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Two women stand beside lake Bde Maka Ska

On Purpose: Portrait of American Studies

The Department of American Studies is one of the oldest and most renowned departments of its kind in the country. Founded over 60 years ago, our early faculty and students found a freedom of expression in interdisciplinary work. Today, our faculty pursue a wide range of scholarly projects as they write award-winning books, receive teaching and public engagement awards, and garner acclaim both nationally and internationally.
Four faculty standing in front of a photo gallery of previous presidents of the University.

On Purpose: Portrait of Race, Indigeneity, Gender & Sexuality Studies

The Race, Indigeneity, Gender & Sexuality Studies Initiative (RIGS) was established in 2015 to support innovative research, teaching, community-building, and engagement for scholars and students addressing issues on these topics. RIGS is dedicated to bringing faculty and students together to pursue lines of inquiry that challenge systems of power and inequality, assert human dignity, and imagine social transformation.
Portrait of Hana Maruyama.

A PhD with a Purpose

"What happened during Japanese American incarceration is not coincidental at all—it's just how US settler colonialism has always and continues to function," says Hana Maruyama, whose grandmother and nearly 14,000 others of Japanese ancestry were displaced to Heart Mountain, the same place where the Apsáalooke American Indian Nation had been wrongfully relocated from years before. Maruyama is pursuing a PhD in American studies to further her research on the connections between Japanese American incarceration in the context of US settler colonialism.
Portrait of Nayelli Guerrero.

Nayelli Guerrero: Undeclared to Unstoppable

Choosing a major is hard. When you’re interested in a variety of subjects, picking just one can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. For Nayelli Guerrero, whose interests include medicine, writing, history, and law, it’s no wonder she started off her college career as an undecided major. Now a sophomore, she has become a top-notch student who actively participates in important work in the community.
Portrait of Katherine Beane.

Colonialism to Sovereignty: The Restoration of Bde Maka Ska

In 1829, Dakota leader Mahpiya Wicasta (Cloud Man) led a group of Dakota men on a hunt. The group became trapped in a blizzard for three days, buried under the snow. He later founded an agricultural community on the site, which he called Ḣeyate Otuŋwe, on the shores of a lake that Dakota people today call Bde Maka Ska. Nearly two centuries later, Cloud Man’s great-great grandchildren led the charge to reclaim the lake’s Dakota name, after having long been named after white secessionist John Caldwell Calhoun.” We don’t call it a change, we call it a restoration,” descendant Katherine Beane says when asked about the renaming of Lake Calhoun to Bde Maka Ska.