First Nations Studies is an interdisciplinary degree program that reflects the holistic world view of the indigenous people of Turtle Island (North America), providing a non-western approach to teaching and learning within the academy. First Nations Studies is committed to the study of First Nations culture, philosophy, history, language, and the social, economic, and political status of First Nations people and their communities. The program is designed to preserve and promote the sovereign identity of the indigenous people of North America, with an emphasis on the nations of the western Great Lakes. First Nations Studies incorporates the teaching and learning approaches of tribal people, offering students a new way to learn within the academy. The program places emphasis on the indigenous oral tradition as preserved and shared by tribal Elders. Students take part in oral traditional learning experiences within the university classroom and, also, in tribal communities learning from tribal people. The Oneida Language Project is central to the program offering beginning and advanced courses in Oneida language in conjunction with the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin's language revitalization efforts.
Objectives and Student Outcomes
The learning objectives and student outcomes for First Nations Studies at UW Green Bay reflect the Standards for Instruction, Teacher Qualifications, and Course Content created and passed by the UW System American Indian Studies Consortium. These standards are included in Attachment E. In our description here, we acknowledge our colleagues in the American Indian Studies program at UW Eau Claire for providing us a model and for allowing us to draw upon their work. Our academic objectives and student outcomes are the following:
To present First Nations knowledge from an indigenous perspective, placing emphasis on the oral tradition, Elder epistemology, and oral scholars. Thus, information and knowledge reflect traditional (pre-contact) tribal protocols, whereby stories, images, objects, and artifacts are treated respectfully and not simply used for the convenience of students and faculty.
To teach First Nations Studies core knowledge while reflecting a holistic tribal world view, a world view which includes the concept of sacred or spiritual practice. First Nations Studies core knowledge is organized into Four Pillars of Learning. Courses in FNS reflect the Four Pillars: History (precontact, contact, contemporary periods), Sovereignty, Laws and Policies, Indigenous Philosophy and Intellectual Traditions.
To maintain and promote tribal oral knowledge in the traditional way of learning and interacting by working in tribal communities in the time-honored way of providing service through the use of skills and knowledge including acceptable research, scholarship, and useful publications.
To build and support collaborative relationships between tribal communities with particular emphasis on the nations in northeastern Wisconsin - Oneida, Menominee, and Mohican Nations.
To provide students with oral traditional teaching and learning opportunities in the classroom and within a tribal setting.
To provide suitable instruction, information and process to students and instructors of students in other disciplines in an effort to fulfill the requirements of Act 31.
Oral Tradition & Elder Knowledge
- Students will work with Elders in a tribal setting.
- Students will demonstrate oral traditional learning, listening, and remembering skills.
- Students will demonstrate the tribal values of respect, reciprocity, relationship, and responsibility.
- Students will take part in and demonstrate an understanding of Elder epistemology.
- Students will demonstrate protocols for learning and working in a tribal setting.
- Students will take part in participatory learning and will discuss the form and function of this traditional teaching/learning approach.
History - Precontact, Contact, Contemporary Eras
- Students will demonstrate an understanding of First Nations history in each of the three eras – precontact, contact, and contemporary.
- Students will demonstrate an in-depth developed historical awareness of the history of one nation in Wisconsin.
- Students will draw upon the oral tradition in the study of history.
- Students will use electronic and written sources in their study of history.
- Students will identify the political, economic, and social status of First Nations in each of the three historical eras.
- Students will define and understand precontact tribal sovereignty.
- Students will explain the erosion and persistence of tribal sovereignty after contact.
- Students will explain the federal trust relationship in the context of treaty-making.
- Students will demonstrate an understanding of ways to promote and protect tribal sovereignty.
- Students will understand and demonstrate personal sovereignty.
Laws and Policies
- Students will understand and explain the major formal (congressional acts, court cases) and informal policies that make up the body of First Nations law.
- Students will provide a critical analysis of the major formal and informal policies in #1 above.
- Students will understand the powers and limitations of contemporary tribal governments.
- Students will use electronic and written materials in their examination of laws and policies.
Indigenous Philosophy and Intellectual Traditions
- Students will demonstrate an understanding of Elder epistemology in the oral tradition.
- Students will learn in a tribal community setting.
- Students will demonstrate an understanding of First Nations philosophical teachings.
- Students will demonstrate an awareness of American Indian historical and contemporary intellectuals.
- Students will demonstrate an understanding of First Nations values and their expression in a cultural context.
- Students will explain internalized oppression and approaches to decolonization.
- Students will identify the major language families on Turtle Island and explain how languages change over time.
- Students will understand the importance of language and cultural revitalization efforts.
- Students will demonstrate some acquisition of a First Nations language.
- Students will engage in language acquisition in a tribal setting.