Indigenous Nations Studies class on field trip at beach

9 courses to learn about Native American and Indigenous communities

Native American Heritage Month kicked off Nov. 1, and the month-long celebration is a time to celebrate, honor and reflect on the sacrifices and contributions of Indigenous people who have been on this land since time immemorial. It’s also an opportunity to commit to continuing your learning journey beyond November — and Portland State offers plenty of courses and programs, where you can take a deep dive into Native American history, culture, politics and contemporary issues. 

PSU was the first school in Oregon to offer a major in Indigenous Nations and Native American Studies. New this year is an Indigenous Traditional Ecological & Cultural Knowledge certificate, a first-of-its-kind program in our state and region, and Public Health Studies: Indigenous Health, the nation’s only undergraduate concentration that centers learning about health equity and public health from Indigenous peoples.

Here are nine courses offered in winter term that focus on Native American and Indigenous peoples and communities.

Native American-Settler Relations (ANTH 313U)

This course examines the contacts, entanglements, exchanges and frictions between Native Americans and colonialist settler populations, including issues of decolonization, social and cultural change and persistence, and shifting governmental policies. (Online)

Intro to Native American Studies (NAS 201)

A great introduction to Native American studies, topics include understanding traditional cultures and languages and their significance for contemporary native peoples; the political and legal status of Native Americans in the United States and at the U.N.; contemporary native communities and tribal governments; Native American literature, art, music, dance, both contemporary and traditional. (Hybrid)
*Fulfills Race & Ethnic Studies Requirement (domestic)

Indigenous Gardens and Food Justice (NAS 342)

This course examines impacts of colonization on local/traditional foods and health; ethnobotany; and revitalization practices of Indigenous land, water and food sovereignty. You’ll have an opportunity to partner with Native American communities on-site design and implementation of edible/medicinal gardens and participate in restoration and creative place-based projects on public lands. (Hybrid)

Indigenous Philosophy (NAS 351U)

This course examines historical and contemporary indigenous philosophical writings on decolonization, epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics, with possible topics including Indigenous perspectives on sovereignty, proper human relationships with the land, waters, and animals, communication through storytelling, language, and dance, and gender-sexual identity. (Online)
*Fulfills Race and Ethnic Studies Requirement (domestic) 

Indigenous Ways of Knowing (NAS 392)

This course presents a basic worldview of Indigenous peoples identifying useful concepts, terms, intellectual frameworks and strategies in their struggles toward liberation and self-determination. Combining feminist, anti-racist theory and tribal critical race theory, this course explores Indigenous philosophy as a means to transform a Eurocentric consciousness. (Hybrid)

Horror and Indigeneity (NAS 410)

In recent years, Indigenous writers and filmmakers in the United States and Canada have increasingly embraced the horror genre, radically re-inscribing horror’s conventions in order to narrate Indigenous peoples’ historic and ongoing experiences under settler-colonialism. In this class, you will analyze Indigenous and non-Indigenous horror texts from a variety of perspectives, time periods, and mediums. Through synchronous discussions of readings and films, we will review the history of Indigenous representation in the horror genre so that we may learn to identify and interpret the ever-changing, culturally contingent concepts of horror, monstrosity, and otherness. (In-person)

Justice in Public Health: The Epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Peoples (PHE 315)

This course investigates the Missing Murdered Indigenous Women and People epidemic through a multi-layered decolonizing framework. You will study theory and praxis centered around historical trauma from colonization, the long-term effects of colonialism, and the social and system-level responses that serve to further disempower Indigenous women and girls and perpetuate the ongoing cycle of colonial violence against them. You will also study critical healing and strengths-based approaches drawn from Indigenous values, experiences, and perspectives to address this critical issue. (Online)

Native American Psychological Values (PSY 410)

Learn psychological cultural values to be applied in understanding the behavior of Native American Indian People and become aware of cultural values that are currently being demonstrated in the Native American community. (Online)

Indigenous Language Activism (UNST 421)

This capstone partners with endangered language communities in the Northwest (tribal language programs in general and the Warm Springs Tribal Language Program, specifically) to develop language and/or pedagogical materials that will support the endangered language programs/teachers in their work to offer language classes in their communities. (Online)




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