Why Study NAS at ECU?

Native American study is more than a mirror image of the study of the United States; it is also part of a shared past. The past and present is a complex story, made up of many interwoven lives and experiences. We need to draw on multiple perspectives and listen to many voices to get a well-rounded and richly textured picture. Clearly, the study of Native Americans provides us with a much fuller understanding of our shared past and present and alternative perspectives of thinking. Recently scholars, tribal leaders, and others have expressed concern that not only are non-Indians unfamiliar with Indian history, but many Native Americans are unaware of their important heritage Within the last thirty years more and more colleges and universities are offering programs in native studies. Few places in the United States is it more important to offer a variety of courses relating to native studies than the state of Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Indian population is more varied than any other state, and ranks second only to California in total Indian population. Thirty-eight federally recognized tribes reside in Oklahoma and the American Indian population in the state is upwards of 392,000. Much of that population is in the area served by the university. Over the last several years, the East Central University (ECU) Indian population has ranged close to twenty percent of the total student body. Currently thirty-eight full and part time faculty self identify as Indian. Thus, the Native Studies program fills an position in the ECU curriculum. It serves the ECU community by allowing Indian and non-Indian students the opportunity to supplement their education with courses in Native Studies and also fosters an essential link between the University and the diverse Indian communities within its area of responsibility. In essence, it prepare students who expect to work for or with native communities or peoples to understand those communities or individuals in a broad cultural, historical, social, and political context