Skip to main content


Information on this website is posted for historical reference only. Please visit the Office of the Registrar for current requirements.

Native American Studies Program

7. First-Year Seminars in Native American Studies

Consult special listings

8. Perspectives in Native American Studies

08F, 09F: 10

The growing field of Native American Studies is concerned with topics and discourse found in a range of academic disciplines. However, the field itself is not defined by or limited to one discrete area of study. This course provides an overview of the diverse ways that Native American Studies engages the relevant intellectual and cultural questions of tribal expression, identity, traditional thought, continuity, and sovereignty. We will explore readings in the areas of: literature and literary theory, philosophy, visual arts, anthropology, philosophy of history, cultural production and criticism, and political discourse. The unifying purpose of the course is to gain familiarity with the languages of several disciplines, and to examine how their discourses are used to promote or inhibit the ongoing project of colonialism.

Open to all classes. Dist: SOC; WCult: CI. Palmer.

10. Peoples and Cultures of Native North America (Identical to Anthropology 4)

09W: 12, 09X: 2A 10W: 2

The course provides an introduction to the peoples and cultures of Native North America. Several indigenous groups (nations) from different “culture areas” are highlighted to emphasize particular forms of economy, social organization, and spirituality. The course focuses on the more traditional American Indian cultures that existed before the establishment of Western domination, as well as on the more recent native culture history and modern-day economic, sociopolitical and cultural continuity, change, and revitalization. The readings include works by anthropologists (Native and non-Native), American Indian academic and tribal historians and autobiographies. Lectures are combined with films and slides.

Open to all classes. Dist: SOC; WCult: NW. Kan.

11. Ancient Native Americans (Identical to Anthropology 11)

Not offered in the period from 08F through 10S

This course provides an introduction to the pre-Columbian societies of North America. Discussion begins with a consideration of the wider social context of archaeological views of Native Americans and how these have changed over time. We briefly review the enormous diversity in language; economic, social, and political organization; and religion of Native American societies at the time of European contact. The course moves back in time to examine the populating of the Americas and related controversies. We then concentrate on the subsequent development of diverse pre-Columbian societies that included hunter-gatherer bands in the Great Basin, the Arctic, and the sub-Arctic; Northwest Coast chiefdoms; agricultural societies of the Southwest, such as Chaco Canyon and the desert Hohokam; and the mound-building societies of the Eastern Woodlands.

Open to all classes. Dist: SOC; WCult: NW. Nichols.

14. The Invasion of America: American Indian History Pre-Contact to 1830 (Identical to History 14)

08F, 09F: 10

This course surveys the history of the American Indians from contact with Europeans to c. 1830. It provides an overview of the major themes and trends in Indian history, supplemented by case studies from a number of regions and readings that illuminate particular issues. The overall context of the course is the conflict generated by the colonial drive of European nations and the U.S. and their citizens, but the primary focus is the historical experience of Indian peoples and their struggles to retain their cultures and autonomy while adapting to great changes in the conditions of their lives.

Open to all classes. Dist: SOC; WCult: NW. Calloway.

15. American Indian History: 1830 to Present (Identical to History 15)

09S, 10S: 10

This course surveys the history of the American Indians from the year 1830 to the present day. It provides an overview of the major themes and trends in Indian history, supplemented by case studies from a number of regions and readings that illuminate particular issues. The overall context of the course is the expansion of the U.S., the ‘Indian policies’ adopted by the U.S. government, but the primary focus is the historical experience of Indian peoples and their struggles to retain their cultures and autonomy while adapting to great changes in the conditions of their lives.

Open to all classes. Dist: SOC; WCult: NW. Calloway.

22. Native American Lives

09W: 2

In the past, American Indian history was usually taught through the lens of the dominant culture, while ignoring the story that Indian people have presented in their own words. This course will examine some key issues in American Indian history and culture by reading the biographies and autobiographies of individual American Indians. These life stories will help us understand the historical forces that affected their world, and how they shaped their own lives in response. In addition to reading and discussing the assigned texts, students will answer essay questions about the readings, and identify an individual whose life will serve as the subject of a biographical study research paper of 10-15 pages.

Open to all classes. Dist: SOC; WCult: CI. Palmer.

25. Indian Country Today

08F: 11 09F: 10A

This course introduces students to Indian Country by way of exploring contemporary issues of importance to American Indians. Students will begin by examining briefly the concept of “tribal sovereignty” and the role it has, and continues to have, in driving tribal politics. Students will then broaden their understanding of Indian Country by exploring practical issues such as: American Indian political activism, repatriation of sacred objects and remains, American Indian water rights, hunting and fishing rights, gaming in Indian Country, education, and contemporary American Indian arts.

Open to all classes. Dist: SOC; WCult: NW. Duthu (08F), Turner (09F).

