American Indian and Indigenous Studies Minor

Overview for American Indian and Indigenous Studies Minor

The American Indian and Indigenous studies minor enhances students’ knowledge of the life-worlds of American Indians and Indigenous peoples in the Americas. Building on diverse perspectives and scholarly resources, the course work in the minor will broaden students’ understanding of the political experiences, collective memories, ethnohistories, sociocultural traditions, and the contributions of Indigenous peoples to communities and nations. Courses explore a diverse range of topics, including sovereignty, language revitalization, identity, representation, and activism.

Notes about this minor:

  • This minor is closed to students majoring in international and global studies who have chosen the Indigenous studies track. 
  • Posting of the minor on the student's academic transcript requires a minimum GPA of 2.0 in the minor.
  • Notations may appear in the curriculum chart below outlining pre-requisites, co-requisites, and other curriculum requirements (see footnotes).

The plan code for American Indian and Indigenous Studies Minor is AIISTU-MN.

Curriculum for 2023-2024 for American Indian and Indigenous Studies Minor

Current Students: See Curriculum Requirements

Course
Required Course
ANTH-260
Native North Americans
This course examines the persistence and change in Native American cultures using archaeological, ethnohistorical, socioeconomic, ethnographic, linguistic, and autobiographical sources among others. In addition to broad regional and historical coverage, we will read about and discuss culture change, colonialism, federal law, gender, race, and places in Native American contexts. Our goal is to understand the lived experiences of Indian people and the many forces that shape Native American lives. Lecture 3 (Fa/sp/su).
Electives
Choose two of the following:
   ANTH-255
 Regional Archaeology*
Since the first humans set out from Africa nearly two million years ago, our ancestors and relatives managed to settle in almost every continent. Wherever they went, they left traces of their lives that are tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of years deep. We call these traces the archaeological record. Almost everywhere our ancestors settled, they did many of the same things, such as inventing agriculture, cities, writing, and state-level societies. However, they did this in ways unique to each region and time. This course examines the archaeology of a specific region, such as the Middle East, Mesoamerica, North America, or East Asia, in detail. We examine the geography, culture, archaeological record, and significance of the region to various key themes in archaeological research with respect to other world regions. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
   ANTH-265
 Native Americans in Film
This course will examine the parallels of anthropological works and resulting government policies in the late-19th and 20th centuries as they relate to the genre of Native Americans film, both popular and ethnographic works. In addition, an extensive regional and historical literature review will complement the possible films. Lecture 3 (Fa/sp/su).
   ANTH-335
 Culture and Politics in Latin America
What does it mean to be a region forged and defined by conquest? “Latin America” is a construct—a term referring to a vast region of the western hemisphere colonized by speakers of Latin-derived languages (including Spanish, Portuguese, and French). In this context, culture is political and politics are cultural. Throughout what is now called Latin America and the Caribbean, the cultural practices of Indigenous and African peoples became the justification for the imposition of European rule, territorial expansion, enslavement, the extraction of labor and natural resources, Christian evangelization, and the racialized legal frameworks that facilitated it all. This course traces these historical processes and examines present-day legacies of colonialism, including ethnic inequalities, colorism, economic vulnerability, patriarchal relations, and social unrest. We consider, as well, the agency of people of Indigenous and African descent as they pursued survival with tactics ranging from acquiescence and strategic passing to creative blending to outright defiance, resistance, and rebellion. Throughout, we look at how art, music, dance, literature, and religion have engaged critically with the forces of fascism, revolution, socialism, dictatorship, neo-imperialism, and globalization. Lecture 3 (Spring).
   ANTH-375
 Native American Sovereignty, Culture, and Resources (Topic ID #1-3)
There is a great cultural, and linguistic diversity among Native American Indigenous Nations and their approach to managing cultural and natural resources. This course will explore this diversity in addition to the various ways Indigenous nations have maintained and exerted their sovereignty. This will be done in one of three distinct topics: 1). American Indian Sovereignty - an examination of the historical and political foundations of Indigenous sovereignty and its current expressions; 2). Indigenous Economics and Economies - a contrasting of Indigenous approaches for building and maintaining sustainable economies with non-Indigenous ones combined with the use of economic methods to understand the impact of settler colonialism and capitalism on Indigenous economies; or 3). Native American Languages - an examination of: the structure and origin of Indigenous languages; the events that have led many Indigenous languages to be endangered; and the efforts to revitalize Indigenous languages. For clarification purposes: American Indian is used to refer to Indigenous people residing within the boundaries of the continental United States; Native American broadens this definition to include all Indigenous people residing in either North or South America; while Indigenous is the most broadly defined. Indigenous includes all people who identify with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies who consider themselves distinct from the societies now prevailing on those territories both within and outside the Americas. Lecture 3 (Spring).
   ANTH-489
 Topics in Anthropology§
This topics course focuses on specific themes or issues in anthropology, chosen by the instructor, vetted by the department chair, announced in the course subtitle on SIS, and developed in the syllabus. The topics of this course will vary, but the course number will remain the same. Students may not repeat the same topic. Seminar 3 (Fall, Spring).
   SOCI-489
 Topics in Sociology§
This topics course focuses on specific themes or issues in sociology, chosen by the instructor, vetted by the department chair, announced in the course subtitle on SIS, and developed in the syllabus. The topics of this course will vary, but the course number will remain the same. Students may repeat the course for credit, but may not repeat a topic. Seminar 3 (Fall, Spring).
Choose two of the following:
   ANTH-210
 Culture and Globalization
By exploring critical issues of globalizing culture, we examine how ideas, attitudes, and values are exchanged or transmitted across conventional borders. How has the production, articulation, and dissemination of cultural forms (images, languages, practices, beliefs) been shaped by global capitalism, media industries, communication technologies, migration, and tourist travels? How are cultural imaginaries forged, exchanged, and circulated among a global consumer public? How has the internationalizing of news, computer technologies, video-sharing websites, blogging sites, and other permutations of instant messaging served to accelerate cultural globalization? Students will be introduced to anthropological perspectives on cultural globalization, the transmission of culture globally, and the subsequent effects on social worlds, peoples, communities, and nations. Lecture 3 (Fa/sp/su).
