Native Pathways Program: Settler Colonialism Across North America (Tacoma)

Fall Open
Native Pathways - Tacoma
Class Standing
Sasha LaPointe

In the NPP: "Settler Colonialism Across North America," we will engage with the concept, theories, practice, and impacts of settler colonialism across North America, explore and compare/contrast western and Indigenous ways of knowing and being, and examine the big picture perspective of settler colonialism down to the smaller, place-based perspective, through an Indigenous lens. Historian and author, Patrick Wolfe, said that “settler colonizers come to stay: invasion is a structure not an event.” This idea that settler colonialization is a structure and not a singular event or series of events, provides the grounding for our work in this program. Settler colonialism permeates all ways of living in North America and is often visible within the systems we engage with but more than often is an insidious quasi-subliminal entity that infiltrates even the most acknowledged and mindful. Alicia Cox in the article "Settler Colonialism" introduces it as "an ongoing system of power that perpetuates the genocide and repression of indigenous peoples and cultures. Essentially hegemonic in scope, settler colonialism normalizes the continuous settler occupation, exploiting lands and resources to which indigenous peoples have genealogical relationships. Settler colonialism includes interlocking forms of oppression, including racism, white supremacy, heteropatriarchy, and capitalism" (2017). This program will be looking back at the land-base of North America (includes Canada and Mexico) and tracing the lines of invasion by answering the following: who invaded, where did they invade, who was originally at the invasion site, when (dates) did the invasion take place, what was the outcome initially and what happened to the original peoples and the land? By using the medicine wheel teaching method and guiding principles of spirit, body, mind (intellect), and heart (emotion), students will create a supportive, open-minded, and engaging learning community where all modes of inquiry are examined with respect and thoughtfulness. We will define and demonstrate understanding of Indigenous and Western Research Methodologies and Methods--when to use, how to use, why to use--and practice through developing a researched narrative, written and visually presented, that expands upon a chosen research question/topic and geographical area. Students will develop a multi-faceted, multi-layered timeline project of historical "invasions" during the settler colonization of North America as well as placements of Indigenous ancestral, familial, cultural, and other important dates. Weekly Discussion posts, assigned reading or video reflections, four rhetorical precis, an annotated bibliography, a research scaffold/proposal (traditional or innovative), and a critical analysis research project will be completed and turned in as a final portfolio. 

NPP curriculum is taught at all sites with the same core books/readings and two major assignments, but also allows for faculty/student innovation because the faculty are different at the "sites," thus bring their own classroom and teaching styles, interests, and experiences. Integrated Skills, including critical thinking and analysis, research and writing, public speaking, collaboration, personal authority, and Indigenous knowledge are taught across the curriculum, and during our NPP "House of Welcome" Longhouse weekend intensives, we can practice learned skills through group work, Native case studies, Native Jeopardy, and participating in NPP Student Governance. NPP is based within Native/Indigenous paradigm, intersecting Indigenous and western pedagogy, and is interdisciplinary. We are an inclusive program and learning community that promotes Indigenous scholarship, leadership, and as the late Mary Ellen Hillaire (first Native American, Lummi, woman to be hired at Evergreen in 1972) said in various forms and ways: "We are not here to study Indians..." and NPP uses this idea as a practice. We study the local and global world, through interdisciplinary Humanities (the study of the human experience) and through the Medicine Wheel teachings of how every person, place and thing is connected. The second part of the Hillaire saying is "...; we are Indians here to study," meaning that we honor all students and their right to choose when they want to be a teacher of their culture, and when they do not. Content advisory: we are exploring, questioning, and discussing horrendous acts such as genocide, enslavement, eradication, and termination of human beings; we are contemplating a history fraught with opposing ideologies; and although we are finding stories of survivance, hope, and beauty, this program, "Settler Colonialism Across North America," will undoubtedly be challenging for some so be aware that there will be no "trigger warnings," as the majority of this topic is layered with atrocities. 

16 credit students add a capstone/senior project on top of the core 12-credit program listed above. 

Students are expected to attend classes with their site faculty during the week on Tuesday and Thursday evenings 6-9:30pm and attend/participate in the NPP "House of Welcome" Longhouse Gatherings on SATURDAY/SUNDAY, September 30th and October 1st,  and SATURDAY/SUNDAY, November 4th and 5th, and for Presentations and Holiday Celebration SATURDAY/SUNDAY, December 2nd and 3rd. ALL SATURDAYS ARE 10AM - 5PM AND SUNDAYS ARE 10AM - 3PM WITH LUNCH DURING THE NOON-1PM HOUR.


Academic Details


$35 for NPP cultural meals and supplies


Hybrid (F)

See definition of Hybrid, Remote, and In-Person instruction

Evening and Weekend
Schedule Details
LONGHOUSE 1007A - Workshop
Native Pathways - Tacoma