28. Native Americans: Film and Television (Identical to Film Studies 42)

Not offered in the period from 08F through 10S

This course surveys the historical and contemporary imagining of American Indian people and assesses the impact on the Native people of America. Stereotyping of American Indians in Hollywood film and television programming has created a symbolic view that has dominated American pop culture—a view that continues today. A lack of cultural understanding of Indian people has perpetuated an unrealistic portrayal. Only by reviewing the reality of history—rather than the myth—can individual students have a view of Native American societies and people. This course looks at how symbolic imagining of American Indians in film and television has produced negative consequences, and how important it is to overcome such stereotypes, to insure a more realistic portrayal of Indian people in the future.

Dist: ART; WCult: W. Goeman.

30. Special Topics in Native American Studies

08F: 12

In 08F, Issues in Alaska Native Education. Provides students with an analysis of the traditional preparation of Alaska Natives for adult roles in society and contrasts this with Western education. Students examine the assumptions of both systems and assess the effectiveness of the current educational programs, policies, and institutions. The roles of teachers and parents, and the relationship between schools and communities are considered. This course includes learning Alaska Studies in general.

Open to all classes. Dist: SOC. Ongtooguk (Gordon Russell Visiting Professor).

34. Native American Oral Traditional Literature (Identical to English 60, section 3)

09W: 10

Native American oral literatures constitute a little-known but rich and complex dimension of the American literary heritage. This course will examine the range of oral genres in several tribes. Since scholars from around the world are studying oral literatures as sources of information about the nature of human creativity, the course will involve examining major theoretical approaches to oral texts.

Dist: LIT; WCult: NW. Palmer.

35. Native American Literature (Identical to English 45)

09S, 10S: 11

Published Native American writing has always incorporated a cross-cultural perspective that mediates among traditions. The novels, short stories, and essays that constitute the Native American contribution to the American literary tradition reveal the literary potential of diverse aesthetic traditions. This course will study representative authors with particular emphasis on contemporary writers.

Open to all classes. Dist: LIT; WCult: NW. Goeman (09S), the staff (10S).

36. Indigenous Nationalism: Native Rights and Sovereignty (Identical to Government 60)

09W, 09F: 12

This course focuses on the legal and political relationship between the indigenous peoples of Canada, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand and their respective colonial governments. Students will examine contemporary indigenous demands for self-government, especially territorial claims, within the context of the legislative and political practices of their colonial governments. The course will begin with an examination of the notion of Aboriginal self-government in Canada and develop it in light of the policy recommendations found in the report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1996). Using the Canadian experience as a benchmark, students will then compare these developments to indigenous peoples’ experiences in the United States, Australia and New Zealand. An important theme of the course will be to develop an international approach to the issue of indigenous rights and to explore how colonial governments are responding to indigenous demands for justice.

Not open to first-year students without permission of instructor. Dist: SOC or INT; WCult: NW. Turner.

37. Alaska: American Dreams and Native Realities (Identical to Anthropology 12, section 2) (pending faculty approval)

09S: 12 10S: 2

Since the time the United States “purchased” Alaska from Russia, this land has been seen by many as the “last frontier”—a place where tough and adventurous Euro-Americans could strike it rich or get away from the negative consequences of civilized living. Using anthropological and historical works as well as fiction, film and other media, this class explores the mythology surrounding the “land of the midnight sun.” This myth of the last frontier—in its development—driven as well as conservationist versions—is also contrasted with the ways Native Alaskans have viewed and lived on their land.

Open to all classes. Kan.

39. American Indian Tribal Law and Governance (pending faculty approval)

10S: 10A

This course will examine the roles of tribal governments in the formation of internal and external policies affecting the lives of Native American people, the basis for their political power historically and in contemporary society, and their structure and functions. Particularly, the course will focus on the cultural and legal dilemmas posed by tribal governments: how they maintain cultural legitimacy in the face of colonial cultural imposition, how they articulate retained rights in a system of shared sovereignty, and the problems Native Americans face in building stronger political systems as they struggle to maintain and retain sovereignty.

Open to all students. Duthu.

40. Introductory Native American Language (Identical to Linguistics 40)

Not offered in the period from 08F through 10S

This language course is intended to introduce beginning students to the fundamentals of the various families of Indian languages of North America. This panoramic course may serve as an introduction to the study of a specific Indian language, to the study of the relationship between language and culture, or to the study of linguistics itself. In addition it will provide a general description of the phonology, morphology, syntax, semantic domains, and grammar of Indian languages. Each student will choose one out of twelve grammatical sketches of particular Indian languages for closer analysis. Furthermore, we shall examine the history of the study of Indian languages and their classification by family, the dynamics of linguistic contact, discourse analysis, linguistic anthropology, and the issues of language extinction and preservation.

