American Studies Major, B.A.–American Indian and Indigenous Studies Concentration

Department of American Studies

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204 Greenlaw Hall, CB# 3520

(919) 962-5481

Sharon Holland, Chair

Gabrielle Berlinger, Director of Undergraduate Studies

The American Indian and indigenous studies concentration provides a meaningful grounding in the histories, cultures, and contemporary experiences of peoples indigenous to North America, as well as their encounters with settler states. The curriculum increasingly provides opportunities for students to gain a hemispheric perspective that includes the histories, cultures, and contemporary experiences of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Students may petition the director of undergraduate studies to have courses not listed approved to fulfill major or minor requirements; such courses will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Department Programs



Graduate Programs

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the American studies program, students should be able to:

  • Apply critical skills of analysis to a variety of primary historical sources and/or cultural expressions
  • Exercise advanced writing skills that demonstrate clear articulation of ideas and effective expression of understanding
  • Assess the value of interdisciplinary learning by engaging with a variety of disciplinary perspectives on the study of America within their major elective courses
  • Interpret national traditions and ideals from different local, regional, transnational, and/or global situations and from diverse ideological and/or ethnic perspectives
  • Report satisfaction with the American studies major and its value for their postgraduate academic and professional careers


In addition to the program requirements, students must

  • attain a final cumulative GPA of at least 2.0
  • complete a minimum of 45 academic credit hours earned from UNC–Chapel Hill courses
  • take at least half of their major course requirements (courses and credit hours) at UNC–Chapel Hill
  • earn a minimum of 18 hours of C or better in the major core requirements (some majors require 21 hours).

For more information, please consult the degree requirements section of the catalog.

The concentration in American Indian and indigenous studies consists of nine courses. Courses listed more than once can be counted for only one category. At least one course must be at the 300 level or above.

Core Requirements
AMST/HIST 110Introduction to the Cultures and Histories of Native North America3
AMST/ANTH 203Approaches to American Indian Studies3
History (two courses, see list below)6
Law and Social Science (two courses, see list below)6
Language and Expressive Culture (two courses, see list below)6
Elective (one course from a category above)3
Total Hours27


AMST 337Beyond Red Power: American Indian Activism since 19003
AMST 339The Long 1960s in Native America3
AMST 341Digital Native America3
AMST 510Federal Indian Law and Policy3
AMST 511American Indians and American Law3
AMST/ANTH/HIST 234Native American Tribal Studies H3
AMST/HIST 231Native American History: The East3
AMST/HIST 233Native American History: The West3
AMST/HIST 235Native America in the 20th Century3
HIST 142Latin America under Colonial Rule3
HIST 145Latin American Indigenous Peoples3
HIST 240Introduction to Mexico: A Nation in Four Revolutions3
HIST 526History of the Andes3
HIST 529Mexico, 1750-1870: War, Independence, and Reforms: Citizenship and Conflict in a New Nation3
HIST/WGST 576The Ethnohistory of Native American Women3

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Law and Social Science

AMST 345Issues in the Indigenous World3
AMST 510Federal Indian Law and Policy3
AMST 511American Indians and American Law3
AMST/ANTH/HIST 234Native American Tribal Studies H3
FOLK/ANTH 230Native American Cultures3
ANTH 121Ancient Cities of the Americas3
ANTH 206American Indian Societies3
ANTH 231The Inca and Their Ancestors: The Archaeology of Andean South America3
ANTH 232Ancestral Maya Civilizations H3
ANTH 250Archaeology of North America H3
ANTH 252Archaeology of Food3
ANTH 406Native Writers3
ANTH 451Field School in North American Archaeology H6
ANTH 550Archaeology of the American South3
RELI 448Native and Christian: Indigenous Engagements with Christianity3

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Language and Expressive Culture

AMST 246Indigenous Storytelling: Oral, Written, and Visual Literatures of Native America3
AMST 336Native Americans in Film3
AMST 338Native American Novel3
AMST 340American Indian Art and Material Culture through Interdisciplinary Perspectives3
AMST 345Issues in the Indigenous World3
AMST 439Meaning and Makers: Indigenous Artists and the Marketplace3
ANTH 406Native Writers3
ARTH 160Introduction to the Art and Architecture of Pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica H3
CHER 101Elementary Cherokee Language I3
CHER 102Elementary Cherokee Language II3
CHER 203Intermediate Cherokee Language I3
CHER 204Intermediate Cherokee Language II3
LING 558Ancient Mayan Hieroglyphs3
LING 560Mesoamerican Languages and Linguistics3
LING 561Native Languages of the Americas3
MAYA 401Introduction to Yucatec Maya3
SPAN 344Latin@ American Cultural Topics3
SPAN 374Mesoamerica through Its Native Literatures3
SPAN 625Indigenous Literatures and Cultures of the Américas3
SPAN 683Linguistics of Indigenous Languages3

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Special Opportunities in American Studies

Honors in American Studies

The American studies major offers a two-course honors program: AMST 691H in the fall semester and AMST 692H in the spring semester. Students must propose their thesis and contract with a faculty advisor during the semester prior to the beginning of their senior year. For each semester of honors work, thesis students must submit a signed learning contract to the Department of American Studies during the registration period. During the two semesters devoted to honors work, students conduct individual research and prepare an honors thesis under the supervision of a faculty member. Students also will attend a weekly seminar at the discretion of the advisor. Students must maintain a 3.3 cumulative grade point average to be eligible. With the approval of the associate or the assistant dean for honors, students with a slightly lower average who have a reasonable expectation of meeting the requirement within one more semester may embark upon the honors thesis, understanding that if they do not attain the 3.3 standard they may continue the research project as independent study but are not eligible to graduate with honors or highest honors.

Experiential Education

The Department of American Studies offers a seminar on Service Learning in America (AMST 398) and offers credits for approved internship projects (AMST 493). Students have learned about American studies by serving the community in museums, schools, social agencies, and other cultural institutions. Many courses in the folklore program also offer experiential education credit through ethnographic training and fieldwork opportunities.

Study Abroad

The Department of American Studies encourages students to consider a semester or more of study abroad and has developed close relations with several American studies programs in different countries. Studying American experience in international contexts is an integral part of understanding the place and influence of the United States in the world. Student learning is enhanced by the perspectives gained by examining how American subjects are taught in universities around the globe as well as by encountering the international students who enroll in American studies courses in Chapel Hill. Study abroad offers students of folklore the opportunity to understand the rich vernacular and traditional cultures of other parts of the world from both a local and a comparative perspective. Students can receive American studies major credit for selected study abroad programs and are encouraged to make study abroad part of their academic plans. Study abroad courses can count toward the global American studies major or minor. Students interested in this experience should consult with the director of undergraduate studies or with the Study Abroad Office about international exchange programs sponsored by UNC–Chapel Hill. Furthermore, American studies majors and minors may apply for the Julia Preston Brumley Travel Scholarship, which is only available to American studies students, to help fund their study abroad.

Undergraduate Awards

The department awards Julia Preston Brumley Travel Scholarships to help fund international travel and study abroad. The Peter C. Baxter Memorial Prize is awarded annually to the outstanding senior majoring in American studies.

Undergraduate Research

The department offers credit for AMST 396 and FOLK 495. Majors can develop a two-semester honors thesis project (AMST 691H and AMST 692H) in consultation with an advisor. Students have received summer undergraduate research fellowships, earned research support and travel awards, and presented their work at the Annual Celebration of Undergraduate Research each spring.