The Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS) program at the University of Texas at Austin has a global, comparative focus with a particular strength in the Americas.  NAIS fosters and supports teaching and intellectual engagements around the languages, cultures, knowledges, histories, and current political struggles of indigenous peoples. We are particularly concerned with scholarship and intellectual exchange that contributes to the economic, social, and political advancement of indigenous peoples. We also contribute to efforts to build a diverse campus by actively working on recruitment of indigenous students and faculty.

While NAIS is housed in the College of Liberal Arts, our faculty and course offerings span schools and colleges through the university, including Education, Law, Music, and Information Sciences. The programs offer courses that allow our students to develop a broad and in-depth understanding of indigenous thought and indigenous issues. They also provide a community for NAIS students through social events, a brown bag series in which students present their work, and strong ties to student organizations. Our office in CLA 2.106 also functions as a lounge/meeting space with refreshments and access to educational materials for our students.

NAIS offers both an Undergraduate Certificate and a Graduate Portfolio program. We run an exciting speakers series that provides students, faculty and community members the opportunity to learn from and connect with indigenous intellectuals from around the world. We also provide summer research fellowships for undergraduate and graduate students. 

We are located in Room 2.106 on the second floor of the College of Liberal Arts Building (CLA). Please refer to our map.


Native American and Indigenous Studies at the University of Texas at Austin was founded in the fall of 2006 by James H. Cox (English), Loriene Roy (School of Information), Pauline T. Strong (Anthropology), Shannon Speed (Anthropology), and Gerald Torres (School of Law).

The Founding Envisioning Committee wrote in our founding documents that the main goal of the program would be to encourage an active intellectual and community engagement with Indigenous people and cultures. In 2006, we had approximately forty professors working with Native American and Indigenous communities and teaching Native American and Indigenous studies classes in nine departments and two professional schools. In just the ten years prior to 2006, graduate students had completed approximately 15 theses and 80 dissertations in the field. These professors and their students worked primarily in the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. We decided, therefore, that the hemispheric scope of faculty and student interest would define the program.

In an effort to build upon this active program of teaching and research, the Founding Envisioning Committee created a PhD and MA portfolio program that was approved by the administration in the fall of 2007. We established an undergraduate certificate program in 2009. The portfolio and certificate form the academic portion of the program, which is complemented by a speaker series, an annual spring celebration of our students, projects with student and community groups, and summer research fellowships for undergraduate and graduate students.

NAIS Spotlights

Undergraduate Certificate and Graduate Portfolio at NAIS: Undergraduate students interested in the NAIS Undergraduate Certificate Program should contact Acting Director Prof. Sergio Romero at sergio.romero@austin.utexas.edu, or email and meet Michael Scott, NAIS Graduate Assistant, at michael.scott@utexas.edu.

 Graduate students interested in the Graduate Portfolio Program should contact Professor Luis E. Cárcamo-Huechante, NAIS Director and Graduate Portfolio Director. 

Faculty Spotlights

Paola Canova

Paola Canova is a sociocultural anthropologist who serves as an assistant professor in the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies. Since 2000, she has conducted research with the Ayoreo people in the Chaco Region of Paraguay. Her research focuses on issues of gender and sexuality among the Ayoreo and how these intersect with economics and Christianity in the context of the changing political ecology of the region.

Fikile Nxumalo

Fikile Nxumalo is an assistant professor in the early childhood education program of the Curriculum and Instruction department. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Victoria (Canada). Her research interests are centered on pedagogical responses to young children's settler colonial and anthropogenic inheritances.

Related Links

College of Liberal Arts

Division of Diversity and Community Engagement (DDCE)

University of Texas at Austin