American Indian and Indigenous Studies

What can an American Indian and Indigenous Studies course do for you?

It can make you uniquely competitive as a multidisciplinary thinker.


SPRING 2017 Course Roster

AIS 1110 – Indigenous Issues in Global Perspectives

Professor Troy Richardson | MW 11:15AM - 12:05PM | Cross-list: AMST 1601

This course attends to the contemporary issues, contexts and experiences of Indigenous peoples. Students will develop a substantive understanding of colonialism and engage in the parallels and differences of its histories, forms, and effects on Indigenous peoples globally. Contemporary Indigenous theorists, novelists, visual artists and historians have a prominent place in the course, highlighting social/environmental philosophies, critical responses to and forms of resistance toward neocolonial political and economic agendas and the fundamental concern for Indigenous self-determination, among other topics.

Distribution Category (CA-AG, D-AG, HA-AG)

AIS 4000/ 6000 – Critical Approaches to American Indian Studies: Intellectual History

Professor Troy Richardson | W 1:25PM - 4:25PM

An interdisciplinary survey of the literature in Native American Studies. Readings engage themes of indigeneity, coloniality, power, and "resistance." The syllabus is formed from some "classic" and canonical works in Native American Studies but also requires an engagement with marginal writings and theoretical and historical contributions from scholars in other disciplines.

Critical Approaches to American Indian Studies is designed to engage the contemporary moment in American Indian/Indigenous Studies. It takes up three current issues/questions circulating in the broad field as they have been developed in the last decade – Indigenous epistemologies and knowledge production, political philosophy and tribal nation sovereignty and Indigenous research methodologies. Moreover, the course works to interrogate if and in what ways these overlapping discussions of Indigenous intellectuals constitutes a “decolonizing discourse” in higher education, research practices and/or the political imaginary. With these questions, the course provides multiple entry points for students from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds to engage with and make contributions to the rich field of American Indian Studies. While there are no prerequisites, as an upper level course it assumes students bring some familiarity with the history of the field and some of the leading figures, movements and texts. Key authors include – Leanne Simpson, Dale Turner, Glen Coulthard, Linda Smith, among others.

Distribution Category (CA-AG, HA-AG)

AIS 4200/ 6200 – Locke and the Philosophies of Dispossession: Indigenous America’s Interruptions and Resistances 

Professor Troy Richardson | M 1:25PM - 4:25PM | Cross-list: AMST 4200/6200, PHIL 4941/6941

This course looks at the philosopher John Locke as a philosopher of dispossession. There is a uniquely Lockean mode of missionization, conception of mind and re-formulations of the 'soul' applied to dispossess Indigenous peoples of the social institutions, intellectual traditions and the material bases and practices which sustain(ed) them. While colonization is typically used as a kind of shorthand for this process, we will be attempting to stay focused on the specific dimensions of Lockean dispossession and its mutually informing relationship with English colonialism.

Recommended prerequisites: AIIS 1110 and AIIS 4000/AIIS 6000.

AIS 4970 - Independent Study


The American Indian Program office must approve independent study forms. Students from all colleges must submit a CALS Special Studies form available online. Topic and credit hours TBA between faculty member and student.

AIS 6970 - Independent Study in American Indian Studies


A student may, with approval of a faculty advisor, study a problem or topic not covered in a regular course or may undertake tutorial study of an independent nature in an area of interest in American Indian Studies.

AIS 4771/6771 – Indigenous Art, Film and New Media: Anti-Colonial Strategies

Professor Jolene Rickard | T 12:20PM-2:15PM | Cross-list: AMST, ANTHR, COML 4771/6771

This course examines Indigenous art, new media and film from three distinct interrelated perspectives of aesthetics/theory, technology and history/culture. The relationship between technology and tradition reevaluates established assumptions between representation, power and the gaze. Decolonizing methodologies will establish the translatability of Indigenous oral tradition to visual expression as a form of cultural agency. The use of media as a cultural and political intervention will be discussed through the work of Hopi filmmaker, Victor Masayesva, Inuit filmmaker, Zacharias Kunuk, the Kayapo Media Collective, Aboriginal artist, Tracy Moffat, new media artist; Mohawk, Skawanati, Maori photographer, John Miller and more. The construction, circulation, and reception of Indigenous visual culture will be discussed within a transnational, diasporic and global frame.

ENGL 2605: Cannibals, Vampires, Colonizers, and Other Fearsome Figures in Indigenous Literature

Professor Carol Warrior | TR 2:55PM - 4:10PM

In readings for this course, we’ll examine Indigenous depictions of voracious beings, the relationships these fearsome figures attempt to disrupt, and the means by which protagonists fight their demons. Through the lens of several theoretical frameworks, and a sampling of short stories, novels, ethnographies, historical readings, and films—this course will examine how Native American authors continue a long-established practice of critiquing social and environmental imbalance through anxiety-inducing characters who threaten communities, ecosystems, and life itself.

  • Identify protagonists, antagonists, villains, fearsomeness, and how worldview, history, and context shape them.
  • Understand the role audience plays in making meaning, especially for Native American literature.
  • Learn and practice literary Inquiry techniques in general, and for Indigenous literature in particular.
  • Locate and describe the issues central to the critique embedded in Indigenous literary depictions of fearsomeness.


ENGL 4665: Indigenous Fantasy and Futurisms

Professor Carol Warrior | T 12:20PM - 2:15PM

Native futurist writers represent “contact” as apocalypse, Indigenous conceptions of time as slipstream, Indigenous science as the inspiration for technological innovation in their narratives, and futures rooted in traditional Indigenous medicines, non-binary/non-static genders, and expansive concepts of “personhood.” Through novels, short-stories, mixed-media, film, and critical / theoretical readings, students will explore how Indigenous futurism inher.

 Radically subverting the “Vanishing Indian” myth, Indigenous authors depict Indigenous peoples thriving in many possible futures. Although Indigenous speculative fiction is nothing new, we’re currently seeing a new flush of Indigenous fantasy and futurism that combines Native conceptions of the universe and non-linear space-time with Indigenous and western technologies. Through revising generic conventions, Native authors overturn the closure of western conquest narratives while drawing on ancient beliefs and practices to ensure balanced, inter-relational survival—not only of human beings, but other-than-human persons, too. We will examine how these texts, hypertexts, films, games, and multimedia projects disavow the long-established sci-fi and fantasy tropes that place Indigenous peoples in the role of the “alien” that invades domestic space, or, conversely, the “alien” objects of “discovery” and invasion.

  • For upper-division students
  • Indigenous strategies of subverting the usual racism in sci-fi and fantasy genres
  • Useful for students who want to engage with Indigenous literary theory and criticism
  • Focuses on Indigenous genres that “imagine otherwise”