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American Indian studies may offer major


By Jacqueline Kuder
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, January 26, 2006
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American Indian studies may be offering a bachelor's degree as early as fall 2009 if the state approves funding for the program, university administrators said.

Currently, the program offers an undergraduate minor, a master of arts, a doctorate program and a combination master of arts and juris doctorate program, according to the American Indian studies Web site.

Gov. Janet Napolitano approved money for the UA program in her proposed budget last week, but only at half of the $3 million that was originally requested, and the state legislature still has to approve that amount, said Tsianina Lomawaima, interim director of American Indian studies.

The final state budget should be approved by May, Lomawaima said.

Lomawaima said there seems to be enough student interest to pursue an undergraduate bachelor's program. And even if the department is not able to offer a full undergraduate major, it hopes to strengthen its undergraduate offerings in other ways.

pullquote
There's certain themes in the (undergraduate) program that give students exposure, and prepare them better to work in the native community.

- Mary Jo
Tippeconnic Fox, AIS associate professor

pullquote

"This really needs to be part of a broader spectrum of undergraduate offerings, depending on the students needs," Lomawaima said. "It's not a be-all, end-all, but it is part of a larger initiative."

There seems to be little concern about the upcoming administration change and the four presidential candidates. Mary Jo Tippeconnic Fox, an associate professor in American Indian Studies, served on the presidential search committee and said she hopes the next UA president will be as supportive as current President Peter Likins, who will be retiring at the end of this year.

"The candidates all support diversity and meeting the needs of different groups in the community," Fox said. "They realize the value of serving the citizens of Arizona, including the Native Americans, and realize that our community is a big part of the state."

The program has a large focus on community, and plans to provide a broader range of courses within the undergraduate major, Fox said.

"Sometimes students aren't necessarily wanting to go to gradate programs," Fox said. "There's certain themes in the (undergraduate) program that give students exposure, and prepare them better to work in the native community."

Eva Bahnimptewa, a pre-physiology senior, said she is also concerned about giving back to the communities.

"It's important to educate people about the history of Native Americans, to show all different phases, from colonization to present," Bahnimptewa said. "Then you take that and educate other people about it."

Bahnimptewa said she would have double majored if the program had been offered to have a balance between culture and science.

Jesse Navarro, a political science sophomore, said the undergraduate major could offer a sense of self-identity, helping people know where they come from and who they are.

"I think it would keep the native students educated about other tribes and history," Navarro said. "It would keep them balanced on what they want to do in life, especially if they come from the reservations. Then they wouldn't get lost in what they want to do in the future and could help the communities they come from."



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