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Experience the richness of Indigenous knowledge and cultures

The program, designed for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, allows you to explore the intellectual traditions of many Indigenous peoples.

Engage with innovative approaches to learning and scholarship through experiential educational opportunities.

Program Overview

Since its inception, the Indigenous Studies Program (ISP) incorporates a very unique teaching structure of Indigenous knowledge which involves many Native peoples and Elders. This unique perspective assists all students from various cultures and background in learning about the history and lives of Aboriginal people within an Indigenous perspective. The faculty and staff who works within the Indigenous Studies Program are dedicated to educating Indigenous perspectives and issues, as well the success of our students.

Learn more about our Program offerings

Our Program and presence on the McMaster campus continues to grow.

In June 2011, the President of McMaster, Dr. Patrick Deane, announced a very prestigious Indigenous Knowledge Chair for the university. This Chair was donated by McMaster Alumnus, Paul R. MacPherson. We are very excited at this prospect of working with this Chair who undoubtedly will continue to raise awareness of the important and vital role Indigenous Peoples play both intellectually and practically. In addition, the President also announced a new space for Indigenous Studies, which will be located in a new building, set for construction the summer of 2013. This will mean more space for students and services for students of Indigenous Studies.

We hope that you will come and experience all of the rich and diverse forms of learning that we have to offer!

Learn more about our Program offerings

Our Three Main Objectives

  • To recruit and assist Indigenous students in obtaining a degree in their area of interest.
  • To increase awareness of Indigenous culture and issues.
  • To work collaboratively with Aboriginal communities.


Chief Longboat's Vision

The Indigenous Studies Program supported Chief Longboat's vision and has initiated the development and accreditation of numerous courses focused on supporting and teaching language, culture and history with an emphasis on Haudenosaunee people. ISP offers a three-year Combined Bachelor of Arts Degree in Indigenous Studies and Another Subject. Students have their choice of combining Indigenous Studies with a subject area from either Humanities or Social Sciences. However, students in other disciplines may take Indigenous Studies as a Minor or as electives.

Why Take Indigenous Studies?

Students will expand their knowledge and understanding of Indigenous cultures, while developing professional skills to work with Aboriginal communities.

  • Interdisciplinary approach
  • Knowledge and experience of Indigenous instructors
  • Innovative Indigenous approaches to learning and scholarship


Career Opportunities

In the Indigenous Studies Program, students learn about Indigenous cultures, spirituality, social systems, history, language, and contemporary issues. Students develop a broad interdisciplinary knowledge base, which can lead to careers in the fields of:

  • Education
  • Advocacy & Social Services
  • Business
  • Law
  • Policy & Governance
  • Medicine & Health Care
  • Graduate Studies

Emphasis on Community-directed Course Content

All of our courses emphasize the importance of community perspectives in delivering relevant and engaging education. ISP is proud to offer over 25 courses in the area of indigenous knowledge and culture, including these three newly developed ones:

Program History

In an attempt to raise awareness about Indigenous issues the first Drum Beat conference was organized in 1989.

This conference was supported by both the Six Nations community and McMaster University, welcoming Indigenous people from across North America.

The three day event, co-hosted by the Six Nations Confederacy, marked the beginning of new possibilities for Six Nations and McMaster to increase the presence of Ogwehoweh people on campus. As a student, Dawn Martin-Hill made requests for support to develop courses and to address the needs of Indigenous students at McMaster. Dr. Peter George, Dr. Harvey Feit and Chief Harvey Longboat responded to the call. This resulted in the development of the President's Committee on Native Students. Shortly after, the McMaster First Nations Students Association (MFNSA) was established, with founding President, Marriotte McGregor. In 1992, McMaster University's Indigenous Studies Program was established.

McMaster University has heeded Chief Harvey Longboat's call to support "the Confederacy and raise visibility in both the community and the university which will help all of us"; this has been our guiding compass for the past two decades. The program is a main focal point for McMaster's enhanced commitment to, and support of, Indigenous students.

The Indigenous Studies Logo

This logo represents the overall purpose of the Indigenous Studies Program at McMaster University.  First Nations artist/designer, Arnold A. Jacobs interprets the logo that he has created for the Program:  The overall component of the design is circular to represent unity and a coming together of First Nations.  The eagle, a spiritual guardian and a symbol of strength and courage, is positioned over a native head that is looking dramatically upward to the future. The native wears a feather, not for decoration, but as a symbol for lifting the human spirit.  Holding the feather in place is the sacred circle of life, divided into four cycles that affect our lives; they are the four directions, four winds, four seasons, and four colours.  The lightning ash represents the Power of the Creator of all things. The wings are given this power to lift the eagle to great heights. This power represents the uplifting spirit to the student for higher achievement.