This course allows you to study Native
American literature through an Indigenous perspective. We begin with oral
literatures of the Inland Northwest, then read a graphic collection of Animal
Tales, before moving to an "as told to" memoir of Horace Axtell, a Nez Perce
elder and spiritual leader who lives in Lewiston. We'll then explore several
contemporary Indigenous approaches to Native literature, before reading three novels by Northwest Native authors:
James Welch (Gros Ventre/Blackfeet), Debra Magpie Earling (Salish), and Richard
Van Camp (First Nations/Dogrib). We
will explore historical and cultural factors influencing contemporary American
Indian texts including Native traditions of identity and healing and humor, U.S. policies on
Native people. The course is organized under the theme, "Resistance and
Renewal," to demonstrate the continuing efforts of Indian people to decolonize and empower themselves
admidst ongoing colonialism.
1. Trace specific Indian traditions and practices, such as storytelling and
2. Explain significant connections between literary subject matter and U.S.
government policy and American history;
3. Interpret historical events and probe their impact on indigenous people as
represented in the literature;
4. Explore and differentiate between Western and Indian ways of understanding experience;
5. Recognize and appreciate the themes, forms and styles and aesthetics of various Indian
writers and traditions;
6. Collect meaningful data from the primary readings to examine in light of
7. Use supplementary texts to investigate topics related to
required course readings;
8. Produce researched essays that reflect thought about the connections between
Indians living today and the tribal traditions from which they have come.
9. Increase oral and written communication skills and critical thinking
10. Increase our understanding of the Native American experience, and increase our capacity for active, informed citizenship.
My Teaching Philosophy/My Pledge to You
I strive to teach in a way that fosters
active student participation (instead of passive consumption), critical thinking
(questioning, looking and investigating from multiple perspectives), self
reflection, and transformation, in a democratic setting where authority and
power are shared by students and teacher. We will form a community and learn
together, with you providing critical insights and perspectives. I will challenge myseIf and my
students to recognize the injustice of the status quo, and to try to find
solutions to the problems of inequality in American society, even though this
will cause discomfort and conflict.
My courses strive to help students attain UI
Learning Outcome #4: "Clarify purpose and perspective--Explore one's life
purpose and meaning through transformational experiences that foster an
understanding of self, relationships, and diverse global perspectives."
I pledge to treat all students with respect and expect you to treat your
fellow students and me with respect. In this course we will strive to form a
relevant and effective learning community that will have a lasting and positive impact on
* Come to each class having read the assigned material carefully and be
prepared to discuss it in class.
* Cell phones must be turned off; no texting or cell use during class.
* Respect for others, including verbally and body language.
* If you are having any difficulty, or need help of any kind, please
feel free to contact me as soon as possible. This is my job; you pay for it
so use it.
* Please bring to every class critical thinking skills, a willingness to
entertain new ideas, a willingness to listen, discuss, and of course, a
sense of humor.
Our course is a requirement of the American Indian Studies
Minor; below are the learning objectives and outcomes for AIS minors, which can
be applied to our course with some modification:
American Indian History, Literature, and Society - the content of Indian
cultures. Graduates successfully acquire an understanding of the vitality
and rich diversity of contemporary American Indian societies, their
histories, and their literatures, e.g., in the arts and expressive culture,
in governmental affairs both indigenous and external, in economics,
ecological relations and natural resources, in health care, and in family,
social and religious life, in oral traditions, in world views and cultural
values. This understanding is inclusive of both indigenous cultural, as
well as contact-historical expressions. An understanding of Tribal
sovereignty and its varied meanings is key to this outcome.
American Indian Pedagogy, Aesthetics, Epistemology, and
Communication Modes – the structures and processes of Indian cultures.
Graduates successfully acquire an understanding of American Indian
pedagogies, aesthetics, epistemologies, and modes of communication, along
with contact-history processes such as assimilation, syncretism, adaptation,
and revitalization. Modes of communication include language, visual arts,
film media, dance and architecture, along with both orality and
literacy-based creative expressions, such as music, storytelling, and
American Indian Ethical Responsibility – the ethics of Indian
cultures. Graduates successfully acquire an understanding of the ethical
responsibilities entailed with the care and use of the knowledge of American
Indian cultures and heritage, e.g., the garnered respect toward and cultural
property rights of American Indian knowledge, and the ethical responsibility
to serve others with the knowledge gained.
Interdisciplinary Approach. Graduates successfully acquire the content
knowledge and research methods skills of the varied academic
disciplines that comprise the AIST curriculum minor, including Anthropology
(e.g., ANTH 329 North American Indians), History (e.g., HIST 431 History of
Indian/White Relations), Literature (e.g., ENGL 484 American Indian
Literature), and Indigenous Studies (e.g., AIST 401 Contemporary American
Indian Issues). In so doing and in concert with the content knowledge and
research methods skills of the student’s Major field of study (e.g., in
Business, Education, Engineering, Fisheries Biology, Forestry, Natural
Resources, Health Care, Humanities, or Social Sciences, etc.), the student
acquires an appreciation and understanding of an interdisciplinary approach,
as well as acquire the skills of multicultural communications and
Societal Application. Graduates can, with their acquired assemblage
of integrated knowledge and skills, better: 1) initiate and conduct applied
collaborative projects in Indian communities and the larger society, 2)
address and successfully meet the various issues and challenges faced in
Indian communities and the larger society, and 3) explore various creative
ways of expression, such as in music, creative writing, and visual arts.
Personal Application. Graduates can, through an appreciation of the
similarities and difference of various American Indian cultures and their
many expressions, better clarify their own identity, life purpose and