Survival of Indigenous Art

Fall 2017
Winter 2018
Spring 2018
Class Size: 75
25% Reserved for Freshmen
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

education, Native and Latin American studies
Gary Peterson
social work
education, Native American studies, political science
visual arts, creative writing, poetry

How do indigenous people and their culture survive genocide? What did indigenous people choose to save when facing a holocaust? When the reality of ethnic cleansing is upon you as indigenous people, how do you secure the survival of your culture? In the 21st century, what are the elements of colonization and assimilation that continue to eliminate indigenous people and their culture? We will look at trends in laws; policy; and lived experiences of indigenous people in North American, the Ainu of Japan, the Quechua of Peru; as well as the ability of indigenous people to survive. Elements of indigenous art will be studied in terms of the history and culture of regions, intellectual property, gender norms, and visual sovereignty contrasted with intellectual and political sovereignty. Students will learn about the different ways indigenous communities have employed images and objects as links to history, identity, culture, function, and ceremony. Students will learn about the language of oppression as foundational information for understanding how the impacts of historical events still reverberate in marginalized communities today.

Art, art theory, and the making of art will be predominant during our program studies. We will work with textiles, basketry, and paper. Students will learn to create both hand-drawn and computer-generated stencils for use with photo-emulsion printing techniques. Students will create a conceptual body of work with an emphasis on professional editioning practices. Students will experience firsthand the therapeutic value of cultural art practices. Students will learn about reclaiming steps Tribes have taken to awaken and use sustaining practices that had been taken away in a civilizing effort by the United States and their allies.

We welcome students who do not identify as artists but have a deep interest in working with indigenous communities. The program will work toward developing different forms of literacies, including visual, cultural, and political. Lectures, films, readings, and student-led text-based seminars will compose the primary structures used by our learning community. Quarterly, students will complete an academic project related to the theme of the program and work in groups to prepare an arts activity for Generations Rising: Tribal Youth/Make Art day. Students will engage in service learning volunteer projects with Tribes preparing for the yearly paddle journeys. Participation in this program means practicing accountability to the learning community and other communities, as well as interacting as a respectful guest with other cultures and engaging in constant communication with co-learners.

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:

education, social work, tribal and nonprofit arts management, studio art, and indigenous art fields


Credits per quarter

Online learning:
  • No Required Online Learning - No access to web tools required. Any web tools provided are optional.

$75 per quarter for art project materials.

Internship Opportunities:

Internships related to social work are possible in winter and spring with faculty approval.

Class Standing: Freshman–Senior
Class Size: 75
25% Reserved for Freshmen

Scheduled for: Day

Final schedule and room assignments:

Advertised schedule:

First class meeting: Monday, September 25 at 9am (Longhouse 1007B)

Located in: Olympia