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Goals and Objectives


Careful consideration has been given to the program-building and accessibility components of CPNAIS. With support from the Curriculum Committee for American Indian Studies at Five Colleges, Inc., the academic communities at UMass and the four colleges have been able to benefit from

    • A Needs and Assessments Forum attended by Native people from Massachusetts and Connecticut (1994);
    • Advisors from Dartmouth and Harvard on the academic and support aspects of Native Studies and the well-being of Native students (1995);
    • Native lecturers to ANT 370 who advised the Five Colleges committee on the responsibilities of Native Studies (1996 and 1997).
    • Representatives from the Five Colleges attending Dartmouth College for the Native American Studies conference marking its 25th Anniversary to learn more about the many structural and philosophical issues of implementing a Native American Studies program (April 1997).

The principal goal of CPNAIS is to provide students pursuing a Certificate with a structured understanding of historical and contemporary issues affecting the Western Hemisphere's First Nations. Students will learn how these issues are embedded in the long histories of Indigenous peoples and how they have been affected by more recent interactions with peoples from Europe and Africa. In particular, CPNAIS at UMass will develop a greater appreciation for the woodlands and maritime cultures of Indigenous peoples of eastern North America. Among the objectives of CPNAIS are the following:

    1. The Curriculum

CPNAIS recognizes that students perceive the integrity of a Native American course curriculum based in part upon the depth and sensitivity of instruction.

CPNAIS plans to pursue the institution of a course, "Introduction to Native American Studies," which will provide students with concepts, methods, and the kind of terminology essential to the discipline.

2. Students

Within its academic, administrative and curricular responsibilities, CPNAIS will advocate among University recruitment, counseling, and support service staffs an environment conducive to the academic well-being of Native students, and on behalf of all students pursuing the Certificate.

3. Outreach

CPNAIS encourages educating students about contemporary Native communities with the hope that at some point during their studies they can represent themselves, the Program, and the University to Native visitors to the Five Colleges, and to Native communities and individuals off-campus. Native students will gain an appreciation for regional Native communities with which they may not be familiar. The advisory process and the Director will assist students in determining their readiness to pursue a project of interaction with a community approving this interaction.

4. Visiting Elders

A continuing trend in Native American/American Indian Studies programs at other than tribal colleges is giving priority to aboriginal/indigenous knowledge. Programs and departments like those at D-Q University of the University of California at Davis and Trent University in Ontario offer representative models: D-Q University offered in 1997 five-week internships to non-academically affiliated Native persons (two each from North and South America); Trent involves elders from local Ojibwe and Iroquois communities in the lives of students. The UMass CPNAIS, with assistance from the Curriculum Committee at Five Colleges, Inc., will study ways to bring about some role for elders within the five colleges over a period of one to two weeks. Each elder would participate in CPNAIS courses; be available for students; interact with and advise the Advisory Board and the Director as well as cooperating faculty and their departments; make a presentation at a public forum on a subject of expertise. The elder will also be encouraged to pursue individual research or cultural projects.

CPNAIS acknowledges former UMass visiting lecturer in History, Thomas Doughton (Nipmuc), for contributing observations about this kind of possibility.

5. Native Faculty Recruitment

The Director and members of the Advisory Board will continue to encourage hiring searches for Native faculty for fulltime tenure-track appointments.

The reality in Indian Country is that the number of Native faculty in higher education, especially those possessing terminal degrees, is very small. UMass must compete for prospective faculty more attracted to institutions in Western states. The Dartmouth conference recognized the dire need for Native faculty, and expressed a hope for more Native people in the Doctoral "pipeline." Rayna Green (Cherokee), a former UMass English department professor currently working at the Smithsonian Institution, observed in 1992 that a growing trend of Native people in graduate schools is toward PhDs in Cultural Anthropology, English, Comparative Literatures, Political Science, and History.

UMass would certainly like to see Native faculty recruited and hired for departments of History, Biology, Art History, Anthropology, Music, Linguistics, and other disciplines.