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American Indian Religions

The purpose of this course is to teach students about histories, sources, ways of knowing, politics, and ethical considerations that are valuable when seeking to understand Native American religious traditions. The course explores historical and contemporary Native traditions in what is today the United States. We will draw on theories from Religious Studies and Indigenous Studies, and utilize a range of methods, including historical, anthropological, and cultural studies approaches. Lectures, readings, discussions, and assignments will help to illuminate features of Native American traditions and situate them within important historical and political contexts. The course covers Native North American religious diversity, history, and contemporary practices. We will consider a number of issues: ethics, politics, practice, popular culture, self-determination, cultural appropriation, land rights, relationality, and environmentalism. We will both try to gain a big-picture look at themes and issues that affect many practitioners while examining case studies from specific Native nations.


This syllabus was created for the Young Scholars in American Religion program.

Sarah Dees

Iowa State University

Public College or University
Institution Type

Resource Type

Undergraduate Course, Seminar
Class Type

Date Published

Religious Studies, Other

Religous Tradition

Empire/Foreign Policy/Globalism, Politics/Law/Government, Race/Ethnicity

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