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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 WCP 4.110 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 4.110 on the fourth floor of WCP.


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.

Indigenous Rights Forum

Indigenous Rights: A Forum Ten Years After the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007-2017)


NAIS Spotlights

NAIS is pleased to announce the Race, Indigenity & Migration Major as part of a collaboration with GRIDS. Find out more here

Undergraduate Certificate and Graduate Portfolio at NAIS: Undergraduate students interested in the NAIS Undergraduate Certificate Program should contact the Program Advisor, Jennifer Graber, at

 Graduate students interested in the Graduate Portfolio Program should contact Professor Kelly McDonough, Graduate Portfolio Program Advisor. 

Faculty Spotlights

Jennifer Graber

Jennifer Graber is Associate Professor of Religious Studies, a member of the NAIS Advisory Council and the Academic Advisor of the NAIS Undergraduate Certificate program. Dr. Graber is the author of The Gods of Indian Country: Religion and the Struggle for the American West, which is forthcoming from Oxford University Press in spring 2018. This new book is an in-depth study of religious transformations among Kiowa Indians and Anglo Americans during their conflict over Indian Territory, or what is now known as Oklahoma. Dr. Graber received her PhD in religion from Duke University. 

Luis Urrieta

Luis Urrieta is a Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the College of Education at UT, and a faculty affiliate of NAIS. Dr. Urrieta is an Indigenous/P'urhépecha and Latino scholar. During the academic year 2016-2017, Dr. Urrieta was the Anne Ray Fellow at the School for Advanced Research (SAR) in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he worked on his book manuscript titled, Resurgent Indigeneities: Re/Making Indígena and Comunalidad through Education in Rural Mexico. Dr. Urrieta’s book focuses on the development of a P’urhépecha mothers’ community movement for better educational opportunities for their children in a context of neoliberal globalism, neoliberal discursive formations, and the dismantling of subsistence agricultural economies in Michoacán, México. 

Related Links

College of Liberal Arts

Division of Diversity and Community Engagement (DDCE)

University of Texas at Austin