Fourth Annual

Distinguished American Indian Speaker's Series and Workshops

November 3 - 6, 2003


"Indigenizing the Curriculum"

Creating learning environments that convey the American Indian experience, benefits Indian communities, and incorporates Indian culture and history into our curriculum.


Co-sponsored by the University of Idaho's
American Indian Studies Program, College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences, College of Education, and the Humanities Seminar: Sense of Place

The keynote address and workshops are free and open to the public

For more information call: (208) 885-6268 or e-mail:

Framing Question: How do we create a learning environment that best conveys the American Indian experience and that beneficially serves the Indian communities?  In creating such a learning environment, how do we best consider the breadth of that Indian experience, from culture and history, to natural resources and health care, from prosperity and poverty, to reservation community and urban, etc.?   And in attempting create such a learning environment, how do we convey the Indian experience both appropriately and with authenticity?  And what is the meaning of "best," i.e., "best" for whom and to what end?

Keynote Address

Picture of Devon Mihesuah

"Indigenizing the Classroom: Inclusive and Empowering Strategies for Teachers and Students"

Devon Mihesuah

 Department of Applied Indigenous Studies, Northern Arizona University

November 3 at the College of Law Courtroom at 7:00 PM

Mihesuah is member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and is a historian. She received her Ph.D. in American History from TCU in 1989, and was professor of American Indian History in NAU's history department for 10 years. She is now professor of Applied Indigenous Studies, and edits the award winning journal American Indian Quarterly (won the Wordcrafters Circle of Native Writers' Award for 2001 Journal Editor of the Year) and edits University of Nebraska Press's book series, "Contemporary Indigenous Issues." Her work focuses on the themes of decolonization and empowerment strategies. Her latest book, co-authored by Angela Cavender Wilson, Indigenizing the Academy: Native Academics Sharpening the Edge, compiles essays from prominent Native writers in numerous academic fields and deals with how to achieve and retain indigenous knowledge, empowerment, and decolonization. Mihesuah has been active in the repatriation issue for over 15 years.

Among the questions presented in Mihesuah's address will be: What has worked best and least for you in the classroom?  How do you deal with hostile students?  How can you empower Native students without angering non-Native patriots?  Roles of guest speakers. What topics are off-limits? (religions? ceremonies?)  How can you assist students who have complaints about racist professors without compromising yourself?  How can each class topic contribute to Native empowerment?  How do you present yourself to students? How do you introduce the topic of colonization?  How do you slap students awake and make them think about topics they have never thought about before?  How do you label yourself?  Are you an activist? Do you show by example?



Following your keynote address, a series of six panel workshops will be held.  These are envisioned as "hands-on dialogues," rather than "lectures."  They would be intended for the U of I faculty and school teachers from the Moscow, Lapwai and Kamiah (Nez Perce), Plummer and Worley (Coeur díAlene) School Districts, along with the Coeur díAlene Tribal School. They would also be open to students and the general public.

To help make the experience more meaningful for the faculty participants and further their engagement in the workshop process, we will have them bring a current syllabus or construct syllabi and lesson plans, and as they participate in each of the workshops, their syllabi and lesson plans would evolve appropriately. Each participant would thus have something doable and concrete to take away from the conference.

The panels for the workshops would be made up of educators from the Nez Perce and Coeur díAlene communities, as well as the University of Idaho.  Facilitators include DíLisa Pinkham (Nez Perce, AIST Affiliate Faculty), Felix Aripa (Coeur díAlene, AIST Affiliate Faculty), Dianne Allen (Coeur díAlene, Director of Education), Bob Sobotta (Nez Perce, Lewis-Clark State College), students from Native American Student Association students, as well as some full-time U of I faculty, including Karen Guilfoyle (Education), Georgia Johnson (Education), Jan Johnson (English), Rodney Frey (Anthropology), and Debbie Storrs (Sociology). 

To consider some of the many questions that will be addressed during the workshops, go to: an inquiring anthropologist 

Workshop Schedule and Topics

Note: If you plan to attend one, any or all the workshops, you must RSVP to before Friday October 31.  Space is limited.

1. Ethical and sovereignty issues: What are the responsibilities of educators to the indigenous peoples they represent in their curriculum? What is the interface between cultural/intellectual property rights and academic freedom? Other questions to be developed.  Facilitators: Jan Johnson, Steve Evans and Diana Mallickan.   Tuesday November 4th from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. in the Clearwater Room of the Commons

2. Pedagogy and methodology: What are the implications of a Euro-American pedagogy vs. an Indigenous pedagogy on an Indian curriculum? What value can be gained in collaborative teaching? And a related questions: what are the roles of the elders and the faculty in the classroom? How should we consider the student audience with regard to differing or similar Indian and non-Indian learning styles? Is a "classroom" only to be defined in terms of an on-campus experience? Other questions to be developed. Facilitators: Georgia Johnson, Robin Wilson, D'Lisa Penny-Pinkham, and Sally Brownfiled.  Tuesday November 4th from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. in the Clearwater Room of the Commons

3. Content issues: How do we validate and best infuse Indian ways of knowing into the curriculum? What are the key issues and content subjects that Indian communities want taught? How can we "best" address issues of authenticity and accuracy, as well as appropriateness and cultural sensitive in the curriculum content? How does an instructor distinguish between family-tribal-pan-Indian knowledge? Who has the "right" to teach Indian culture? How should we consider the student audience with regard to differing or similar Indian and non-Indian learning objectives? Other questions to be developed.  Facilitators: Karen Guilfoyle, Lori DeLorme and D'Lisa Penney-Pinkham. Wednesday November 5th from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. in the Horizon/Aurora Rooms of the Commons

4. Resources: The underlining theme of this workshop is that of "breaking down the walls" of the classroom and taking students into the "classroom of the elders," e.g., along the Clearwater River or to Chatcolet Lake, and having the elders come into the Moscow classroom.  Where to go for help?  Consider developing a "speakerís bureau," of speakers for classroom presentation, as well as off-campus field experiences on a variety issues and topics. Also consider the issue of funding such a bureau. Facilitators: Rodney Frey, Bob Sobotta, Rose Ann Abrahamson, and Josiah Pinkham.   Wednesday November 5th from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. in the Horizon/Aurora Rooms of the Commons

5.  Indian Student Experience and the Curriculum (a Student Workshop):  This workshop is designed to address issues related to schooling, education, and how to create a culturally sensitive classroom environment for Indian students. A panel of Indian students will share their perceptions, experiences, and advice on creating a culturally sensitive learning environment. Workshop participants will address classroom expectations concerning participation and engagement of Indian students, non-Indian students, and teachers in the classroom. The workshop will conclude with identifying strategies for faculty and non-Indian students to be more sensitive to Indian student concerns and experiences. Among the questions asked: how do Indian students and their faculty view the participatory roles and expectations of Indian students in the classroom? How can faculty be more sensitivity to Indian student concerns?  Facilitator: Debbie Storrs and D'Lisa Penny-Pinkham.  Thursday November 6th from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.  in the Whitewater Room of the Commons 

6. Conclusions and Extensions: What have we learned from these workshops?  What are the implications gained and lessons learned in better providing Indian education for other components of diversity education, as in womenís issues, Latino, gay/lesbian, etc.  What are our next steps? Other questions to be developed. Facilitator: "the team."  Thursday November 6th from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.  in the Whitewater Room of the Commons 

Credit Offered: We will also offer one semester credit for students interested in engaging the Speaker's Series and Workshops through the Diversity Certificate Program (See Debbie Storrs,  See Requirements.

Resources Gathered from the Keynote Address and Workshops


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