   ANTH-312
 People Before Cities
More than half the global population today lives in densely populated urban areas, which are further surrounded by complex networks of smaller communities. Yet, the earliest cities appeared less than 6,000 years ago, a small fraction of time since our species’ first appearance. The characteristics that define us as human were forged in radically different social universes from those of today. We lived our lives among not much more than 20-30 other people at any one time, hunting and gathering our food, and occasionally moving from place to place. This lifestyle was so successful and adaptable it endured pressures from more complex societies well into the 20th century. Understanding what life was like in such these small-scale societies is important because the material and social world in which they lived is the foundation for societies where food production, social hierarchy, and occupational specialization are the norm. This course will examine both the ethnographic and archaeological record of hunter/foragers from around the globe in an attempt to understand how it proved to be such a versatile and resilient way of life and how its successes, in fact, laid the foundation for social inequality, complexity, and food production. Lecture 3 (Fall or Spring).
   ANTH-345
 Genocide and Transitional Justice
The destruction and survival of societies hinges on collective ideas of identity. In times of social stress, identities—whether racial, ethnic, religious or national—become critical “sites” of conflict over the sovereignty of nation-states, and the legitimacy of social, cultural practices. When ideas fail to incorporate people, essentialist categories of identity, historical grievances, and accounts of extreme violence become interrelated, potent sources of destruction. Slavery and exclusive ownership of resources leave people starving or living in perilously polluted environments. Global cultural economies threaten local systems and self-representation. In this course, we will take critical, anthropological approaches to studies of ethnocide, genocide and transitional justice. Students will assess the destruction and survival of societies, from the 19th century slaughter of Native Americans and Amazonian Indians to more recent genocides in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, the Sudan, Iraq, Myanmar, Bangladesh and China. Students will consider similarities and differences in the social experiences of mass violence, and the ethics of protecting particular identity-based groups, and not others, in international, national and local laws. Students will become familiar with multiple inter-related justice systems, for instance, the International Criminal Court, national and United Nations-backed tribunals, and local justice systems such as the Rwandan Gacaca courts. Recent developments in legal ethics and international law will enable students to see how public sentiments, legal advocacy and other social, political processes facilitate enhanced protections for the world’s most vulnerable people. Lecture 3 (Fall or Spring).
   ANTH-361
 Sociology of Numbers
Much of the knowledge of our social worlds has been digitized. This course explores how social technologies shape our relationships, personal lives, and sense of self. The metric manufacture of diversity has produced new forms of population management and inequality. Our biographic histories as citizens, consumers, workers/professionals, parents, lovers, and social media users are collected as data-bites and assessed in metric terms, thereby forging new sets of identities. The transformation of people into numerical entities is an act of statistical objectification. This process frames the creation of social and racial typologies, and is well demonstrated by the US census. Students will investigate the formation of racial, ethnic, and gender identities in the context of the accelerated desire to digitize humanity. Lecture 3 (Annual).
   ANTH-430
 Visual Anthropology
We see others as we imagine them to be, in terms of our values, not as they see themselves. This course examines ways in which we understand and represent the reality of others through visual media, across the boundaries of culture, gender, and race. It considers how and why visual media can be used to represent or to distort the world around us. Pictorial media, in particular ethnographic film and photography, are analyzed to document the ways in which indigenous and native peoples in different parts of the world have been represented and imagined by anthropologists and western popular culture. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
   SOCI-361 
 Sociology of Numbers
Much of the knowledge of our social worlds has been digitized. This course explores how social technologies shape our relationships, personal lives, and sense of self. The metric manufacture of diversity has produced new forms of population management and inequality. Our biographic histories as citizens, consumers, workers/professionals, parents, lovers, and social media users are collected as data-bites and assessed in metric terms, thereby forging new sets of identities. The transformation of people into numerical entities is an act of statistical objectification. This process frames the creation of social and racial typologies, and is well demonstrated by the US census. Students will investigate the formation of racial, ethnic, and gender identities in the context of the accelerated desire to digitize humanity. Lecture 3 (Fall or Spring).
   SOCI-395
 Borders: Humans, Boundaries, and Empires
Borders are more than walls; they are social constructions with real consequences. This course examines the creation and consequences of borders. It discusses how borders developed historically, how borders function as tools of population management in places and systems far from the borderlands, and the politics and experiences of border crossing. We will look for borders both between and within nation states when addressing these issues. The course will utilize a variety of materials including but not limited to scholarly sources, policy transcripts, popular cultural products (e.g. films and TV shows), and art (e.g. poetry, paintings). Students will play an active role in determining specific course topics, though they can expect to discuss a range of relevant issues including contemporary immigration politics, Indigenous rights, the war on terror, border disputes and armed conflicts, privatization of immigration management, displacement and segregation of domestic populations, and border activism. This course provides students with tools that ground and expand their understanding of borders, preparing them for participation in one of the most important public debates of our time. The purview of this course is relevant for those who aspire toward professions in public policy, law enforcement, public service, law, and community-organizing, among others. Seminar 3 (Fall, Spring).

* Course may be used when topic focuses on Mesoamerica or North America.

§ Course may be used when topic is relevant to minor.