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Autumn 2017 Courses in American Indian Studies

Submitted by Mathieu Dubeau on August 4, 2017 - 8:47am

Announcement from the Department of American Indian Studies



Historical practices mandated the cultural assimilation and colonization of North American Indigenous peoples, but according to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars, the inevitable legacy of colonialism is likely to influence every aspect of the lives of the subjugated persons for eternity. This course will examine 1) the foundations of psychological colonization and 2) how understanding these foundations can provide a roadmap for ameliorating the ongoing disruptions to self and identity development, families, education, and the future development of tribal communities. Theoretical and empirical evidence will be drawn from the experiences of indigenous communities in the U.S. and Canada, and at times from other colonized groups from around the world. A central issues throughout the course is whether and how the techniques and technologies of contemporary psychology should be appropriately adapted and/or adopted for use in Indigenous cultural communities.  This course is designed for upper-level students who have had at least one course in American Indian Studies.


How do indigenous peoples organize themselves to achieve development? Is it to do with money? Is it to do with culture? Is it to do with identity? Is it to do with the environment? Actually, what is development for indigenous peoples?

This course will provide an opportunity for students to learn the theory and practice around the distinctive cultural, social, economic, political and legal environments of Indigenous governance by indigenous groups within the four settler-countries of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the USA with other examples drawn from across the Pacific Islands (reference will also be made at points in the course to indigenous groups from other parts of the world). 
As part of the course we’ll be interacting with leaders from indigenous groups from each of these countries – providing students an opportunity to learn first-hand what the struggles for better governance look like in these different countries. As part of the assessment we’ll take these theoretical ideas and put them into practice by working with local indigenous groups on projects to help improve governance outcomes in their own communities.
Taught within the context of the changing global order, and built around case studies from indigenous groups within each of these four settler-countries, the course presents students with the chance to better understand how indigenous groups within these four countries work to promote ongoing positive development for their communities. In doing so, we will look at both how indigenous action is leading to a re-thinking of what the very term governance itself means in an indigenous and non-indigenous context as well as explore how these ideas play out in the context of the lived day-to-day lives of indigenous individuals, communities, and nations.

AIS 275, URBAN INDIANS, 5 credits


This course will cover issues of concern to today’s urban American Indian/Alaska Natives. Topics will include ancient cities in the Americas, reasons Natives relocated to modern day cities and examine the cultural, social, economic and political outcomes of such a migration. Students will take an in-depth look into the contemporary Indian identity, issues encountered by Indians in the urban setting and the resulting outcomes as demonstrated in major metropolitan cities: Indian organizations; federal programs; pan-Indian identities; healthcare; social/Indian child welfare, urbanization of traditional homelands, and cultural survival/resilience.



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