Native Dancers

"Education is your greatest weapon."

Chief Plenty Coups (Apsáalooke)

Our Department

The Department of Native American Studies was established to provide and advance quality education for and about American Indians of Montana, the region, and the nation. In fulfilling this mission, the Department is committed to meeting the changing needs of Montana's Indian tribes and all Montana citizens through excellence in teaching, research, and service.

In its academic programs, the Department provides concentrated study through the undergraduate minor, the online graduate certificate in Native American Studies, and the Master of Arts degree in Native American Studies.

Students in any major can also gain a multicultural perspective through NAS offerings in the University's core curriculum. Through its research and other creative efforts, the Department actively pursues interdisciplinary scholarship in the field of Native American Studies.

Cultural Crossroads– Past, Present, and Future

MSU is located near a major traditional crossroads for Plains and Plateau Native nations, a meeting place where these nations historically congregated to trade, celebrate and negotiate.

Today, that tradition is continued through MSU’s nationally recognized commitment to Native students- their education, communities and nations- through the exchange of ideas.

Acknowledgment of Traditional Custodians

We acknowledge and honor, with respect, the Indigenous custodians on whose traditional territories Montana State University now stands and whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day. We ask the spiritual ancestors to forgive our intrusion and humbly ask for their guidance.

A home Away from Home

Through our resources and academic support services for Native Students, we hope to empower students to make the most of their education here at MSU. The Department of NAS is committed to supporting opportunities for community building, collaborative scholarship and providing a home away from Home for both Native Students and their allies. Learn more about our resources for Native Students.

Indigenous students who attend MSU come from communities across the state of Montana and beyond. Rather than “going away” from their Home, families, and friends, we want our students to know that this, too, is home, where an MSU family awaits them and new friendships can be expected. We are committed to creating and advocating for an Indigenized and intertribal campus community in which students can discover and
contribute their unique creative gifts in a setting where Indigenous ways of knowing, being, and doing can flourish beside non-native traditions enriching both the Indigenous community and the higher education community.

Core Values– Rooted in Tradition

The NAS Department’s longstanding commitment to students, communities and nations- Native and non-native alike- has helped craft our Core Values. These foundational values cut across various traditions and guide the work throughout our department. In this home the values of many Native peoples of our region, the Northwestern Plains of North America, are the foundation of our relationships with one another. These have
been defined by our predecessors as the Departments Core Cultural Values. 

NAS Core Values Star

Our core cultural values represent the values of Home--values cherished by the Native communities we serve, but not comprehensive or exclusive to any single community. It is from these guiding cultural values--the foundation of our native home at MSU--that we welcome Indigenous students and walk with them as they pursue their educational goals. Like a family, NAS staff and faculty strive to accompany students through the educational  journey while supporting the needs of the whole person, including financial and social security, belonging,  relational connections, academic mentoring, and opportunities to grow by doing and, eventually, leading.