B.A. created in American Indian Studies
Approval to be voted on by Board of Trustees
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The SF State Academic Senate unanimously approved a proposal to establish a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Indian Studies (AIS) on Nov. 1, but the curriculum will not be implemented until at least 2007.

“This is something that is long overdue,” said AIS Chair Roberto Rivera. “I am 100 percent behind this effort.”

Approval for the B.A. proposal will be voted on by the California State University Board of Trustees in March 2006. If accepted, professors will determine exact requirements of the major by Fall 2007.

“The idea came from all of the faculty of the department…who feel that the field of American Indian Studies, the support of students and our diverse communities, and our professional development warrant a major program,” said Joanne Barker, an AIS assistant professor.

Barker, who lists her tribal affiliations as Lenni-Lenape, took the lead in writing the proposal that will be voted on by the CSU Board of Trustees in March.

“(Barker) worked tirelessly on this project, and while we supported and assisted, she did the really difficult work,” said AIS Assistant Professor Andrew Jolivétte, a Creole-Indian of Atakapa, Opelousa, Choctaw and Cherokee descent.

“AIS is in a very strong place right now, with a supportive chair, three full time tenure-track American Indian faculty, and a number of outstanding lecturers and affiliate faculty,” said Barker.

The AIS department was founded in 1969 by a group of activists and American Indian students, and currently offers a minor in American Indian studies.

According to Barker, a survey was conducted amongst all the students enrolled in AIS courses last fall, and “about 345 of 365 said they supported the department’s plan to develop a major.”

SF State’s Web site lists American Indian undergraduate enrollment as 1 percent, or 187 students.

“This is a much needed addition not only to the College of Ethnic Studies curriculum but to the university… it is important, not only symbolically, ethically, but intellectually for students, faculty, and the greater community,” said Jolivétte.

Support for an AIS degree has been strong at SF State, according to Barker. The entire College Chair’s Council attended the Academic Senate meeting where the B.A. proposal was presented, and faculty across the college and campus wrote letters of support to the dean and to the Academic Senate, according to Barker.

“At the end of two years, it is my hope that we’re going to have a major, a great major,” said Rivera, who is pleased that the proposal is moving on. “(American Indian) culture and the people are very much alive. It would really benefit us all if we knew much more about this wonderful culture.”

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