This course introduces students to the Indigenous cultures of the Northwest Coast, extending from Southeast Alaska down along the coastlines of British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon. This area of the United States and Canada is home to many distinct Indigenous societies whose histories and cultures have continually shaped and enriched this richly diverse and complex region.
Issues and topics covered in this course are the potlatch tradition, the guardian spirit complex, artistic expression, food sovereignty, environmental justice, and treaty fishing/whaling rights. We will conduct a comprehensive study of the annual Tribal Canoe Journeys, which has become a symbol of Indigenous cultural resurgence through the reaffirmation of lifeways and a reawakening of the canoe tradition. We will participate in one day of Tribal Journeys where students will experience the cultural sharing of traditional foods, songs, dances, and stories, and participate in activities that enhance their understanding and respect for Indigenous cultural traditions and environmental justice issues.