American Indian and Indigenous Studies Minor

Overview

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 and students majoring in sociology and anthropology who have chosen the cultural anthropology 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 American Indian and Indigenous Studies Minor

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-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-285
   American Indian Languages
With a focus on the indigenous languages of the Americas, we explore language contact among peoples, study various writing systems, and the sociolinguistic and cultural contexts in which these languages are spoken. Students learn how indigenous languages have been studied and classified. In addition to providing an overview of the languages' structural and typological attributes, we will also discover their histories as well as present-day challenges. Lecture 3 (Fall Or Spring).
   ANTH-335
   Culture and Politics in Latin America
This course introduces cultures of Latin America and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean in the context of political and economic forces that have shaped them. We examine Spanish and Portuguese colonialism and its modern-day legacies, including ethnic inequalities, economic vulnerability, and social unrest. We look at how art, music, and literature have engaged critically with the forces of fascism, revolution, socialism, dictatorship, and neo-colonialism. We consider indigenous activism, religious diversity, changing experiences and expectations of women and men, rebellion and revolution, impacts of and creative responses to globalization, and Latinos in the U.S. Lecture 3 (Fa/sp/su).
   ANTH-375
   Native American Cultural Resources and Rights
Indian nations have substantial interests in access to and control of their cultural resources. In addition to land, those resources may include objects, traditions, and symbols. Many of those interests may be treated under tribal, federal, and/or international law as forms of property (including access to sacred sites, possession of funerary objects, masks), intangible resources (such as intellectual property of tribal names, symbols, stories), and/or liberty interests (including religious freedom, preservation of tribal languages, customs, Indian arts and crafts). Classroom lectures will be supplemented with roundtable discussions and instructions by museum professionals, guest speakers, and Native American representatives. At the conclusion of the course, students will comprehend the breadth of federal legislation regulating tribal cultural resources as well as the complex legal and social issues facing museums, academic institutions, and the community. Lecture 3 (Fall Or Spring).
   ANTH-455
   Economics of Native America
This course will analyze current and historic economic issues faced by Native Americans. It will also examine government policies enacted by and directed toward Native Americans with a focus on their economic implications. This will be done using standard economic models of the labor market, poverty, trade, development, and gaming. Lecture 3 (Spring).
   INGS-455
   Economics of Native America
This course will analyze current and historic economic issues faced by Native Americans. It will also examine government policies enacted by and directed toward Native Americans with a focus on their economic implications. This will be done using standard economic models of the labor market, poverty, trade, development, and gaming. Lecture 3 (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-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-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
   Digitizing People
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 
   Digitizing People
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).
   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.