Native American and Indigenous Studies at the University of Texas at Austin was founded in the fall of 2006 by James H. Cox (English), Loriene Roy (School of Information), Pauline T. Strong (Anthropology), Shannon Speed (Anthropology), and Gerald Torres (School of Law).
The Founding Envisioning Committee wrote in our founding documents that the main goal of the program would be to encourage an active intellectual and community engagement with Indigenous people and cultures. In 2006, we had approximately forty professors working with Native American and Indigenous communities and teaching Native American and Indigenous studies classes in nine departments and two professional schools. In just the ten years prior to 2006, graduate students had completed approximately 15 theses and 80 dissertations in the field. These professors and their students worked primarily in the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. We decided, therefore, that the hemispheric scope of faculty and student interest would define the program.
In an effort to build upon this active program of teaching and research, the Founding Envisioning Committee created a PhD and MA portfolio program that was approved by the administration in the fall of 2007. We established an undergraduate certificate program in 2009. The portfolio and certificate form the academic portion of the program, which is complemented by a speaker series, an annual spring celebration of our students, projects with student and community groups, and summer research fellowships for undergraduate and graduate students.