American Indian Studies

American Indian Studies GIDP

American Indian Studies

Established by the Arizona Board of Regents: MA 1982; PhD 1996

The Graduate Interdisciplinary Program in American Indian Studies (AIS) at The University of Arizona seeks to develop, through research and scholarship, a wider scope of understanding of indigenous peoples of the Americas - their languages, culture, traditions, and sovereignty. AIS maintains vigorous and productive scholarly activities and fosters close and extensive interactions with American Indian nations and communities locally, state-wide, and nationally. The Program provides an opportunity for students and scholars to explore contemporary issues on Indian reservations, focusing on Indian issues from holistic points of view. AIS has strong ties with community outreach programs and promotes Indian self-determination as defined by Indian nations, tribes, and communities. The Program is responsible for providing graduate education, with shared emphasis in the areas of American Indian Law and Policy, Literature, Societies and Cultures, Natural Resources, and American Indian Education. The University of Arizona is the first educational institution in the country to offer doctorate and master's degrees in American Indian Studies. AIS is one of only three programs in the U.S. which offer a Doctor of Philosophy in American Indian Studies. AIS also offers a Master of Arts in American Indian Studies, a joint Juris Doctorate degree, and three graduate certificate programs.

Program Contacts

Benedict J. Colombi, Ph.D.

John Carbajal
Program Coordinator, Sr.

Program Address

American Indian Studies GIDP
The University of Arizona
1103 E. 2nd Street
Harvill Building, Rm. 218
P.O. Box 210076
Tucson, AZ 85721

Phone:   (520) 621-7108

Paloma Beamer
Community, Environment & Policy

Nolan Cabrera
Educational Policy Studies & Practice

Stephanie Carroll
Community Environment & Policy

Karletta Chief
Soil, Water, and Environmental Science

Benedict Colombi, Chair
American Indian Studies

Michael Crimmins
Soil, Water, and Environmental Science

Andrew Curley
School of Geography, Development and Environment

Amy Fatzinger
American Indian Studies

Daniel Ferguson
Institute of the Environment

Mary Jo Fox, Executive Committee
American Indian Studies

Francine Gachupin, Executive Committee
Family & Community Medicine

Jeremy Garcia
Teaching, Learning & Sociocultural Studies

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert
American Indian Studies

Reid Gomez, Executive Committee
Gender and Women's Studies

Patrisia Gonzales
Mexican American Studies

Heidi Harley

James C. Hopkins, Executive Committee
Indigenous Peoples Law & Policy Program

Jennifer Jenkins

Kelsey John, Executive Committee
Gender and Women's Studies

Michael Kotutwa Johnson
Native American Advancement, Initiatives and Research

Miriam Jorgensen
Udall Center

Gerardo U. Lopez
Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences

Bojan Louis

Andrea McComb Sanchez
Religion Studies & Classics

Barbara Mills

Sheilah Nicholas
Teaching, Learning & Sociocultural Studies

Tristan Reader
American Indian Studies

Valerie Shirley
Teaching, Learning & Sociocultural Studies

Jose Soto
School of Natural Resources & the Environment

Richard Stoffle
Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology

Melissa Tatum, Executive Committee

Ronald Trosper, Executive Committee
American Indian Studies

Aresta Tsosie-Paddock, Executive Committee
American Indian Studies

Natasha Warner

Robert A. Williams
Indigenous Peoples Law & Policy Program

Leisy Wyman
Teaching, Learning & Sociocultural Studies

Ofelia Zepeda

American Indian Studies Program Bylaws

Graduate Interdisciplinary Degree Program (AIS GIDP)



The name “American Indian Studies” at the University of Arizona refers to two distinct, but deeply interconnected and collaborative, administrative units. The American Indian Studies department (henceforth AIS department) is the tenure home and research center for a core group of faculty and offers an undergraduate Bachelor of Arts degree. The American Indian Studies GIDP (henceforth AIS GIDP) is an interdisciplinary team of faculty, which offers Masters and Ph.D. degrees.  The two administrative units work in close collaboration to further the mission of American Indian Studies as articulated below.


The AIS department reports to the Dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS). The AIS GIDP reports to the Dean of the Graduate College.


