The Native Studies courses at Northwest Indian College range from 5 to 25 students. I usually see about 12 to 15 students in the course Reclaiming Our History. The course is lower-division. The course number is CSOV 120. Currently the class is taught twice a week for 2 hours. The online course will most likely meet during midterms and finals week face-to-face and the rest of the quarter will be online.
Expectations of External Groups
The society I will be addressing in this question consists of the larger Lummi community. Society expects these students to know how to write, to know who they are as Lummi people, and where they come from. Society expects these students to know where our original territory is and what their Lummi name was. Northwest Indian College is accredited through the NWAACU. This accreditation association expects Northwest Indian College’s work to lead toward fulfilling their mission. This will not affect this course because the NWIC Mission is, Through education, Northwest Indian College promotes Indigenous self-determination and knowledge. The course Reclaiming our History helps to fulfill that mission. The Native Studies program has a curriculum map that informs the institution of what Program Outcomes will be assessed in what courses and at what level of proficiency. This course will intend to meet Program Outcome #1: Skills of Leadership at the beginning level proficiency and emerging level of proficiency.
Nature of the Subject
I believe this course is convergent. It is a history course and the traditional knowledge of our people is not up for interpretation. There has been too much misinterpretation in the past. This course is primarily cognitive. There are some field trips that students have taken in the face-to-face modality. But if this course is redesigned as an online course it is unlikely that the faculty could plan field trips. I think Native Studies in general is always in a situation where competing paradigms are challenging each other. Through colonization, Indigenous knowledges have been seen as “less than”. And Western ways of knowing are always seen as the oldest forms of knowledge and superior. With this in mind, the reintroduction of Indigenous knowledges into education, even if the education is for their rightful owners, is met with some resistance. It really depends on the student and their beliefs.
Characteristics of the Learners
Most of the students at Northwest Indian College are full-time students and many have full-time jobs and families. In the last 2 or 3 years Northwest Indian College has seen an increase in traditional students, or students coming right out of high school. But in the past the student demographics were mainly non-traditional, older, and full-time employed students with families to support. If someone were to ask students at Northwest Indian College why they are in school, I could confidently say the 2 main answers would be 1) better their tribal community, and 2) find better employment to support their families. As an instructor of this course I am always surprised about how much knowledge Lummi students don’t have in this area. Very few students who have taken this course know traditional fishing methods or how to prepare native foods. And I see the same lack of knowledge in history lessons that are after the time of contact like early settlement of Whatcom County and the Treaty.
Characteristics of the Teacher
In order to teach this course the instructor needs to have a general knowledge base about the history of Lummi. The instructor also has to have a knowledge based about their own family history that is deeper than surface knowledge. The instructor has to have an understanding of Indigenous knowledge systems that existed and still exist today in Lummi. The online modality of this course will be new. There are no instructors that have taught it. I have a high level of competence around the topic. As the administrator of the Native Studies program I will ensure the next instructor is confident in their own knowledge base. I do have an instructor in mind. She is a recent graduate of the Native Studies bachelors degree. She currently does not have experience in teaching. But she does have some of the foundational knowledge base that is needed to teach this course.
Special Pedagogical Challenge
Students will begin to see the use of Indigenous knowledges in modern times as valuable to their lives. Students will no longer see our Indigenous history as strictly in the past. We still live it.