The Native American Studies major program has three goals. One is to help students realize the objectives of an undergraduate major as defined at Cal Poly Humboldt, “to attain an understanding of and disposition toward a disciplined examination of human experience….” Toward this end, the curriculum helps students develop a critical perspective as well as cultural breadth through the study of Native American perspectives and world views. Most courses are taught from a Native American perspective, while the transdisciplinary approaches enable students to (1) acquire the concepts and methods of social science disciplines; (2) gain insight into the strengths and weaknesses of the disciplines themselves; and (3) acquire an understanding of a cultural heritage different from that of the dominant culture of the United States and thus a critical perspective on that culture.
The second goal is to provide Native American students with an opportunity to study their own cultural heritage as well as to acquire the capacity for a disciplined examination of that heritage and of their experience.
The third goal is to provide a foundation of knowledge, analytical skills, understanding and sensitivity for individuals who may wish to seek careers that relate to Native American communities. There are careers in the areas of federal Indian law, tribal governments, Native American education, cultural and natural resource management, and human services.
The curriculum is designed to help students attain these goals. The heritage and perspectives of Native Americans (sometimes in contrast or conflict with a dominant Euro-American culture) are reflected in all the courses, but are mainly emphasized in those which deal expressly with culture, history, philosophy, literature, and art. The contemporary issues which confront Native American communities are presented in courses dealing with natural resources, cultural resources, and law.
All students take an introductory core of classes and then may specialize in Law & Government, Language & Literature, Society & Culture, or Natural Resources & the Environment.