These bylaws govern the operations of the AIS GIDP. A separate document governs the operations of the AIS department.



American Indian Studies seeks to advance the understanding of languages, cultures, sovereignty, circumstances, and goals of American Indians/Alaska Natives.   We honor contemporary and ancestral American Indians/Alaska Natives and their wisdom.


The Graduate Interdisciplinary Degree Program (GIDP) provides interdisciplinary Master’s and Ph.D. education focused on the various sovereign American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) peoples.  The foci of the GIDP are: 1) The history, experiences, past and current cultures and conditions among AI/AN people; and 2) the needs, goals, and wellbeing of contemporary AI/AN communities, families, and individuals.


The AIS GIDP promotes scholarship, development of skills and expertise among students in education of and about, research on, and practical work with American Indians and Indian communities.  It develops Indian and non-Indian scholars able to explore issues from American Indian perspectives, to recognize traditional (Indigenous) knowledge systems, and to compare, contrast, and integrate traditional knowledge and mainstream scholarship.  The AIS GIDP seeks to aid the achievement of graduate students’ career- and life-goals in ways that also support the health and success of AI/AN communities.


The AIS GIDP serves as a major bridge between the American Indian Studies department and other units at the University of Arizona.  It also provides a major link between the University of Arizona and Indian communities in Arizona, in the Southwest, the United States, and North America.  The AIS GIDP also plays a major role in networking with Indigenous groups around the world and to educational institutions interested in Indian/Indigenous issues.


Core Values

Excellence:  Fostering intellectual growth and upholding rigorous standards in academic and professional work.  Integrity: Honest, ethical and accountable action, combined with preservation of academic freedom.  Respect:  Holding in high esteem both the panoramic distinctiveness of Native knowledge and the diversity and values of all individuals.


 Article 1. Governance


1)  The GIDP is subject to the general principles of governance that hold for all GIDPs at the University of Arizona as outlined at


2) The Head of the AIS department is appointed at the pleasure of the Dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences, The Chair of the AIS GIDP is appointed by the Dean of the Graduate College. The Chair serves a three-year term.


3) The AIS GIDP is governed by an executive committee, which is chaired by the Chair of the GIDP.


4) The Chair of the AIS GIDP reports to the Dean of the Graduate College through the Faculty Director of GIDPs.  The executive committee nominates the Chair to the Dean of the Graduate College, who appoints the individual.  


5) The Chair of the AIS GIDP acts in the role of Director of Graduate Studies (DGS), and is expected to support student development in ways that are similar to DGSs across the university.  The AIS GIDP Chair does so in cooperation with the Head of the AIS department, the Dean of SBS, and the Dean of the Graduate College. The two Deans, the AIS Head, and the AIS GIDP Chair will collaborate and inform on decisions of joint importance.  The Chair of the AIS GIDP consults with and works collaboratively alongside relevant AIS department leadership and staff (e.g., program coordinators, business managers), in areas such as student fellowships, teaching and research assignments, professional development, and the like.


6) The executive committee of the AIS GIDP consists of not less than 5 and no more than 10 members of the GIDP nominated by the Faculty of the GIDP and appointed by the faculty director of GIDPs acting for the Dean of Gradate College.  The GIDP executive committee advises the GIDP Chair.  Members will serve staggered three-year terms, and may succeed themselves. The duties of the GIDP executive committee include the oversight of graduate curriculum, admissions, fund raising, and student funding.



7) The executive committee will strive to govern by consensus but when a timely decision must be made a majority vote will be sufficient.


8) The elected President of the American Indian Studies Graduate Student Council (AISGSC) will serve in a non-voting advisory role at AIS GIDP executive committee meetings.  (The elected AISGSC Vice-President—or other officer selected by vote of the graduate students—will serve as the alternate voting representative if the AISGSC President is unavailable). Students will recuse themselves and be excused for matters involving individual students.


9) AIS is an interdisciplinary degree and the role of the GIPD Chair, Executive Committee, and Faculty is to meet regularly (at least annually) to ensure that (1) courses are provided in a manner that ensures that students have the opportunity to complete their degrees in a timely manner, in whatever area of concentration they may work, and (2) the AIS Master’s and Ph.D. student handbooks are kept up to date, subject to approval by the Graduate College.


