Decolonization across the Medicine Line: Comparative Indigenous politics in Canada and the U.S.



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This course explores the tangled colonial histories of the US and Canada, paying particular attention to Indigenous-settler relations. The primary text for the course is The Inconvenient Indian : A Curious Account of Native People in North America by Thomas King. In addition, this course engages with Indigenous people engaged in radical resurgent practice in order to understand and appreciate liberatory practices within Indigenous nations to disentangle from the settler state.

Part 1 of the course is a close reading of the Inconvenient Indian, a text that weaves the curiously circular tale of the relationship between non-Natives and Natives in the centuries since the two first encountered each other. In the process, King refashions old stories about historical events and figures, takes a sideways look at film and pop culture, relates his own complex experiences with activism, and articulates a deep and revolutionary understanding of the cumulative effects of ever-shifting laws and treaties on Native peoples and lands.

The Inconvenient Indian is at once a "history" and the complete subversion of a history--in short, a critical and personal meditation about what it means to be "Indian" in North America. In the second half of the course students engage with Indigenous knowledge keepers to understand the ways that contemporary Indigenous nations are participating in liberatory practices of decolonization including projects aimed at restoring health to land and people within a variety of Indigenous nations.


Fall 2021