Center for American Indian Studies

The Center for American Indian Studies (CAIS) serves as a resource and advocate for American Indian and Alaska Native individuals and communities.

We also act as a resource for JCCC students, faculty, staff and community members who are trying to better their understanding of these cultures, societies and ways of life.

We welcome organizations academic institutes, Indian Nations, Indian communities and individuals (both Native and non-Native) who share our mission to seek to affect positive change in Indian country.

AIHREA Scholarship

The AIHREA scholarship is available to college students of any age, gender, socio-economic status, physical ability, and so forth who are seeking skills, a degree and/or a career working to improve the physical, mental, emotional and/or spiritual well-being of American Indians and Alaska Natives. While preference will be given to Native students, anyone, regardless of ethnicity, is welcome to apply.

The AIHREA scholarship can be used at any community college, tribal college, four-year college or university in the United States. Any academic major is eligible to apply. The scholarship money can be used for tuition, fees, books and required class materials.

AIHREA Student Summer Internship Program

The AIHREA Student Summer Internship Program  allows high-school, undergraduate, and graduate students the opportunity to work on various community–based research projects with American  Indian communities in Kansas and throughout the Plains region. During this 8-week paid internship, interns work with faculty and staff from both CAIS and the Center for American Indian Community Health at the University of Kansas Medical Center on research projects centering around American Indian health and education. 

All Nations Breath of Life Smoking Cessation Program

The All Nations Breath of Life (ANBL) smoking cessation program is a free, no-cost 12- week quit smoking program designed specifically for Native Americans. In-person group sessions, as well as individual telephone counseling sessions are used. Sessions explore the traditional uses and cultural meanings of tobacco to many Native cultures, societies, and individuals. ANBL focuses on information pertinent to Native participants by providing culturally-tailored  education materials to address physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual issues that come with quitting smoking.

Native 24/7

Native 24/7 is an exploratory research project that addresses cultural heritage and identity of American Indian and Alaska Native people. The hope is that from working directly with community members and using their words, stories and experiences, a more authentic and meaningful view of Native identity will emerge. The knowledge gained will aid in the creation of a scale that will be used in multiple studies in order to identify which communities are affected by particular health disparities so that we can better tailor our interventions for those communities.

The Annual AIHREA O.N.E. Health and Wellness Pow Wow

The Annual AIHREA “Our Nations’ Energies” Health and Wellness Pow Wow is currently one of the only health and wellness pow wows in the United States. It combines a Native dance contest and drum contest with free health screenings. It also includes American Indian arts and craft and Native food vendors. The pow wow is held the first Friday and Saturday of may at the JCCC GYM and Fieldhouse. 

The Samuel Sandoval, Navajo Code Talker Project

CAIS worked with Samuel Sandoval, a Navajo Code Talker from World War II, to develop a video documentary of his life and times as a code talker. The video documentary, Naz Bah Ei Bijei: The Heart of a Warrior complete and available at the JCCC Bookstore or through the Center for American Indian Studies for $10.

Building Reservation Youth through Education (BRYTE) College Prep and Study Skills Workshop

The BRYTE program is designed to encourage American Indian high school students to pursue higher education. Only about 68% of American Indian high school students currently graduate from high school; American Indians, along with African-Americans, have a 68% graduation rate, the lowest graduation rate of all racial and ethnic groups in the US. Additionally, only about 14% of Native high school students who do graduate high school and attempt higher education are academically prepared and considered “college ready.” Aside from being unprepared, there are cultural, social, and economic obstacles that Indians face that non-Native students generally do not, and this often makes attending a college or university appear to be an insurmountable task in the eyes of many Natives. As such, American Indians have the lowest college attendance and graduation rates in the US, with only 1% of undergraduate degrees and 0.6% of graduate degrees being awarded to Native students in an average year.

The BRYTE program covers some the basic topics and subjects Native students need to think about when looking at prospective colleges and universities, such as entrance requirements and ACT/SAT exams, and when applying to colleges and universities, such as letters of recommendation and admissions essays. Additionally, the BRYTE program covers topics that need to be thought about once a Native student is accepted into a college or university.