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The Center for Native American Studies offers a holistic curriculum rooted in Native American themes that challenges students to think critically and communicate effectively about Indigenous issues with emphasis on Great Lakes Indigenous perspectives; stimulates further respectful inquiry about Indigenous people; and provides active learning and service learning opportunities that strengthen student engagement, interaction, and reciprocity with Indigenous communities.

There are five primary themes within Native American Studies at Northern Michigan University: culture, history and language; traditional ecological knowledge; education, families and communities; governance and sovereignty with the theme of identity being connected to all previous four listed themes.