The Institute of Native American Studies at the University of Georgia was founded in 2004. It quickly established itself as one of the best programs in country. Today, we are a vibrant community of two dozen scholars, including six Native faculty, in addition to our graduate and undergraduate students. Institutes at UGA, just like departments, have three functions: teaching, programming and research.
Central to our mission are our undergraduate and graduate certificates in Native American Studies. When we were designing our programs, we decided to go with certificates rather than majors or degrees because we felt it gave our students greater flexibility. By getting a degree in a “traditional discipline” and a separate credential demonstrating their expertise in Native American Studies, undergraduates can go on to graduate studies in either their core discipline or in NAS. Graduate students can seek jobs in their core discipline or in NAS. We also have created a second graduate track in Indigenous Latin American, in cooperation with UGA’s Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute
From its inception, INAS has maintained a very robust programming agenda, bringing some of the most prominent and significant figures in Native American and Indigenous studies and in the Indigenous Americas, representing a wide variety of endeavors, to campus to speak. All INAS events are free and open to the public. Among those we have brought to campus are Heather Ahtone, Colin Calloway, Chris Eyre, Joy Harjo, Sterlin Harjo, LeAnne Howe (now a member of the INAS faculty), Thomas King, Lee Maracle, Simon Ortiz, Susan Power, Chad Smith, David Hurst Thomas, Gerald Vizenor, Joe Watkins, Rob Williams, Craig Womack, William Yellow Robe, and many others.
When LeAnne Howe joined the UGA faculty as the Eidson Chair of American Literature, she created an annual lecture entitled American Indian Returnings. These AIR Talks were conceived as a Native equivalent of the popular TED Talks. Held on the autumn equinox in September, these talks focus on scholars and are creative artists coming from tribal nations with historic connections to what is today the American Southeast. Thus by coming to UGA, they are returning to the region from which most of their ancestors were forcibly expelled. The first AIR Talk was given by Chickasaw scholar Dr. Jodi Byrd, the author of the award-winning monograph The Transit of Empire: Indigenous Critiques of Colonialism. In 2016, renowned Muscogee poet Joy Harjo was the AIR lecturer. In September 2017, it will be Cherokee scholar and novelist Daniel Justice.
Professor Howe’s AIR Talks are in keeping with INAS’s desire to be the place where cutting-edge ideas in Native American Studies are discussed first. We held a speaker series our first year of operation entitled “A Traditional Future,” bringing five Natives from various fields of endeavor to discuss what a “traditional future” (rather than past) looks like from each of their vantage points. We held the first conferences on both “American Indian Literary Nationalism” and “The Red Atlantic.” With funding from the U.S. Forest Service, we organized the first conference on tribal resource management and climate change, bringing together Native American Studies scholars, climate change scientists, tribal resource managers, and community intellectuals from tribal nations in the Southeast. The Native American and Indigenous Studies Association was formed in 2008 at a conference hosted by INAS at UGA.
Over the years, INAS has forged strong bonds with the Chinese Scholarship Council and with institutions in China. Every year, we sponsor a visiting Chinese scholar working on his or her dissertation research, primarily (though not exclusively) in Native American literature at UGA.
INAS supports the research of its faculty and graduate students (and occasionally, when possible and appropriate, undergraduates earning our undergraduate certificate). At the same time, a strength of the institute is our stress on the community-driven scholarship. We partner with tribal nations and other community organizations to do work that they need done. We invite you to click on the button to the right labeled “Scholarship of Engagement” to find out more. INAS always subsidizes this work through its own budget and applications for external grants. We are always looking for new partnerships with community organizations and other academic institutions. If you are interested, please email the INAS Director, Jace Weaver, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also on the right, is a button labeled “Director’s Letter.” This was Dr. Weaver’s original letter upon the founding of INAS. We also keep in touch with an annual Director’s letter, which is mailed in the fall. If you would like to be put on the mailing list, again, please email the Director. In the future, these letters will also be posted on this website.
We at INAS are moving forward, but we are also waiting for you. Let us move forward together.