College Feature: William and Mary’s Newest Program of Study – Native Studies Minor

By: Alex Cole

Campus Sherpa Staff Writer, College of William and Mary

The recent debate over the potential Dakota Access Pipeline and its relation to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, the marginalization of Native Americans has gained increased attention. The escalating situation has made the College of William & Mary’s newest program of study even more timely; as of the Spring 2017 semester, William and Mary will offer a minor in Native Studies which can be pursued in conjunction with any major at the College.

Founded in 1693, William and Mary has a long and sometimes turbulent history of relations with Natives. Most notably, the Indian School operated at the College operated from the year of the school’s founding until the funding ran out at the onset of the American revolution. The school occupied the Brafferton building on Ancient Campus, which still exists today, and required Native boys to live at the College where they received lessons in Christianity amongst other subjects. Although some Natives went on to use their knowledge of English to protect their tribes from British manipulation, other boys attended the school against their will and many died from exposure to European disease.

Today, the Native Studies minor allows students to explore the identity of American and Polynesian natives as well as the public policy issues that they face. Courses which count towards the minor include topics such as various disciplines of anthropology, linguistics, art, literature, music, and history and may focus on specific global regions—a total of 16 classes related to the minor are currently being offered.

Interested in pursuing Native Studies in college to gain a better understanding of public policy issues or engage more deeply in Native American activism? William and Mary could be the school for you!


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