Open to all students. Dist: SOC; WCult: NW. Runnels.

41. Native American Literature and the Law (pending faculty approval)

09W: 2A 10W: 10A

The Acoma Pueblo poet Simon Ortiz once noted that “because of the insistence to keep telling and creating stories, Indian life continues, and it is this resistance against loss that has made life possible.” The regenerative and re-affirming force of tribal stories has been most severely tested when confronted by the overwhelming and often destructive power of Federal law in Indian affairs. The complex matrix of legal and political relations between Indian tribes and the Federal government thus serves as singularly important arena to examine contested notions of national identity, sovereignty, relationships to lands and people, and concepts of justice. Students will read literary texts produced by Native authors and legal texts involving Indian tribes in an effort to understand how the Native production of stories contributes to the persistence of tribalism in contemporary Native America.

Open to Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors. Duthu, Goeman (09W), Duthu (10W).

42. Gender Issues in Native American Life (Identical to Women’s and Gender Studies 40)

08F: 10A

We will address issues of gender in indigenous communities as it relates to culture, policy, history, and social life. Indigenous in the context of this class will focus on the diversity of Native people within/across settler-colonial nation-states. The project based assignments will tackle common misperceptions, the complexity of changing gender patterns, the methods Native communities develop to balance out gender inequities, and various organizing of Native women’s activism. The aim of this class is to create an understanding of how gender issues are a vital component in the process of decolonization

Open to all students. Dist: SOC; WCult: CI. Goeman.

44. Native Land, Literatures, and Identities (Identical to English 67)

Not offered in the period from 08F through 10S

45. American Indian Intellectuals

09S, 10S: 12

This course surveys some of the prominent voices in American Indian intellectual culture from the 1960s to the present. The course will examine four “kinds” of American Indian intellectuals in order to make better sense of what an American Indian intellectual is, and more importantly, what does it mean to be part of an American Indian “intellectual culture”? The course will explore the work of tribal leaders, American Indian scholars, artists and writers, and Native women.

Open to sophomores, juniors and seniors. Dist: TMV; WCult: NW. Turner.

47. Contemporary Native American Poetry (Identical to English 67, section 13) (pending faculty approval)

09S, 10S: 10

As Muscogee poet, Joy Harjo, expresses in the introduction of the anthology, “Reinventing the Enemy’s Language”, Native peoples are “...still dealing with a holocaust of outrageous proportion in these lands...Many of us at the end of the century are using the ‘enemy’s language’ with which to tell our truths, to sing, to remember ourselves during these troubled times.” This course examines the ways contemporary American Indian poets employ literary gestures of resistance to the ongoing effects of colonization, and how their poetry contributes to the survival of tribal memory and the regeneration of tribal traditions and communities. We examine the influence of oral tradition and ritual life upon contemporary poets, as well as the position Native American poetic “voice” occupies in contemporary postcolonial discourse.

Open to all classes. Palmer.

49. The Land of the Totem Poles: Native Peoples of the Northwest Coast (Identical to Anthropology 25)

Not offered in the period from 08F through 10S

With their complex social organization, elaborate ceremonies, fascinating mythology, and flamboyant “art,” the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast represent a truly unique “culture area” of Native North America. The course surveys several cultures of this region (from the coast of Oregon to southeastern Alaska), drawing upon early travelers’ accounts, anthropological works, native testimony, artifacts from the Hood Museum of Art, and films. Lectures, class discussions, and student presentations will deal with the “classic” Northwest Coast cultures of the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries as well as their modern versions. Open to all classes. Dist: SOC; WCult: NW. Kan.

50. Native Americans and the Law (Identical to Government 69)

09S: 10A

This course will focus on the constitutional, statutory and jurisprudential rules of law that make up the field of Federal Indian Law. Attention will be given to the historical framework from which the rules were derived. After tracing the development of the underlying legal doctrines that are prominent today, the course will turn to a consideration of subject-specified areas of Indian law, including hunting and fishing rights, water rights, and preservation of religious and cultural rights.

Open to sophomores, juniors and seniors. Dist: SOC; WCult: NW. Duthu.

52. Environmental Issues in Indian Country (Identical to Environmental Studies 52)

08F: 2A

This course will explore a variety of approaches to studying environmental issues in Indian Country (in both the United States and Canada). While a number of academic disciplines will be investigated over the semester, students should form a synthetic understanding of the issues scholars face when taking on “Indian” and “environmental” issues in their studies. We will focus on three key issues: (1) The impact of the ‘invented’ Indian on understandings of Indigenous environmental practices, (2) The differences between Native and non-Native approaches to Indigenous environmental knowledge; (3) Resistances to colonialism and the maintenance of Indigenous knowledge within contemporary political and legal contexts.

Open to all classes. Dist: SOC; WCult: NW. Ranco.

