CNAIS building on CU Boulder Campus

Our Objectives

 To promote collaborative research focusing on both local and global Indigenous knowledge and experience

 To provide Native students and faculty an intellectual and social home at CU

 To foster wide-ranging NAIS projects that aim to open conversations both in Colorado and the world

The Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies (CNAIS) is a high-impact entity devoted to collaborative research projects, student recruitment and retention through fellowships and other means of support. CNAIS faculty and students also outreach to Indigenous communities, regional museums, historical societies, primary and secondary schools, and to the general public. From our inception, CNAIS aspired to provide Native students and faculty an intellectual and social home at the University of Colorado.  Our connections and vision are increasingly global.  Harnessing the power found at the confluence of local and global flows of Indigenous knowledge and experience, we aim to invigorate studies at the University of Colorado through fresh consideration of issues which humanity faces. Our goal is to attract the best students, faculty, and collaborators to CU in order to foster wide-ranging humanistic projects across and among these constituents with the aim of opening these conversations and endeavors to various publics both locally and globally.

When the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007) interconnectivity increased dramatically between indigenous scholars and groups via the internet and other factors. At CU, our NAIS faculty saw the opportunity to bring together our interdisciplinary fields and have a positive impact on research, students, and communities locally and globally.  Some areas that set us apart are:

  • Global Research & Connections. CNAIS faculty and affiliated programs have projects and connections extending from Sápmi (Sami territories) to Tahiti; we have a presence at the U.N., with a member of our Executive Board acting as legal counsel for the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • Indigenous Legal Scholars. Not only is CU Law one of the top law schools in the country, it is also home to the American Indian Law Program. We also are honored to welcome S. James Anaya, the new Dean of CU Law, as well a CNAIS Core faculty member. Among his many accomplishments, Dean Anaya was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for his work as the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples. We interface with legal scholars on a daily basis and have unparalleled access to legal studies resources through our collaborations with NARF, the NILL, and the American Indian Law Program at CU Law all situated within minutes of our office
  • Cross-disciplinary. We are humanities-centric, even while we engage in cross-disciplinary conversations and research as a major source of our innovative programs. A quick perusal of courses for the NAIS Certificates reveal the expertise available at CU and range from Art to Environmental Studies and Film Studies to Law. Take a look at the faculty of CNAIS
  • Local Community Building. We also aim to be concretely local, working closely with organizations in the City and County of Boulder. Our goal is to also build and improve on connections with historically-affiliated tribes and urban Indian communities in Colorado. At CU we work closely with student diversity groups, Admissions, and the Graduate School to help create community for our Native American and Indigenous students and faculty.