IAIA - Institute of American Indian Arts

Course Descriptions

IDST101 Introduction to Indigenous Studies (3 credits)

Introduction to Indigenous Studies is an interdisciplinary course which addresses a number of issues confronting Indigenous people including identity, aesthetics and Indigenous knowledge. The focus of the course will be the experience of Indigenous people to the United States and Canada, although the world Indigenous experience will be referenced and discussed.

Students examine constructive and destructive uses of humor; racial and cultural stereotypes and how these stereotypes work as colonizing forces, and laughter as an instrument of cultural liberation, as well as humor in art, literature, and oral tradition.

IDST 202 Indigenous Perspectives on Knowledge (3 credits)

In this on-line course students learn how ways of knowing relate to cultural values and social power, while they compare Indigenous knowledge systems to those of the dominant (European) culture. Students examine the value of Indigenous knowledge, particularly its potential contribution to sustainable development, to the alleviation of poverty, and to cultural survival and renewal.

IDST204 Indigenous Perspectives of Place (3 credits)

In this on-line course students explore the nature of place and how different cultures conceive and orient themselves to it. As with all concepts, place doesn’t exist in isolation. It is clearly directly connected to space and location, but also to time, narrative, identity, knowledge, and movement.

IDST205 How Indians Made America: American History Before Columbus (3 Credits)

For five hundred years the first peoples of the Americas were seen as simple figures in a landscape, primitives in an untamed wilderness. The natural environment was pictured as almost entirely unaffected by the presence of the people who lived there. The people themselves were said to subsist on the edge of survival, deficient in culture, devoid of laws and institutions of governance, ignorant of science and natural laws. Modern scholarship and the accounts of the original inhabitants have shown this view to be completely mistaken. Far from being a pristine wilderness, the American environment, before the arrival of Europeans was constructed by Native American, through their agriculture, hunting and trading, their building and technology, their political institutions, their knowledge systems and intellectual achievement. The aim of this course is to bring that invisible historical reality back into focus. On-line course.

IDST206 Story Weaving: Ways of Knowing and Telling (3 credits)

This highly innovative course approaches the honored Indigenous traditions of Storytelling and Weaving (rugs, baskets, etc.) as tools for the preservation and transmission of knowledge (cultural, spiritual, ecological, astronomical, ethical, and historical). In addition, a special software tool called StoryWeaver has been developed especially for this course and will enable students (having minimal computer experience) to create new stories which incorporate text, image, maps, oral history, tribal stories, and the new media, including audio and video. On-line course.

IDST210 Indigenous Perspectives on Nature (3 credits)

This course explores the way different peoples and cultures experience and understand nature, especially the relationship between humans and the natural world, looking at a range of ideas and theories from both mainstream and Indigenous traditions of thought. This course is divided into two main sections: (1) The idea of Nature in Western and Indigenous Thought and (2) nature and the American Indian. On-line course.

IDST215 Indigenous Visual Studies (3 credits)

This course focuses on visual representation (photography, film, and hypermedia) both as a form of cultural documentation and as an exploration of unique visual worlds. Both the colonial project and Indigenous agency are presented as vantage points to understanding strategies of appropriation, commercialization and political representation. On-line course.

IDST230 Issues in Indian Education (3 credits)

A multi-disciplinary survey of major developments related to the education of Indigenous people in the US . Overview of pre-contact cultural, spiritual & utilitarian basis of knowledge transfer with comparisons to developing Euro-American public and federal education policy, legislation, programs and impacts. Special topics: tribal control, boarding schools, historical trauma, decolonization of education, alternative and best practice Indigenous strategies and local field experiences.

IDST 290 Internship I (1 to 6 credits)

Internships place students within existing organizations to learn directly from fellow employees, volunteers, clients and others. Internships provide valuable hands-on real world opportunities for student learning to deepen and strengthen classroom instruction and prepare students for professional careers in their chosen fields. Students report to workplace supervisors and fulfill workplace expectations to receive academic credit. All students keep a journal to document their learning. They will write a final reflective paper. Workplace supervisors will complete an evaluation form commenting on student’s learning in the workplace.

IDST295 Apprenticeship I (1 to 6 credits)

Apprenticeships place students in a direct one-on-one mentoring relationship with an elder, a master artist, or a cultural expert who is willing to share his or her expertise and experience with an IAIA student. The student is to provide assistance to the mentor on a specific project or undertaking. In this way, through observation and direct involvement, students will become familiar with new artistic processes, cultural practices and related approaches. All students keep a journal to document their learning. Each student will write a final reflective paper. Mentors will complete an evaluation commenting on student learning through this experience.

IDST301 American Indian Mapping: Configuring Space and Time

Native Americans found, explored and developed the Americas; to do so they created their own techniques for navigating and traveling. They had their own ways of knowing, representing, recording and talking of the environment and their passages through it. Just as they shaped the environment in their travels and explorations, so the environment shaped them, resulting in particular ways of configuring space and place, time and history. On-line course.

IDST390 Colloquia (1-3 credits)

The course provides a mechanism for exploring, in seminar form, a variety of topics and issues that impact major programs and individual disciplines. Different courses will be offered each semester depending on the availability of faculty and student interest.

(Prerequisites: IDST101; ENGL102, plus one 200 level course in an appropriate discipline)

IDST405 Postmodernism (3 credits)

Postmodernism is a survey of Western philosophy from the Renaissance through the period called Postmodern, with emphasis on changes in art, philosophy, literature and social critique since 1950. Commentary by Indigenous writers will be an important part of the course material. (Prerequisites: IDST101; ENGL102; two level of lecture class or permission of Instructor)

IDST451 Senior Seminar (3 credits)

The Senior Seminar is a course for seniors who are preparing for IDST499 Senior Project. This course focuses on developing research protocols for conducting the Senior Project. Students establish the form of research their Senior Project will take, develop data collection instruments and an annotated bibliography and secure necessary permissions to conduct their Senior Project. The final product of the course is a research protocol to guide the Senior Project. (pre-requisite: MUSM 320)

IDST 490 Internship II (1 to 6 credits)

Internships place students within existing organizations to learn directly from fellow employees, volunteers, clients and others. Internships provide valuable hands-on real world opportunities for student learning to deepen and strengthen classroom instruction and prepare students for professional careers in their chosen fields. Students report to workplace supervisors and fulfill workplace expectations to receive academic credit. All students keep a journal to document their learning. They will write a final reflective paper. Workplace supervisors will complete an evaluation form commenting on student’s learning in the workplace.

IDST495 Apprenticeship II (1 to 6 credits)

Apprenticeships place students in a direct one-on-one mentoring relationship with an elder, a master artist, or a cultural expert who is willing to share his or her expertise and experience with an IAIA student. The student is to provide assistance to the mentor on a specific project or undertaking. In this way, through observation and direct involvement, students will become familiar with new artistic processes, cultural practices and related approaches. All students keep a journal to document their learning. Each student will write a final reflective paper. Mentors will complete an evaluation commenting on student learning through this experience.

IDST499 Senior Project (3 credits)

The Senior Project is an experiential course for seniors only and will be either research based or community based (action research). The Senior Project will provide a mechanism for the student to produce a project that culminates the student’s experience at IAIA and reflects the student’s growth, leadership, and scholarship.