students can study for degrees ranging from associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in studio arts, creative writing, museum studies, new media arts, and indigenous liberal studies. Recently, IAIA added a master’s of fine arts in creative writing. And, of course, IAIA’s museum, the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in downtown Santa Fe, is one of the United State’s finest showcases for creative expressions from master and emerging artists.

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