Indigenous Studies (INST) 420

Indigenous Resistance (Revision 1)

INST 420 course cover

Revision 1 is closed for registrations, see current version

Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Sciences

Prerequisite: None

Centre: Centre for World Indigenous Knowledge and Research

INST 420 is not available for challenge.

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Welcome to Indigenous Studies 420: Indigenous Resistance, a three-credit, senior level course offered by Athabasca University. The purpose of this course is to give students a broad survey of the diverse forms of Indigenous resistance to colonialism by highlighting the perspectives of Indigenous Peoples themselves.

We begin by briefly examining pre-colonial Indigenous politics of contestation and their impact on Indigenous societies. We then explore colonization and contestation in an historical context, highlighting the defining moments of the past. Students will be introduced to social movement theory, and other western theories of group organizing and their applicability in a Canadian context with special emphasis on Indigenous Peoples. With this foundation, and using a broad definition of resistance (including language, spiritual, cultural, intellectual, and physical forms in addition to social movements), we then turn our attention to the various ways Indigenous Peoples have engaged in both individual and collective forms of resistance, again with examples from historical times to present day. This is further deepened with an examination of resistance in the academy by focusing on the post-colonial with particular emphases on Indigenous and decolonizing theorists. The course concludes by examining the Indigenous rights movement internationally and by highlighting the unique ways Indigenous women have contributed to Indigenous anti-colonial resistance and engagement.

INST 420 is an upper level Indigenous Studies course and as such, relies upon a number of readings by Indigenous scholars, activists, Indigenous Knowledge Holders and community leaders to broader students’ understandings of resistance. The first half of the course have more detailed background sections, in the later part of the course it is assumed that students now have a base of knowledge and these units rely heavily upon the reading assignments. The contemporary Indigenous Rights movement has also relied heavily upon the internet and students are asked to spend time exploring the websites suggested within the units.

The Student Manual contains essential information about the course design, the course materials, evaluation and grading procedures, and other information you will need to complete the course successfully. Before you begin your studies, please read this Student Manual carefully. If you have any questions about the course itself, or how to proceed with your studies, please contact the course tutor or course coordinator.


  • Unit 1: Introduction to the Course: Colonization and Contestation
  • Unit 2: Social Movement Theory and Indigenous Peoples
  • Unit 3: Defining Moments of the Past
  • Unit 4: Indigenous Organizing and Mobilization, 1950s – 1990s
  • Unit 5: Indigenous Peoples and Contemporary Acts of Resistance
  • Unit 6: Post Colonial Theory and Indigenous Experiences in Canada
  • Unit 7: Resistance in the Academy
  • Unit 8: Contesting Academy Disciplines
  • Unit 9: The International Movement for Indigenous Rights
  • Unit 10: Indigenous Women, Dissent and Mobilization


To receive credit for INST 420, you must hand in all of the required assignments, as outlined below. Assignment 1 is to be done when you finish Unit 2, etc. Complete the assignments in order. To receive credit for the course, you must achieve a grade of at least D (50 percent).

Activity Weighting
Assignment 1 15%
Assignment 2 15%
Assignment 3 15%
Assignment 4 15%
Assignment 5 15%
Final Essay 25%
Total 100%

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Lighting the Eighth Fire: The Liberation, Resurgence and Protection of Indigenous Nations, 2008, Leanne Simpson, ed., Arbeiter Ring Publishing, Winnipeg, MB.

Other Materials

Your course materials contains a student manual, internet sources, study guide, and reading file. All other materials are available online.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 1, December 14, 2012.