Article 2 Faculty of American Indian Studies (AIS) GIDP


  1. Members of the faculty of American Indian Studies department are automatically members of the AIS GIDP faculty and are appointed to the GIDP by the faculty director of GIDPs upon the advice of the AIS GIDP Chair.  


  1. Criteria for membership will include evidence of AIS-relevant scholarly and research productivity, and one or more indicators of engagement with the life of the GIDP, such as:

•Teaching required, elective, cross-listed, or independent study AIS courses;

•Chairing or serving on Master’s or Ph. D. committees.

•Serving as PI or Co-PI on a grant submitted with the AIS department as the lead unit;

•Service on departmental (including ad hoc) committees;

•Other significant contributions to the AIS department and GIDP such as (but not limited to): developing funding for AIS graduate students or AIS departmental activities; developing or supervising internship placements for AIS graduate students; creating new AIS graduate courses or concentrations; or organizing or managing AIS outreach and partnership with tribal communities.


  1. Requests for appointment as an AIS GIDP faculty member should be submitted to the Chair of the AIS GIDP.  A letter of application and a current curriculum vitae (CV), are required.  Any current AIS faculty member may also nominate new members for the AIS GIDP faculty.  Such nominations will substitute for a candidate’s own letter of application, but must still be accompanied by a current CV. The AIS GIDP Chair will forward all such requests to current GIDP faculty for an advisory vote.  Final decisions about AIS GIDP faculty appointments and privileges will be made by the Faculty Director of GIDPs under the recommendation from the GIDP chair.


  1. Student graduate committees must be chaired by an AIS GIDP faculty member and have at least one other GIDP faculty member.


5)        The University of Arizona community, including its students, administrators, faculty, and staff, is required to abide by and uphold all elements of the University’s Guidelines For Research And Institutional Engagements With Native Nations and the Addendum: Additional Guidelines For Research And Institutional Engagements With International Indigenous Communities. "


6)        Evaluations of AIS GIDP faculty will be based on the performance criteria described at


7)  All AIS GIDP graduate students and faculty members will provide regular input to the GIDP Chair on accomplishments and opportunities relevant to AIS GIDP members, the university community, Native Nations, and alums and allies of the AIS department.


8)  All members of the AIS GIDP will participate in Academic Program Reviews, consistent with Arizona Board of Regents’ requirements, such that they are carried out in a timely manner.



Article 3.  Admissions and Evaluations of GIDP Students


1) Admissions, Financial Aid, and Awards for Graduate Students will be the responsibility of the GIDP Executive Committee.  Membership in the Executive committee is outlined in Article 1, section 5, above. The Committee will:

•Review all applicants to AIS GIDP degree programs; recommend admission of qualified candidates; suggest potential advisors; advise the Chair on financial aid appointments and disbursal; review applications and make recommendations to the faculty of qualified recipients of AIS-administered awards (such as Outstanding GTA & Outstanding Service to AIS).


2) TA assignments will be made by the AIS department head in consultation with the AIS GIDP Chair and the Director of Undergraduate Studies.


3) Annual evaluations of graduate students will be performed by either: 1) the advisor of any student who has not yet formed a doctoral committee, or 2) the doctoral committee of any student who has officially formed such a committee.  In either case, the annual review of graduate students will follow the procedures and policies outlined by the Graduate College and AIS GIDP Graduate Student Handbooks.  


Article 4: Bylaws


1) These bylaws shall be reviewed by the AIS GIDP on an annual basis and will be updated in a timely way upon request of the faculty director of GIDPs.


2) Amendment of the AIS GIDP Bylaws: a) at any time, any AIS GIDP faculty member may petition to amend the bylaws.  b) an amendment petition must be submitted in writing to all AIS GIDP faculty at least 5 working days prior to a vote being taken.  Votes may be by either email ballot or in face-to-face meetings.  The AIS GIDP chair and the Graduate College’s faculty director of GIDPs make the final decision about any such proposals


This version of the bylaws is dated September 23, 2016

Approved, September 23, 2016                                         AIS GIDP Chair    

Approved, October 4, 2016                                                Faculty Director of GIDPs