American Indian Literature: Resistance and Renewal

                        Jaune Quick-To-See Smith (Salish)
T H I S      I S      I N D I A N      C O U N T R Y

Fall   2012 * TR  9:30 - 10:45  *  TLC  023


Course Info
Service Learning
Essential Understandings in Stud
Class Schedule
Final Project
Lecture Notes
Historical Trauma
Indian Humor
Campus Events

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.

Course Objectives:
1. Trace specific Indian traditions and practices, such as storytelling and forming community;
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 critical investigations;
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 abilities.
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 you.

Student Responsibilities:
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:

Outcome A: Comprehension

1. 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.

2.  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 written literature.

3. 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.

4.  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 appreciation.

Outcome B: Application

1.  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.

2.  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 meaning.