The Native American Institute (NAI) was authorized by the Michigan State University Board of Trustees in October 1981. The Native American Institute was established as a component of the Center of Urban Department in the Urban Affairs Program.
Through the work and vision of its founding director, George Cornell, Ph.D., the institute was established to help tribes, American Indian communities and Native organizations plan and prepare to meet the present and future needs of their constituents.
NAI has collaborated with tribes, American Indian communities and Native organizations on behalf of Michigan State University for decades. Through this time period, Michigan tribes achieved significant advances in their community and economic development. The Native American Institute has worked to provide assistance and add value to these community development efforts wherever possible.
The mission of the Native American Institute is to produce and further scholarship and programming for the benefit of tribes, American Indian communities and Native organizations. NAI supports campus and community collaboration and provides opportunities for faculty, staff, students and the public to learn about issues facing American Indians and Indigenous peoples.
Through these efforts, NAI promotes sovereignty, self-determination, cultures, languages, traditional knowledge, capacity building, leadership and well-being as defined by tribes, American Indian communities and Native organizations.
The core values of the NAI are to:
- Collaborate with tribes, American Indian communities and Native organizations in an honest, transparent and respectful manner.
- Honor Native cultures, traditions, knowledge, languages and practices.
- Support scholarship, programming and research with practical applications in American Indian and Indigenous contexts.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
The Native American Institute was awarded a Gold DEI Badge in May 2021 recognizing its diversity, equity and inclusion efforts during the 2019-2020 academic year.
The award was given by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.