Native American Studies

Encyclopedia Article


An academic field that is dedicated to the study of the history, geography, literature, politics, and culture of indigenous people in the Americas, with a particular emphasis on contemporary issues of identity and sovereignty. Native American studies grew out of the American Indian Movement of the 1960s, which, along with the broader Civil Rights Movement, protested racial discrimination, dispossession, and forced assimilation. In the 1970s, the first meeting of American Indian scholars at Princeton University set the formal parameters for the new academic field, focusing on indigenous rights and centering traditional knowledge grounded in oral history and Native philosophy.

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