Native American & Indigenous Studies


Native American & Indigenous Studies @ Penn

The Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS) Initiative at Penn, directed by Dr. Margaret Bruchac, focuses on the cultures and histories of Native Americans, First Nations, and other Indigenous peoples. The field of NAIS, by definition, is culturally, ethnically, and intellectually diverse. In the northern and southern hemispheres of the Americas, there are more than 600 Indigenous nations. Globally, NAIS scholarship includes research with and among Indigenous communities in diverse worldwide locales (e.g., Australian Aboriginals, New Zealand Maoris, Caribbean peoples, etc.). 

Faculty at the University of Pennsylvania offer a wide variety of NAIS courses that tackle issues such as cross-cultural historical encounters, heritage landscapes, language recovery, cultural performance, law and sovereignty, museum anthropology, archaeology, decolonizing methods, and more. NAIS courses often illuminate current issues, locally and globally, using methods and theories drawn among and between different disciplines. Many NAIS courses are cross-listed in more than one department (e.g., Anthropology, History, Religion). The diverse cultural, political, epistemological, and methodological insights gained in NAIS courses can help students better understand cross-cultural and trans-national histories in different world settings, past and present.  

Graduate and undergraduate students in NAIS can also take advantage of multiple opportunities for academic study, collaborative research, and field work projects from multiple disciplinary perspectives. Research opportunities include laboratory studies, fieldwork, museum exhibition projects, and more, conducted in collaboration with academic institutes and faculty at the University, or with Indigenous communities in multiple locales.


NAIS Faculty in the Department of Anthropology

Dr. Margaret M. Bruchac, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Coordinator of Native American and Indigenous Studies.

Dr. Clark Erickson, Professor of Anthropology.

Dr. Megan Kassabaum, Assistant Professor of Anthropology.

Dr. Richard M. Leventhal, Professor of Anthropology, Director of the Penn Cultural Heritage Center.


NAIS Graduate Students

Joseph Aguilar, Christopher Green, Stephanie Mach, and Lise Puyo 


NAIS Undergraduate Students

Beatrice Field, Emilie Gocke, Abigail Graham, Sarah Parkinson, Ashley Terry, Danielle Tiger, Maria Alejandra Trumble


For further information, see:

Related NAIS Initiatives at Penn: