By ISABELLA BOURQUE
There are so many misconceptions when it comes to Indigenous people and our heritage. Having the advantage of taking Indigenous courses here at Augustana is inherent to understanding a lot of our history, as well as the realities we face today. Taking part in Indigenous classes helps to spread awareness about our peoples that, though it is unfortunate, many Canadian citizens just aren’t aware of. You wouldn’t believe how many times I have heard ignorant assumptions about First Nations, Inuit, and Metis Peoples – that we still live in igloos, that we don’t have electricity in our communities, or that TV and wifi are totally unheard of where we come from. You wouldn’t believe how many times my friends and I have heard, “So, how native are you?” …I don’t know about you, but I don’t go around asking people of European descent, “So, just how Irish are you?” as if a percentage makes you any less apart of the culture you identify with. You would be surprised that we, Indigenous people of all skin tones and hair colours, sometimes get asked, “So… what do the ‘real’ native people think of you? … because you’re not, like, full Indian,” (when referring to us ‘light-skinned’ or Metis Indigenous people) – well, Sharon, you’re only part Scottish so like, what do ‘real’ Scottish people think of you? We are all people, aren’t we? And I don’t mean to ruffle any feathers or insult anyone, but before you ask us about how the colour of our skin or what percentage ‘native’ we are, consider asking the question to yourself and see how that feels.
Whether you are Indigenous or not, consider that these Indigenous Studies classes are something you should subscribe to. Indigenous Studies courses are a great way to gain experiential knowledge and hands-on learning outside of the classroom (hint – if you need a break from primarily lecture based classes, you should check out an IND course)! A class like Erin Sutherland’s AUIND 240, that teaches you how to tan a hide and is based around kitchen-table theory (pssst – that means you eat a lot of food in the class), really helps to build a sense of community while learning actual things about Indigenous groups. Who wouldn’t want an interactive learning space? It’s only the best thing ever and makes class actually fun to go to! Plus, if you really don’t know anything about Canada’s Indigenous people or if you want to know more about the history of Canada (because Indigenous people are the history of Canada, *cough cough*) these classes are a safe and welcoming space to integrate yourself into a world of knowledge. If you’re weary and unsure, start with an introductory level course like AUIND 101/201! Or, if you want to be educated about what’s really going on with our peoples, and you maybe want to help refute some common misconceptions like “Native people get all their schooling paid for, how lucky is that?” or “I heard Metis is now the same as like, full status Indians so they’re all good now,” then please, get yourself to an AUIND class, educate yourself, and then help to educate others! Take it upon yourself to also help support the Indigenous students around you, ask questions, and don’t be shy about participating in some of the workshops available to you, whether that be signing up to take part in the Workshops in Building Capacity for Truth and Reconciliation or learning how to make moccasins! The moral of this story: Ignorance is not bliss. We are the future and Indigenous education for everyone will help us make the future a better place to be.
List of AUIND courses offered at Augustana:
- AUIND 101/201 – Introduction to Indigenous Studies
- AUIND 240 – Introduction to Indigenous Cultural Production
- AUIND 300/400 – Selected Topics in Indigenous Studies
- AUIND 367/467 – The Fur Trade
- AUIND 370/470 – Oral History
- AUIND 390/490 – Directed Studies in Indigenous Studies
- AUIND 399/499 – Theories in Indigenous Studies
*Note that there are other courses outside of Indigenous Studies (AUIND) that incorporate Indigenous material, however only AUIND courses are included here to give you a general idea of the solely Indigenous based classes that are offered.