Northern Indigenous Peoples

and Contemporary Issues



Fall 2013 – Monday 6-9 pm

Bunnell 301a


David Koester

Bunnell 307B, 474-7133,

Office hours – Monday 2-4

TA:  Tayana Arakchaa



The objectives of this course are to learn about how the issues of the contemporary world are affecting and being addressed by indigenous communities in the North.  Most of the course will consist of discussions and writing assignments dealing with the questions and problems indigenous people in the Northern regions are facing and the actions being taken to address these issues. Students will be expected to discuss the required reading for each class period in light of examples from readings and/or experience.  In some cases, discussion questions will be handed out or posted on Blackboard a week in advance.


Course Goals:

Š       To better understand how important global problems are being perceived and acted upon in northern indigenous communities

Š       To gain an understanding of the main issues faced commonly by northern indigenous peoples

Š       To trace how the legacy of colonial policies continue to factor into problems and issues confronting northern indigenous peoples today

Š       To learn about how anthropologists and other social scientists have conducted research in relation to these issues





WEEK 1 -September 9 – Introduction –

Discussion:  World contemporary issues and indigenous peoples


WEEK 2 – September 16 – Identity, Tradition ad Cultural Revitalization  

Clifford – Anthropology and Native Heritage in Alaska, Current Anthropology 2004 45(1):5-30

Mason – Whither the Historicities of Alutiiq Heritage Work Are Drifting, pp. 77-96, in  Indigenous Cosmopolitans

Dauenhauer and Dauenhauer – Evolving concepts of Tlingit Identity and Clan, pp. 253-278, in Coming to Shore


WEEK 3 - September 23 – Environment and Global Climate Change

Guest speaker:  Jose Aguto, FCNL

Cruikshank – Glaciers and Climate Change, Arctic 377-393

Nickels et al. – Putting the Human Face on Climate Change Through Community Workshops:  Inuit Knowledge, Partnerships and Research, pp. 301-333, in The Earth is Faster Now

Vitebsky – From cosmology to environmentalism, pp. 182-203, in Counterworks

HunnHuna Traditional Environmental Knowledge, Conservation and the Management of a “Wilderness” Park, Current Anthropology 2003 44(Supp):79-103


WEEK 4 - September 30 – Indigenous Knowledge, Language Revitalization and Education

Guest:  Hishinlai

Harper - Inuit Writing Systems in Nunavut, pp. 154-168, in Nunavut:  Inuit Regain Control of their Lands and their Lives

            The following can all be found at:

Fryer – Including indigenous culture and language in higher education:  The case of the Komi republic

Kim – The problems of preserving the language and culture of Selkups

Jääsalmi-KrügerKhanty language and lower school education:  Native, second or foreign language?

Nelson – First Nations education in the Greater Victoria District, B.C.

Iutzi-Mitchell – Political economy of Eskimo-Aleut languages in Alaska:  Prospects for conserving cultures and reversing language shift in schools


WEEK 5 – October 7 – Intellectual and Cultural Property

DUE:  Short abstract and projected bibliography for final paper

Kitchens – Insiders and Outsiders:  The Case for Alaska Reclaiming its Cultural Property

            The following can all be found at:

Thuen – Culture as Property?  Some Saami Dilemmas

Wiget and Balalaeva – Culture, Commodity and Community:  Developing the Khanty-Mansi Okrug Law on Protecting Native Folklore

Bodenhorn – Is Being “Really IĖupiaq” a Form of Cultural Property

Hann – Epilogue:  The Cartography of Copyright Cultures versus the Proliferation of Public Properties


WEEK 6 – October 14 – Salmon and other marine resources

Guest (not confirmed):  Ben Colombi

Colombi and Brooks, eds.  Keystone Nations, pp. 25-206


WEEK 7 - October 21 – Rights, Sovereignty and the Indigenous Movement(s)

Lehtola – The Altá Chronicle, pp. 76-85

Koester – Global Movements and Local Historical Events:  Itelmens of Kamchatka Appeal to the United Nations American Ethnologist 32(4):642-659. 2005

Blackburn - Searching for Gurarantees in the Midst of Uncertainty:  Negotiating Aboriginal Rights and Title in British Columbia  AA 107(4):586-596

Korsmo – Claiming Memory in British Columbia:   Aboriginal Rights and The State, pp. 119-134, in Contemporary Native American Political Issues

Kulchyski – An Essay Concerning Aboriginal Self-Government in Denendeh and Nunavut, pp. 229-273, in Like the Sound of a Drum

Kusugak – The Tide has Shifted:  Nunavut Works for us, and it offers a lesson to the broader global community, pp. 20-28 in Nunavut:  Inuit Regain Control of their Lands and their Lives


WEEK 8 –October 28 Indigenous Issues in Tuva and Sakha

Instructor:  Tayana Arakchaa

Guest speaker:  Stefan Krist

Oelschlägel – Summary of “Plural World Interpretations:  The Case of the Tyvans in South Siberia”

Humphrey – Attitudes to nature in Mongolia and Tuva:  a preliminary report

Reading TBA


WEEK 9 – November 4  - Economic Development – Labor, Commerce and Capitalism

Dombrowski – Against Culture, pp. 19-111

Additional reading TBA


WEEK 10 – November 11 – Urbanization, Transnationalism and Globalization

Argounova-Low – Close Relatives and Outsiders:  Village People in the city of Yakutsk, Siberia

Tomiak and Patrick – Transnational Migration and Indigeneity in Canada:  A Case Study of Urban Inuit

Lee – The Cooler Ring:  Urban Alaska Native Women and the Subsistence Debate

Kishigami – Homeless Inuit in Montreal


WEEK 11 – November 18 – Open Topic (left over, residual, emergent, etc.)

Readings or film TBA


WEEK 12 – November 25 – Technology and Media

SŅrensen – The Inuit Broadcasting Corporation and Nunavut, pp. 170-177, in Nunavut:  Inuit Regain Control of their Lands and their Lives

Santo – Act locally, sell globally:  Inuit media and the global cultural economy

Pietikainen – Broadcasting Indigenous Voices:  Sami Minority Media Production



WEEK 13 – December 2 – Religious Movements, Religious Rights

DombrowskiAgainst Culture, pp. 115-139

Laugrand and Oosten – Reconnecting People and Healing the Land: Inuit Pentecostal and Evangelical Movements in the Canadian Eastern Arctic, Numen 54:229-269, 2007

Plattet – Sick of Shamanizing, Civilisations 61(2):69-88


WEEK 14 – December 9 – Presentations of Final Papers

No reading



REQUIREMENTS:  participation in class discussion, one issue briefings (written and presented in class); one reading report; a final paper


Class participation and response to reading questions (20%)

Issue briefing (20%) 

Final Paper (60%)


The issue briefing is an exercise in synthesizing approaches to and perspectives on a particular issue.  One might, for example, take the issue of managing heritage and examine the differing implications, conundrums and paradoxes of heritage work.  You can use the title of the week’s readings or focus on a part of the topic area indicated in the title.  Your class presentation for the issue briefing should be about 20 minutes long.   You should also turn in a written version of your presentation.  Please do not, however, read your written text as your presentation. 


The final paper can be on a topic of your choosing related to the themes of the course.  You should use the topic themes of the syllabus as a guideline, but you may propose to work on any contemporary issue and northern indigenous people’s engagement with that issue.  The paper should be approximately 20 pages long, double spaced.  A paper proposal – title (or idea), abstract or outline and projected bibliography – is due on October 7.