Evolving out of the Native Studies Program, the Department of Indigenous Learning was established by Lakehead University in 1994. It was intended to provide a foundation for the development and delivery of a post-secondary educational program for Aboriginal Peoples. As it was defined in 1994, the Department was to consist of an academic unit responsible for the development and delivery of university level course material and support services. In providing support services the Department was to assume responsibility for providing the support mechanisms necessary to allow students the opportunity to successfully complete a university program of their choice. As well, the Department of Indigenous Learning was also responsible for the Native Access Program which was intended to address the problem of accessibility for Aboriginal students.
In 1996 the Department of Indigenous Learning was redefined, and as it remains today, it is exclusively an academic unit responsible for the development and delivery of an academic program. Including both a Bachelor of Arts and an Honours Bachelor of Arts as well as a Certificate program, the Indigenous Learning academic program features some twenty-nine courses and approximately five shared courses with associated programs/departments.