54. Who Owns Native Culture? (Identical to Anthropology 60)

Not offered in the period from 08F through 10S

One of the key goals of Native American Studies is to re-center the representation of Indians from the perspective of Native American peoples and communities. This course will examine the structural and disciplinary constraints that prevent this goal from being realized, as well as the potential intellectual downfalls of this goal. In particular, the course will explore the critiques of academic representation and research practices offered by contemporary Native American scholars and place them in dialogue with scholars from the ‘dominant’ disciplines that study Indians—anthropology, history, and literature.

Open to all classes. Dist: SOC; WCult: CI. Ranco.

58. Environmental Justice Movements in the United States (Identical to Environmental Studies 58)

Not offered in the period from 08F through 10S

This class will explore how communities of color have responded to the incidence, causes, and effects of environmental racism. Special attention will be given to how the critiques offered by these communities challenge the knowledge and procedural forms of justice embedded in environmental policy in the United States. Case studies will be drawn from readings on African-Americans, European-Americans, Chicano and Latino Americans, and Native Americans.

Open to all classes. Dist: SOC; WCult: CI. Ranco.

80. Advanced Seminars in Native American Studies

09S, 10S: 2

In 09S, Bear Clan Texts. In Athabascan homelands, in Iroquoia, or in Siberia—wherever Ursidae (order: Carnivora) finds a natural habitat, the indigenous peoples of these geographical regions honor and acknowledge the Bear’s powers of healing, strength, and protection. This course engages various textual forms that feature Bear imagery in traditional stories, songs, ritual representations, and in various textual vehicles that transmit sacred and practical knowledge. The texts we will consider appear in genres of ethnopoetics, performative narratives, nature writing, some early ethnographic accounts and recordings, recent environmental literature, and in the contemporary poetry and prose of several Native American authors.

Open to Juniors and Seniors with written permission of the instructor. Dist: LIT; WCult: NW. Palmer.

81. Senior Seminars in Native American Studies

09W: 2A 09S, 10S: 10A

In 09W, American Odysseys: Lewis and Clark, Native Americans and the New Nation (Identical to History 96, Section 1). From 2004-2006, the United States commemorated the Lewis and Clark Expedition, in which the “Corps of Discovery” led by Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark completed a remarkable odyssey, journeying from St. Louis across the “new” American West, to the Pacific Ocean, and back. Like the Columbian Quincentennial of 1992, this anniversary needs to be considered from a variety of perspectives, to try and understand the different experiences and meanings of the event for the various people involved. The expedition ushered in a new world for both the young United States and the Indian peoples of the American West. This seminar will examine the context, experiences, and repercussions of the expedition. We will focus on the journals Lewis and Clark recorded.

Open to Juniors and Seniors with written permission of the instructor. Dist: SOC; WCult: W. Calloway.

In 09S and 10S, Contemporary Aboriginal Politics in Canada (Identical to Government 86, Section 16, pending faculty approval). Since 1982, the rights of the Aboriginal peoples in Canada have been entrenched in the second part of the Canadian Constitution. Section 35(1) reads: “The existing Aboriginal and treaty rights of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed.” Unfortunately for Aboriginal peoples, section 35 rights have largely been determined by the Supreme Court of Canada and not through a dialogical political process. The purpose of this seminar is to explore contemporary Aboriginal politics in Canada and gain a greater understanding of the complex nature of the Aboriginal-Canadian state legal and political relationship.

Open to Juniors and Seniors with written permission of the instructor. Dist: SOC; WCult: CI. Turner.

85. Independent Study in Native American Studies

All Terms: Arrange

This course is designed for students who wish to pursue in depth some subject in Native American Studies not currently offered at the College. Students may not register for independent study until they have discussed their topic with the instructor, and have a course permission card signed by the Chair. Please consult the rules and regulations for NAS 85 in the Program office.

Prerequisite: at least two Native American Studies courses. The Chair.

86. Independent Research in Native American Studies

All Terms: Arrange

This course is designed for a student who wishes to research a particular problem in greater depth than is possible in an Independent Study course (NAS 85). The Chair must give approval, and a faculty advisor will be assigned to each student to supervise the work through regular class meetings. Usually a formal paper embodying the results of the research is required. A student wishing to enroll in this course must first discuss the topic with a faculty member, who will serve as research advisor, and then submit a formal research proposal to the Program.

Prerequisite: at least three Native American Studies courses. The Chair.

87. Native American Studies Honors

All Terms: Arrange

This course is open only to majors and double majors by arrangement with the Chair. The course requires the completion of a formal thesis. Please consult the rules for this course in the Native American Studies Program office.

Prerequisite: Native American Studies 85, 86, and permission of the Chair of the program and the faculty member who will be advising the student. The Chair.