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AIST 401 Contemporary American Indian Issues

Course Requirements


Course Requirements:  This is a seminar in participation. The student can not assume a passive observer's role, viewing the subject matter from afar. To successfully engage these activities, each student will be expected to complete the following learning activities: an academic journal, a research project, and seminar presentations, each activity worth 33% of the studentís total grade.

1. Journal. The first learning activity will for each student to maintain an academic "journal." The journal will include not only the studentís summaries of readings and class presentations and discussions in his or her own words, but also reflections on the implications and significances of topics considered.  To reflect is not to summarize but to seriously and critically think about and consider the assumptions and implications of a position, idea or expression.   Students are encouraged to link the themes conveyed in the readings and lectures with personal experiences and previous academic study, incorporating these insights into the journal entries. The student is expected to make a minimum of twelve (12) entries, each on a different topic discussed in class or in the readings (assigned textbooks and newspaper) and each no less than a page in length. The selection of the particular topics (and thus journal entries) is at the discretion of the student, though they must correspond to the topics concerned in the seminar as covered during class and in the reading assignments. The entries can be hand-written or word processed. The journal will be reviewed periodically throughout the semester by the instructor, and turned in at the end of the semester for grading.

Grading criteria:

  1. The journal includes both written summaries (clearly and accurately articulating the position of the author) and, most critically, reflective discussions (exploring the implications of the topic and linking them with the student's experiences and previous academic study) on the topics considered.

  2. It is written in a legible and well-organize style with concepts and illustrative examples clearly articulated.

  3. The journal has a minimum of twelve (12), one-page entries.

2. Research Project. The second activity involves a research project. This project will provide the student with an opportunity to more fully develop the background and implications of one of the topics presented during the seminar or explore a topic not addressed in the seminar (per the approval of the instructor). Among the possible topical areas of research are issues associated with Indian cultural continuity and assimilation, economic development, bilingual education and language survival, reservation law and the legal system, the emergence of Indian artists and writers, cultural and natural resource management, repatriation, Indian education, health care delivery, issues of tribal, state, and federal sovereignty, and International Indigenous Rights. The student will first explore a given topic descriptively, presenting the relevant historical background issues as well as the relevant cultural, economic, aesthetic, political or social characteristics of the topic. The student will then interpret its significance and meaning, and consider its application to contemporary issues facing Indian communities. Students are encouraged to develop and execute the project under the guidance of one the American Indian Studies instructors. Such a mentoring relationship with an instructor can provide additional insights and perspectives to the project.  

To give a sense of the expected depth and breadth of the research project, the paper should minimally approximate ten to twelve (10-12) typed pages.  A complete bibliography of sources used should be included. A one page topic prospectus is due by mid-term. The final project is due at the end of the semester and will be orally presented during the seminar.

Grading criteria:

  1. The project is thoroughly researched, covering the breadth and depth of the topic in question.

  2. The project is anchored and applied to contemporary and relevant issues faced in Indian communities.

  3. All primary and secondary sources are listed.

  4. The project is presented and written in a legible and well-organize style with concepts and illustrative examples clearly articulated.

  5. The written project conforms to proper AAA, APA or MLA format and style of parenthetical documentation.

  6. The project is orally presented, providing a clear summation and an engaging other seminar participants in discussion of the topic.

  7. Proposal and written project submitted on the due dates.  Points will be deduced for late submissions of both the proposal and/or project.

3. Seminar Presentations and Discussions. As this course is presented in a seminar format, the final activity involves each student presenting and leading discussion on various reading assignments. The specific readings and their number will be assigned at the beginning of the semester, depending on student interests and the total student enrollment in the seminar.  In additional to being prepared to give your own presentations, you are excepted to have all the appropriate reading assignments read on the dates they are assigned and be ready to respond informatively to the seminar presenter's questions.  Suggestions on Seminar Participation 

Grading criteria:

  1. Accurately summarize the thesis, position and arguments presented by the author of the article.

  2. Provide additional background information to better contextualize the thesis of the article culturally, economically, educationally, historically, politically, etc.

  3. Provide reflective questions based upon the article that engage seminar participation.

  4. Successfully lead academically-constructive seminar discussions.

  5. Being prepared to constructively discuss all the articles on the dates they are assigned.

4. Class attendance. Class attendance is expected. The materials presented during class presentations and through the films are essential for successful completion of this course, and its exams and paper. Repeated absences and/or late arrivals will lower your grade. For each unexcused absence beyond two absences, you will forfeit five (5) points from your total grade score.


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