A celebration at the Seneca Nation of Indians. Photo by Tami Watt.

St. Bonaventure University

Native American and Indigenous Studies Program


  • How were Native American and indigenous people portrayed in history, media and popular culture, from pre-European contact to the present day?
  • What contemporary issues do Native American and indigenous people face, such as land and environmental rights, food and health issues, economic development and environmental concerns, the exercise of indigenous sovereignty, and language revitalization?
  • How does one study indigenous peoples using historical, anthropological, sociological, literary, and public health approaches?
  • What sort of jobs and occupations would benefit from knowledge about Native American and indigenous issues, locally or nationally, such as jobs in education, law, health professions, science, administration, or government?
Seneca Smoke Dance

These and related questions comprise the focus of the Native American and Indigenous Studies program. Using an interdisciplinary approach, the program introduces students to issues facing Native American and indigenous people from a variety of perspectives. The NAIS program offers a minor that prepares students to deal with these issues in their potential lines of work.

The Native American and Indigenous Studies program adds to the culturally responsive instruction already offered by St. Bonaventure.


The Seneca Nation of Indians

St. Bonaventure University sits on the historic homeland of the Seneca Nation of Indians and is within 20 miles from the Seneca Nation’s Allegany Territory. The past few years saw a cultural exchange developing between the university and the Seneca Nation in the form of Iroquois dance and song shows on campus and a number of workshops that educated St. Bonaventure faculty on the Iroquois cultural traditions.

The NAIS program is a logical progression of this cultural exchange that comes out of ideas developed during those workshops and is intended to promote the understanding of the history of contact between European settlers and Native Americans, as well as of the way Native Americans live today.


A Seneca child holding her doll

Program information


Students may participate in the NAIS Program in several ways, according to their academic interests and career goals.

  • Completing the NAIS minor.
    • The minor pairs well with several majors, including history and sociology.
    • Students preparing to work with Indigenous communities may wish to combine the minor with a business major or the public health major.
  • Taking individual courses in the minor.
    • Many of these courses fulfill other academic requirements. For example, NAIS 101 and NAIS 205 satisfy the general education diversity designation requirement, and NAIS 110, NAIS 111, NAIS 210, and NAIS 211 satisfy both the modern language requirement (of the majors that have one) and the general education diversity designation requirement.

Minor in Native American and Indigenous Studies

The NAIS minor could enhance one’s success in the following fields of employment.

  • Government and law: matters related to Indian Affairs.
  • Public Health: working with members of Native American communities.
  • Education: working in areas that service members of Native American communities.
  • Business: areas related to types of business that involve Native Americans (such as the gaming industry).

Requirements for the Native American and indigenous studies minor


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