Lack of Native American studies program concern American Indian professors

By Gus Bode

There are only 85 four-year institutions that offer Native American courses

Colleges such as University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana use the image of a Native American to represent their school.

However, U of I does not offer an American Indian Studies program. In fact, no university in the state of Illinois offers a course pertaining to Native American heritage.


Of the minority studies programs offered by universities in the United States, Native American studies programs are undoubtedly the most rare.

With slightly more than 100 programs in the nation, there is reasonable concern for Native American education, according to a “Guide to Native American Studies Programs in the United States and Canada.”

“It’s one of the most neglected areas,” said Wayne J. Stein, an associate professor of higher education and Native American studies at Montana State University. “There is very little taught in K-8 about

Although there is overwhelming demand for minority studies programs in various areas such as Asian, Hispanic and Black American studies are certainly the hardest to find.

In fact, only a total of 85 four-year universities nationwide offer Native American courses.

As a professor of Native American studies, Stein is familiar with concern that programs focusing on a particular race promote separation.

“Those of us who are Native, Asian, Hispanic or African American, we have been taught white studies since we were in the first grade, if we are going to worry about separation,” said Stein. “The only way to develop a stronger, better country is if we know ourselves.


“I feel these people are alarmed for no reason at all. But every one’s entitled to their own opinion.”

Stein feels that the half Native American, half non-native American enrollment of these programs at Montana State University clearly show there is a definite interest in the area.

Although Meg Quintal resides in an area with nine reservations and a high Native American population, she believes programs such as the ones offered at her university are important to have at every university.

“I think there a lot of people with a basic interest in American Indian studies,” said Quintal, an administrator in the institute of American Indian studies at the University of South Dakota. “We get inquiries from all over the world from people wanting to know more about our program.”

Although their enrollment has fluctuated throughout the years, Joseph Giovanetti, assistant professor at the University of Humboldt in California, said he believes Native American programs are necessary to represent the voice of the American Indian population.

While these programs do not exist in many states, including Illinois, Quintal agrees that the Native American studies program does have significance and a place in any university.

“These programs may be specific to one culture, but they certainly help to expand the knowledge of the larger population.”

Reporter Jessica Yorama can be reached at [email protected]