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Why minor in Native American Studies?

WVU Native American Studies minors have applied their NAS education in a variety of successful professional roles, serving as educators, artists, researchers, interpreters at historical sites, engineers, legal consultants, in health care, and other meaningful careers. 

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Medicine Wheel

The Medicine Wheel

The iconic NAS medicine wheel was designed by the late WVU Art Professor Emeritus Urban Couch, a longstanding member of the NAS Committee.

The four points of the medicine wheel represent the cardinal directions and the four Great Powers of the wheel; the wheel represents universal harmony.

Professor Couch, former Chair of WVU’s Division of Art, was an award-winning visual artist, curator, and educator whose work is included in collections the the Art Museum of WVU and the Minneapolis Institute of Art, etc.

STATEMENT Reasserting our NAS Program's Commitment to Confront and Condemn Racism

We who serve on the Native American Studies Program Committee declare our solidarity with our Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) community members seeking justice. Our country is reckoning with racism, police brutality, and other societal factors that make BIPOC disproportionately vulnerable to violence, racial profiling, and discriminatory treatment.

Through education we seek to help eradicate racism—in its myriad forms—with a particular, though not exclusive, focus on justice for Native Americans, advocating for human and civil rights, safety and well-being. We are guided in our mission by the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Injustice  anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly." [2]

(statement adopted summer, 2020)   [1]  ;  , et al

[2] From Dr. King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” penned April 16, 1963 while in solitary confinement after his arrest for defying an Alabama injunction prohibiting demonstrations in Birmingham.


Click here for  information on the local mascot discussion & read the official statements on "Indian" sports mascots from the MOHEGAN TRIBE & STOCKBRIDGE MUNSEE MOHICAN TRIBE (or scroll to the bottom of this column)

Expert input on the psychological impact of "Indian" mascots from a respected Indigenous scholar:

2020 Native Mascots Fact Sheet, from Illumi Native*, Crystal Echohawk (Pawnee), Founder

“More Than A Word,” (A film focused on the history of the “R_dsk_ns” team and opposition to the mascot),  free to view online through July 2020

“The Time is Now: National Native Town Hall on Mascots, Native Rights, and Justice,” video archive from  Facebook live stream (might take a minute or two to load), July 10, 2020, specifically, panelists focus on the mascot issue from  20:00 – 51:00, but the whole Town Hall is excellent):

Topic-relevant Programs aired on “Native American Calling,” live call-in radio/internet program, carried on 70 public, community, and tribal radio stations in the U.S. and Canada, produced by Native-Operated Koahnic Broadcast Corp., Anchorage, AK:

“Mascots, Myths, Monuments, and Memory,” One segment of a 13-video archived symposium from the National Museum of the American Indian, held in collaboration with the National Museum of African American History and Culture, March 2018:

“Racist Stereotypes and Cultural Appropriation in American Sports” National Museum of the American Indian, February 2013.



“My Culture is Not a Costume [“we must move beyond the headdress symbol”…“’squaw’ is a word meaning vagina”],” Jayden Lim (Pomo), Tribal Youth Ambassador, California Indian Museum & Cultural Center:

Olympic gold medalist Billy Mills (Lakota) commentary on mascot names:

Additional SCHOLARLY RESEARCH Showing Support for Eliminating “Indian” Mascots:

"Of Warrior Chiefs and Indian Princesses: The Psychological Consequences of American Indian Mascots" by Dr. Stephanie Fryberg:

"The Harmful Psychological Effects of the Washington Football Mascot" by Dr. Michael A. Friedman (incl. extensive bibliography) content/uploads/2013/10/DrFriedmanReport.pdf

"Symbols of pride or prejudice? Examining the impact of Native American sports amscots on stereotype application," by Melissa Berkley, et al. and related articles

American Psychological Assoc.  Statement:

APA Resolution with Extensive Bibliography:

United South & Eastern Tribes (USET) resolution:   

Native Women Speak out on use of "Indian" Mascots as Connected to Issues of health, safety, equity, youth self-esteem & suicide:

“In Whose Honor?” An older film from 1997, but quite powerful in its overall message, centering around the activist story of University of Illinois graduate student Charlene Teters (Spokane) and the efforts leading up to the successful removal of the fictitious “Chief Illiniwek” mascot character at the University of Illinois:


*Reclaiming Native Truth: A Project to Dispel America’s Myths and Misconceptions:


Reclaiming Native Truth: Changing the Narrative About Native Americans, a guide for allies (see in particular, pg. 18, re: the results of information and education in attitude formation):


U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Statement on Native American Images and Nicknames as Sports Symbols:

Native People Speak out About Native Mascots:

The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI):  and...

