American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program


It’s important because we occupy Cayuga land and benefit from their removal. It’s important because American Indians deserve to have their history learned and to have a voice within the mainstream American education system. It’s a matter of respect and basic decency to honor those who were here before and are very much still here!

The American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program is integral to Cornell, not least of all because of our University’s literal location on occupied land.

Because now more than ever we need to be able to understand and stand in solidarity with people different from ourselves with full respect for their experiences. - Grace Robbins, FGSS ’16

We need AIISP because this is such a marginalized voice not only on Cornell University’s campus but within the US as a whole. We can learn so much from the historical and ongoing genocide and exploitation of American Indian and Indigenous populations in the US by settler colonial and big oil - Carrie Freshour

I believe that it is vitally important for us to understand diverse viewpoints and learn to see things from different viewpoints. As such it is essential to have programs for this kind of education. With regards to Indigenous studies, I think it is especially important for us as Americans to understand the real history and complex issues surrounding native peoples in this country. I always knew there was a lot that wasn’t talked about in regular history classes but this courses (AIS 1100) has really opened my eyes and allowed me to look critically at almost all aspects of modern culture.

This class broadened my perspective on Native American identity and culture and made a more informed citizen in regards to Indigenous communities. AIISP promotes the qualities of diversity and compassion that makes Cornell what it is.

As a resident of the Native American program house, AKWE:KON, I know that I need to educate myself on the native peoples of the US and the world and their cultures, struggles, and accomplishments. We must not forget whose land we’re really standing on!

You get to learn more about the Native history which has been marginalized in mainstream education. - Bryan

Because land is important. Because we need to disrupt the American colonial project.

Because you should learn about the people whose land we stand on - Pablo

We deserve more education on real Native American history and current situations, rather than the simple, shallow coverage of this subject matter in most American public elementary and middle schools. And these people deserve their true history to be known, so people can be informed about ongoing issues today.

It brings a valuable perspective to other courses.

Courses in this field are relevant now more than ever. I feel like personally, having no ties to AIISP, the topic at times seems obscure. And then things come up like the Dakota Access Pipeline that proves just how crucial it is to learn about groups like Native Americans.

There are ongoing issues involving Native Americans today that I would not know about if it weren’t for AIISP. As a member of the Choctaw tribe, I feel that native American studies are an important part of Cornell.

It has opened my eyes to other perspectives and the oppression of Native peoples face on a daily basis.

We need AIISP because centering marginalized voices and perspectives is critical to dismantling oppression.

AIISP gives Native Students at Cornell a voice. With a lack of funding, we are unable to share it. Please consider our plea.

Because this class was an essential step for me to recognize my privilege and bring visibility to otherwise marginalized and invisible groups that I would have otherwise been ignorant about. This class has helped me question traditional knowledge and incorporate what I have learned into other aspects of my life.

American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program

I believe that it is vitally important for us to understand diverse viewpoints and learn to see things from different viewpoints. As such it is essential to have programs for this kind of education. With regards to Indigenous studies, I think it is especially important for us as Americans to understand the real history and complex issues surrounding native peoples in this country. I always knew there was a lot that wasn’t talked about in regular history classes but this courses (AIS 1100) has really opened my eyes and allowed me to look critically at almost all aspects of modern culture.

This class has changed my life more than any class I’ve taken at Cornell. I’ve learned of people, cultures, worldviews that have been silenced through centuries of colonization and these ways of life have highlighted the destructive nature of our culture. I see no other way forward in life than to combat the destruction that this class has revealed to me. - Carsten Thue-Bludworth, ’17 Engineering Physics

This class is SO important because it makes the UNHEARD -> HEARD. It challenges the one-sided science heavy society we live in. It takes about the meaning of life. It gives me hope.

I am not generally a proponent for humanities courses and, as I am preparing to graduate in January, I really wish that my major encouraged me to take more STEM courses and fewer humanities courses as I seek fulfilling employment. However, I still believe that the AIISP is an invaluable and under-supported and under-recognized facet of Cornell. Native American voices continue to be suppressed daily and our history of colonization is not adequately dealt with in most American education programs. I have so immensely enjoyed the three AIISP... I have taken (1120 (Science meets spirit), Native American Languages and Indigenous Philosophies), gaining more perspectives, context and thus agency to engage in productive conversation that I would have thought possible. Even though I am a math and science kid, those were the courses I wrote home about, praised to no end and longed to discuss in my free time. The average Cornell student knows so little about Native American issues, worldviews, cultures, histories - not even the Anglicized name of the people whose land upon which we are standing. How could Cornell set these students free to engage with and create American society, science, policies and structures without at least the opportunity to understand the ongoing impacts and experiences of American colonization? - Zoya Kaufmann

It’s so very important to offer AIISP courses to educate all students on indigenous peoples to make a better informed public. Often AIISP is treated as an afterthought within the University and this needs to change.

