Native Courses at ND

The University of Notre Dame's Native American topic course offerings vary by semester and year. Below is a sampling of the types of courses that have been offered recently.

Fall 2016

NATIVE AMERICAN STUDIES
AMST 30180, HIST 30623, taught by Brian Collier

America is Indian Country! Our identity is tied to both real American Indian people and romanticized ideas about them. Anglo Americans liked to play Indian but they also claimed a right to places, land, and water. All of this presented a variety of problems for Native Americans over time. This course examines Native Americans and their constant adaptation and survival from European contact through the 20th century, as well as Anglo America's cooption of Native resources, traditions, and images. It explores themes of Native American creation, treaties, education, sovereignty, culture, literature, humor, art, and activism. We will address national issues but also recognize their are over 500 distinct cultural and linguistic groups who are the indigenous people of the modern United States. Questions we will explore include why Native people are sovereign but also U.S. Citizens, why Indian mascots are such a hot issue, and how Native people have come to run so many Casinos. This course is the history and culture course that brings the first Americans together with the rest of America. 

GLOBAL INDIGENOUS POLITICS
ANTH 4304, ANTH 63403, IIPS 63202, taught by Christopher Ball

Indigenous people often appear to be people without property. Whether it is outside observers who presume that they never had a ?proper? economy of individual possessions, or whether it is indigenous representatives who define themselves as having lost their property?their land, their traditions, their languages?what and who is indigenous is defined by an absence. In contemporary contexts of globalization, however, indigenous traditional knowledge as intellectual property has become a lightning rod of political action. There has been a corresponding redefinition of the indigenous from the criterion of autochthony or priority to relations of dispossession or appropriation. Anthropology has continued comparative study of the variety of theories of, or knowledge about, property and its place in the construction of individuals and collectivities in indigenous societies. This course connects cultural categories of property with ethnographic scenes of its alienation to explore the emerging role of culture as emblem, itself a kind of property. We ask how indigenous appropriation of the culture concept and colonial appropriation of the environmental knowledge, art, language, and land of indigenous cultures furthers the cycle of symbolic and material exchange that defines indigeneity. 

 
RACE, EXPERIENCE, AND POLITICS
ANTH  43304, HESB  43892, ILS  43104, ANTH  63304, AFST  43708, IIPS  63204, taught by Gabriel Torres
 
This course challenges students to think about the relationship between the experience of race and politics. Historically, scholars have variously theorized race and racism, so we first consider the socio-cultural contexts of such intellectual engagements. Secondly, we examine the many ways in which race can be experienced: from everyday life, to education, and to popular culture (e.g., film, dance, music, and sports). Finally, we explore the politicization of race in various liberal democratic states. Throughout the semester, students must critically engage the junctures and disjunctures between racial experience and political thought. Although considerable weight will be given to ethnographic sources, this course is interdisciplinary and will draw from disciplines across the social sciences and humanities. 
 
USEM: Sustainable Wisdom, Civilization, and the Good Life 
taught by Eugene Halton
 

The story of civilization as a march from primitive conditions and scarcity to inevitable progress and abundance has given way to a record showing the legacy of pre- and non-civilized peoples as thriving in sustainable lifestyles and beliefs. The advent of civilization marks a break from that long past and its sustainable wisdom, toward progressive ways of living that also came with many costs, ancient and modern.

Through a combination of diverse readings, practical activities, field trips, and the sustainable wisdom conference, this seminar will consider the place of sustainable wisdom for contemporary civilization. The first weeks examine the watershed of consciousness involved in the transition from hunter-gatherer life to that of agriculturally-based civilization. Later topics include transitions to modern life and how practices and ideas from the legacy of sustainable wisdom might contribute to the good life today.

USEM: Sustainable Wisdom, Civilization, and the Good Life 
taught by Darcia Narvaez
 
The story of civilization is often perceived as a march from primitive conditions and scarcity to abundance and inevitable progress. However, the record shows that pre and non-civilized peoples thrived with sustainable lifestyles and beliefs. Civilization then marks a break from that long past and its sustainable wisdom, toward ways of living that came with many costs. Through a combination of diverse readings, practical activities, field trips (Fernwood Gardens, Snite Museum, Farmer’s market), and the sustainable wisdom conference, this seminar will consider the place of sustainable wisdom for contemporary civilization. The first weeks examine the watershed of consciousness involved in the transition from hunter-gatherer life to that of agriculturally-based civilization. Later topics include how practices and ideas from the legacy of sustainable wisdom might contribute to the good life today. Students read contemporary and classic essays, stories and poems on the nature of wisdom, civilization and the good life. We take up practices that promote wellbeing and discuss how to balance the elements of a wise and good life.

 

Spring 2016

NATIVE AMERICAN LITERATURE
AMST 30141, ANTH 30041, ENGL 40814, taught by Robert Walls

Native Americans have long been trapped in a betwixt and between state, caught by the forces of past and present, tradition and assimilation, romanticization and caricature. Yet through it all, Native voices have continued to speak of the Indian experience with great power and eloquence. This course will introduce Native American literature as a distinctive contribution to American and world literature. We will examine a wide range of expressive culture from the last century, including novels, poetry, graphic stories, children's literature, film, digital media, autobiographies, performances of oral literature, and music. Through the passion, creativity, and humor of Indian authors, we will learn something of the historical experience of Native men and women, and how they have reacted to massacres and mascots, racism and reservations, poverty and political oppression. Above all, we will try to understand how indigenous authors have used literature to engage crucial issues of race and culture in the United States that continue to influence their lives: identity, self-discovery, the centrality of place, cultural survival, and the healing power of language and spirituality. Class discussions will incorporate literary, historical, and ethnographic perspectives of Native expressive culture and the agency of authors as artists and activists vis-à-vis the wider American literary tradition. Authors include Sherman Alexie, Nicholas Black Elk, Louise Erdrich, D'Arcy McNickle, N. Scott Momaday, Linda Hogan, Winona LaDuke, and Leonard Peltier.