NCAI video, “Proud to Be” :

#Proud to Be (not your mascot):


The Native American Rights Fund:


The Native American and Indigenous Studies Association:


National Indian Education Association:

from the NCAA's Champion Magazine, "Where Pride Meets Prejudice"

Native American Journalists Association

Extensive list of tribal resolutions and organizations' statements opposing "Indian" mascots:  

American Indian College Fund Solidarity Statement by AICF President & CEO Cheryl Crazy Bull (Sicangu Lakota):

University of Michigan Martin Luther King symposium speaker, Charlene Teters (Spokane Tribe), on why "Indian" sports mascots should be eliminated:

Global Sport Matters article with Dr. James Riding In (Pawnee), ASU Professor and editor editor of Wicazo Sa Review: A Journal of Native American Studies

American Indian Movement (AIM) -- National Coalition on Racism in Sorts and Media:

National Coalition Against Racism in Sports & Media:



“A Conversation with Native Americans on Race” YouTube video:

American Indian curriculum resources for teachers:

National Indian Youth Council Lessons: "Stereotypes, Prejudice & Discrimination: Native American Mascot Controversies & Sociological Perspectives"

Regarding the MORGANTOWN HIGH SCHOOL MASCOT ISSUE: Statements from Stockbridge-Munsee Community, Band of Mohican Indians (in Wisconsin) and Mohegan Tribe (in Connecticut) opposing "Indian" sports mascots...

pg 1 2 stockbridge munsee mohican statement on mascots

Mohegan tribe statement on mascots

Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican History

Mohegan Tribe Virtual Exhibit

Check out our Fall '23 class: SOVEREIGN TRIBAL NATIONS
***SAVE THE DATE: FALL 2023***

This Land Was Already Loved:

Native Leaders discuss their Nations' Connection to Place 

a West Virginia University Native American Studies Forum

Monday, Oct. 9, 2023: Indigenous People’s Day
WVU Native American Studies Peace Tree Ceremony
Forum Keynote: “Truth to Power: History from Indigenous Perspectives” by Chief Oren Lyons, Traditional Faithkeeper, Turtle Clan, Onondaga Nation,Council of Chiefs of the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy, Haudenosaunee 

Chief Oren Lyons Haudenosaunee
Chief Oren Lyons image source

Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023: all-day Forum
Leaders of Native Nations with ancestral and current connections to the land now known as West Virginia will share cultural and historical insights, along with outlooks for the future. registration link

Everyone Welcome! Location:
WVU Campus & Virtual
Free & Open to the Public
Registration required--watch for upcoming details !
wvu peace tree and plaque



Fall 2022-Spring 2023

...a special exhibition celebrating Indigenous Appalachian artists through a generous partnership with WVU Libraries and the WVU Humanities Center




Muscogee (Creek) Nation,
Spring 2022 NAS Guest of Honor
photo of Joy Harjo, US Poet Laureate

Ms. Harjo shared her poetry with an audience of more than 500 on Tues., April 5th.

Music was provided by award-winning flute player Cody Blackbird.
Read about Ms. Harjo’s role as a third term as Poet Laureate

MANY THANKS to our 2021 Native American Heritage Month Guest of Honor:

Mervyn Tano

President, International Institute for Indigenous Resource Management (a law & policy research institution) and adjunct faculty, Haskell Indian Nations University. Mr. Tano has decades of experience working with Indian tribes and organizations and has written and taught extensively on Indigenous peoples’ law and policy issues related to climate, risk, cultural resources, heritage management, environmental justice, food and agriculture, and science and technology policy. 

Links to Mr Tano’s 3-part lecture series:

1. Dealing with Climate Change: Everything is Connected, Tribal Approaches to Adaption:

Zoom presentation: Password: Climate2021

2. Reclaiming Our Spaces: Indigenizing the Museum of the Future:

Zoom Presentation: Password: Spaces2021

3. Boundary Organization: Universities, Indigenous Organizations, & Native Scientists as Nation Builders:

Zoom Presentation: Password: Boundary2021

Mr. Tano’s presentations were made possible by NAS with support from WVU’s Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and the Eberly College of Arts & Sciences’ Department of Public AdministrationLeadership Studies ProgramPublic History Program, and Department of Geology & Geography


Indigenous Land


WVU, with its statewide institutional presence, resides on land that includes ancestral territories of the Shawnee, Lenape (Delaware), Haudenosaunee (Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk, Tuscarora), Cherokee, and other Indigenous peoples.

In acknowledging this, we recognize and appreciate those Indigenous nations whose territories we are living on and working in. Indigenous peoples have been in the land currently known as West Virginia since time immemorial. It is important that we understand both the context that has brought our university community to reside on this land, and our place within this long history.

We also recognize that colonialism is a current ongoing process, and as scholars seeking truth and understanding, we need to be mindful of our present participation in this process.

2020 Native American

Heritage Month Events:

flier 100 years film with Chaney discussion

1) VIEW FILM "100 Years: One Woman's Fight for Justice" before attending the film discussion at 5:30pm on 11/19/20:



2) REGISTER in advance for the 11/19/20 5:30pm FILM DISCUSSION of "100 Years" (Zoom link and password will be emailed to you):

flier for Rumble film event

The "RUMBLE" music event took place on 11/15/2020.

flier for AMA film event

The AMA' film screening & discussion took place on 11/16/2020.

flier for virtual art tour of Urban Couch's works

The "Thunderstruck" art took place on 11/18/2020. For more background on artist Urban Couch, see this article from the Spring-Summer 2002 NAS Newsletter: 

Urban Couch bio sketch part 1

Urban Couch  bio sketch part 2


peace tree in a pandemic 2020

flier for 2019 peace tree video archives

2019 Peace Tree Lecture in 4 Parts:(archived videos)





2019 Peace Tree Ceremony Presentation (archived video)


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