It’s important to learn about perspectives that have traditionally been overlooked and labeled as “lesser”. Learning about Indigenous worldviews has influenced the way I relate to the world around me, has led me to reevaluate my relationship to the world and look at how I can live more sustainably and in harmony with nature. AIISP has helped me try to be a better, more responsible member of the global community - Arielle Andrer

As a non-native, white, European individual, it is my responsibility to learn about the land I am living in, about the people whose land I’m living on , about the whole history of this country, not the white male centric history that dominates mainstream America. This is why I need AIISP. This is why we need AIISP - EMH

The AIISP has really opened my eyes to the plight of indigenous groups today! American Indians have the highest poverty rate of any US minority group and reservations are in dire need of health care and basic necessities like plumbing. We all need to be more aware of the perspectives of others, especially when in a position of privilege and AIISP is really...

...important vehicle of that.

It is important to have open-minded conversations with people who have different perspectives - even if you disagree with them!

I learned so much about Native American thought and culture through this class. It has really opened my mind on how other people can think and live - Colleen

These types of classes (AIISP) are such an important element to this school. The content I learned this past semester has made me a more diverse and conscious thinker. Cultures outside our own are difficult to reach but these courses really grasp it in a way I’ve yet to experience elsewhere.

The AIISP class, “Thinking From a Different Place” has not only lived up to its name, but also exceeded my expectations. My worldview has grown so much and my professor has shown an outstanding ability to make dense philosophical material engaging and creative. One of the best/most important classes I’ve taken in my four years.

I believe classes such as this one really enhance in-depth understanding of other cultures/beliefs and emphasize self-reflection of one’s own life. They challenged me to think critically more than a lot of the other classes I have taken at Cornell and while they teach a lot of information, they also explore how to be more respectful and responsible to others and the world around us.

AIISP classes helped me to discover identity, my own as well as others. It guided me to realize that Indigenous peoples matter, that they exist, and that their knowledge may be the key to addressing the economic, social, political and environmental issues we face today. It has opened my worldview and allowed for collaboration between diversified people.

AIISP stands as an active voice for exploring Indigenous issues and gives indigenous students a home-base on campus. Not supporting AIISP would mean dvesting in these students and that would NOT align with Cornell’s mission.

Coming from a rural area in New York, courses in AIISP help present me with world views I haven’t experienced before and although I may not be immediately comfortable with them, it still helps me regularly get out of my comfort zone and appreciate others’ opinions.

Without AIISP, how would I be able to know that my indigenous culture does, in fact, have a space in academia? How would I know that it is okay, even helpful, to bring Indigenous knowledge into my field? There is so much to learn from Indigenous peoples that is helpful in liberal arts and the sciences. Honestly, I attribute my academic success to AIISP and IIS courses. From a more personal standpoint, AIISP has allowed me to meet others with similar background and passions. AIISP programming is also amazing and unique. Man, there is sooo much that other departments could learn by incorporating Indigenous knowledge, especially in science, and it frustrates me!

The first class I’ve taken in AIIS was 3560: Indigenous Philosophies. I’ve never had another class like it. It taught me how much I don’t know and how much I rely on what I do know to inform my experience of the world. This class was like going back to square one of my worldview and challenging everything. It has changed my consumer habits, my relationships, my independent major proposal, my understanding of Indigenous culture and peoples and it has profoundly humbled me. I’m looking forward to the next class like this that I can find!

The courses in AIIS have helped me explore my identity as an individual and community member. I believe evaluating other frameworks and worldviews is vital in helping combat the social economic and environmental issues we face as a human race.

AIISP is a very important department to me. Classes in this department have helped me learn a lot about Indigenous perspectives on current issues as well as the histories of the area that Cornell is currently in. I think that these topics are extremely valuable not only to Indigenous students but to all students on Cornell’s campus. The department itself has given me a community to call home while being so far from where I lived before.

This course was one of the best courses I’ve taken at Cornell. It gave me a new perspective and really a glimpse into a different worldview. It’s important to have this course and courses like this are to continue to broaden student perspectives. Thank you to the professors teaching these courses and to the program for offering them.