The University of California Santa Barbara is situated on the traditional and never-ceded territory of the Chumash peoples, the sovereign original and ongoing stewards of these lands. Our Chumash communities tell us that this location has a long history as a center of intercultural exchange and higher learning within Chumash communities and in relation to Indigenous peoples throughout the region. The American Indian and Indigenous Studies (AIIS) Program at the University of California Santa Barbara honors this history by centering Chumash communities and incorporating Indigenous peoples and issues from around the world in the development of a rigorous, innovative, and intersectional American Indian and Indigenous Studies curriculum, research center, learning and living center, and a dynamic programming agenda that engages the campus and surrounding communities.
In centering Chumash communities, knowledge, and practices, the AIIS Program works to establish a relationship of accountability and reciprocity with Chumash peoples, to support Chumash sovereignty and cultural revitalization, and to provide an inviting and respectful space to study Chumash and California Indigenous histories, cultures, issues, arts, sciences and ways of knowing, and futures. In honoring the example of Chumash communities who sought and exchanged knowledge with other Indigenous peoples, our program creates a space for the study of Indigenous histories, cultures, issues, arts, sciences and ways of knowing, and futurities from around the world alongside an emphasis in Chumash, California Indigenous, American Indian, and North American Indigenous Studies. This symbiotic balance accentuates the richness and diversity of Indigenous communities represented at UCSB and in our global relationships. Through rigorous study, research, cultural revitalization, activism, arts, and community-building, we seek to again make this area a renowned center of Indigenous learning, regeneration, and resurgence.
American Indian students make up almost one percent of the total student body at UC Santa Barbara — representing the highest number of self-identified Native students at any University of California campus. All Students, actively involved in the on-campus American Indian & Indigenous organizations, are service-oriented, fun-loving, determined, and proud of their cultural identities. They represent tribes and reservations throughout the State of California, Native and Indigenous Peoples across the Americas, and Indigenous Peoples throughout the world.
Serving these students, and thereby enriching the cultural vibrancy of the whole campus community, is why the American Indian & Indigenous Collective (AIIC) exists. The AIIC was established in May 2013 and consists of Native American students, staff, faculty, alumni, retirees, community members, and non-Native allies. It is an umbrella organization with representation from other campus-affiliated American Indian and Indigenous organizations and communities.
The AIIC Academic Council is one such organization and was formed by members of AIIC in order to provide leadership on all academic matters related to American Indian and Indigenous Studies at UCSB by advocating for Native and Indigenous students’ needs and concerns. Members of the AIIC and the AIIC Academic Council continue to work tirelessly to heighten visibility and recognition of our communities, increase Native and Indigenous faculty members and establish an American Indian and Indigenous Studies department and major. Since its inception, the Academic Council has guided itself according to traditional Native American protocols and, in August 2016, it entered into a memorandum of understanding with the deans of Humanities and Fine Arts and Social Sciences, in the College of Letters and Sciences. In 2016 the UCSB AIIC Academic Council included three Native American graduate student members, three Native American undergraduate student members, and six faculty members. Today in 2022 the AIIC continues to honor the founding guidelines of the original MOU by advocating for the needs of our community through interconnected academic, cultural, student support, administrative personnel infrastructures, and by rigorously protecting and promoting Native protocols and practices. The 2021-22 AIIC Academic Council is composed of twenty-eight members representing three bands of the Chumash Peoples, Coastal Band of the Chumash Nation, Barbarino Band of Chumash Indians, and the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, and an equal balance of UCSB undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff, and off-campus community members.
The American Indian and Indigenous Studies currenlty only offers a Minor but we are in the process of adding a Major.