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The Indigenous, in Us All

Integrated Seminar 101 Section 3

Spring Semester 2014

Satisfactory completion of this seminar satisfies a General Education requirement


Entrance Sign
Shoshoni Sun Dance,
July 2000

source: Frey 2000
Welcome to "The Indigenous, in Us All."   I'm your instructor, Rodney Frey.  You are always welcome in my office.  I look forward to visiting with you.   You can contact me at:

Our textbooks to be used for semester are:

Seminar and Family Session days, times, and locations:

  • Seminar Times: Tuesday and Thursdays 8:00 - 9:15 

  • Classroom:  TLC 023

  • Family Meetings:  TBA within Families     NOTE: allow time for regular out-of-class group meetings.

Office Locations and Hours:

  • Rodney's office is in Phinney Hall, Rm.116, with office hours on Mondays 9:30 to 12:00, or by appointment.

Go to:

Seminar Description:   In this seminar we will explore the meaning and significance of the oral traditions and stories, and of rites of passage and world renewal ceremonies, that help create and sustain Indigenous communities throughout the world today, with special attention to the Schitsu-umsh and Apsáalooke (Coeur d'Alene and Crow American Indian). Among the sacred story texts we will engage are such accounts as Burnt Face, Salmon Goes Up River, Coyote and the Swallowing Monster, Sedna, and Changing Woman and her Twin Sons.  As we engage these story texts, we will explore the great teachings in Indigenous communities.

As the seminar methodology is self-reflexive, students will “travel” (through the learning activities) into these Indigenous communities, while at the same time explore and perhaps unveil special and revered territories within him or herself, and his or her own community.  

Certain essential questions will be explored:  What distinguishes the Indigenous from you and what do we all share in common?   How have we defined the ultimate nature of reality?  What are our quintessential goals in life? What is a "healthy person"?   How do rites of passage influence our lives?  Are we a part of nature or so we live apart from nature? What influences our capacities to love someone, and to hate another?   How are we to engage the many strangers amongst us?    We will explore how Indigenous communities have responded and how you will respond to these questions.  And as a result of this seminar, we will ask and begin to answer, what attributes and competencies define an educated person?

Before we begin our journey and to better equip you for it, we will develop your learning skills in "Huckleberrying" and "Eye Juggling."   The seminar will provide an academic research and learning technique (as distinguished from a theological approach) involving an integrated humanities and social sciences methodology known as Eye Juggling, that allows you to interpret religious/cultural symbols, values and stories from not only Indigenous but from all human communities.  As you consider various sacred story texts throughout this seminar, such as an oral narrative or a ritual dance, interpreting these texts will allow you to better understand the meaning embedded within them.  It is a methodology that allows you to get a little closer to seeing the world's communities from the perspectives of the community's members themselves.  

As the seminar's methodology is self-reflexive, as you will “travel” (through the learning activities) into these Indigenous communities, you will at the same time explore and perhaps unveil special and revered territories within yourself, and your own community.  And as a consequence, by juxtaposing what can be unique and distinct alongside what is often veiled and taken for granted, one also can more clearly reveal and appreciate your own essential and cherished values and teachings.  In the juxtapose we also come to know and experience what we share in common, the Indigenous in us all.

This seminar is the foundational entry course into the University of Idaho’s General Education curriculum.

The U of I General Education curriculum emphasizes a multi-year, broad liberal education.  It is a curriculum conceptually and pedagogically integrated, beginning with the ISEM 101 Integrated Seminars; then between their first and third years students bridge into the five skills and perspectives curricular components of Communication, Science, Math, Humanities and Social Science, and American Diversity and International; the integration is then reiterated with the ISEM 301 Great Issues seminars, and culminates with the Senior Experience.  The Integrated Studies component of ISEM 101, ISEM 301 and Senior Experience is specially designed to be educational points of General Education integration.  Infused throughout this curriculum are the shared Learning Outcomes of the University of Idaho, which are reflective of the unique mission of the University of Idaho, and consistent with the Essential Learning Outcomes of LEAP (Liberal Education and America’s Promise; see http://www.aacu.org/leap/).   It is a General Education curriculum which complements and is cohesive with a student’s major field of study, and not a standalone, ‘check-off-the-box’ educational experience.


Learning Activities and Grade Distribution: This is a seminar modeled as a rite of passage.  As such, it is a seminar that requires your participation.  You can not assume a passive observer's role, viewing the sacred journeys from afar.  To help you stay on course and reach your destination, you will need to adhere to the "Pilgrimage Edicts" of this course.  As a “rite of passage” some of the learning activities will be conducted as an individual journey, while other learning activities will be engaged as “family” group journeys.   The “families” will also serve as study groups.  

Your attendance and participation are essential at all seminar sessions and all out-of-class family meetings.   Repeated absences will render you as a "rock,"  . . . . .  and rocks don't get good grades!   And there are many ways to accumulate rocks.  Loading your pockets with rocks only slows your progress toward the seminar's pilgrimage destination.   Shouldering too many rocks will prevent you from even reaching that destination.     

NOTE: As e-mail is the out-of-class form of instructor-student, as well as family group communications, regularly using and checking of your e-mail is critical.   You are expected to check your e-mail on a daily basis.

Each of the seminar's Learning Activities are in turn linked to specific Learning Outcomes of this seminar and of the university.   The Learning Outcomes of this seminar are in turn linked to a Grading Rubric. You will be expected to complete the following Learning Activities:

A.  Assessing the Growth of the Neophyte   (three exams - 45% of your grade)

B.  Pilgrimages   (attendance, in-class discussions, note-taking and reflective writes - 15% of your grade)

C. Family Quest    (group participatory project - 40% of your grade)

D. Common Read Passage (individual response essay - 10 extra credit points)

Grade Distribution: Your final grade will be based upon the total points earned from A. the three exams (90 points; 30 points for each of three exams);  B. attending seminar sessions, family group meetings, in-class discussion, and reflective writes (30 points; 2 points for the approximate fifteen meetings/writes/discussions/notes; repeated misses earn you "rocks" and result in points being taken away); C. family participatory project (10 points for proposal, and 70 points for project, for total of 80 points); and D. Common Read essay (10 extra credit points).  Only through participation can you arrive at our pilgrimage destination, the ISEM 101 Leaning Outcomes, and receive your earned and appropriate grade.  The following scale typically determines your grade: 180-200 (90%-100%) = A, 160-179 (80%-89%) = B, 140-159 (70%-79%) = C, 120-139 (60%-69%) = D  

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