The American Indian Studies Paradigm is grounded in the experiences of American Indian nations, peoples, communities, and organizations from American Indian perspectives. Its principles are rooted in the concepts of sovereignty and indigenousness. It recognizes that disparate worldviews, literatures, knowledge systems, political structures, and languages characterize Indian societies within the United States but that they share commonalities that link them with other indigenous peoples of the world. It acknowledges that colonialism has impacted sovereignty, human rights, landholdings, religious freedom, health, welfare, and cultural integrity of Indian nations.
AIS focuses on the protection and strengthening of Indian sovereignty, self-determination, self-sufficiency, and human rights. AIS faculty must view their teaching, research, and service as a "sacred" responsibility to Indian nations undertaken for the sake of cultural survival. AIS provides a curriculum for the intellectual, ethical, and social development of students so they will acquire a comprehensive and practical understanding of U.S. Indian law and policy, colonization/decolonization, and nation building.
AIS privileges oral history and traditional knowledge while promoting collaborative community-based research methods that transcend disciplinary boundaries. It calls for partnerships with Indian nations, communities, and organizations that seek tangible and sensible solutions rooted in indigenous and non-indigenous knowledge to address problems facing American Indian nations. It acknowledges that Indian concepts of living in a balanced, harmonious, and reciprocal relationship with our Earth Mother have a place in dialogues concerning sustainable communities, climate change, environmental degradation, and justice. It trains future leaders and intellectuals to meet challenges of an ever-changing world.