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Indigenous Studies (INST) 511

Indigenous Knowledge and Education


Revision 1 is closed for registrations, replaced by current version.

Delivery Mode: Grouped-study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Integrated Studies

Prerequisite: An undergraduate degree is required. Students will also need university-level analytical and communication skills.

Centre: Centre for World Indigenous Knowledge and Research


This course addresses Indigenous knowledge as a fundamental component of Indigenous education. Indigenous peoples have always had their own philosophies, understandings, teachings, and educational goals. Rigorous and deep-rooted, Indigenous intellectual traditions and the sharing of information was both formalized and localized. The methodologies, processes, and means to share this information were embedded in the everyday: life lessons were functional and required, taught from birth to death, and holistic.

Thus, a general, life-long education was a known and regularized practice. It taught people how to survive. But survival did not include just hunting, provisioning, and defence; survival meant passing on educational and philosophical tenets related to living together well, living a good life, and shared responsibilities and obligations among neighbours (in a Western tradition, those beings and things perceived as animate and inanimate).

The same processes through which philosophy was/is taught would be used to teach Indigenous citizens arts, politics, laws, and language. Storytelling, sharing circles, organized meetings, and ongoing training in the home through experiential learning were and are the pedagogic vehicles used to teach and transfer knowledge. This course will prepare the student to address Indigenous pedagogy and the construction of meaningful and accurate educational lessons for and about Indigenous peoples.

Course Goals

Upon successful completion of this course, students should be able to:

  1. provide geographical, political, cultural and social context related to Indigenous peoples in Alberta.
  2. define and describe traditional Indigenous pedagogies, ontological understandings.
  3. identify and develop culturally relevant and responsive educational tools and learning strategies.
  4. identify and describe cultural protocols in the context of responsibly accessing Indigenous Knowledge that will aid in the success of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.
  5. define and demonstrate an understanding of the applicability of holism in the context of responsible Indigenous education and information sharing.
  6. demonstrate an understanding of Indigenous knowledge, philosophies, and worldviews.
  7. compare and contrast learning techniques, educational understandings, teachings and oralities related to Indigenous learning process and success.
  8. identify cultural protocols integral to the respectful gathering, sharing and repetition of Indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing.
  9. enumerate how colonial policies, laws, events and understandings influenced traditional and contemporary Indigenous education.
  10. demonstrate understanding of how issues of colonialism, racism, prejudice, discrimination, stereotyping and bias towards Indigenous peoples and knowledge has impacted Indigenous education.
  11. demonstrate the capacity to analyze critically course readings and course experiences in order to arrive at an Indigenous respectful approach to Indigenous education(including the areas of pedagogy, ontology, information gathering and sharing).
  12. provide a framework for the provision of culturally relevant, community responsive and respectfully gathered information related to Indigenous worldviews.
  13. develop a toolbox of critical skills to enable the research, writing and development of Indigenous education materials that are reflective of Indigenous values, traditions, and teachings in order to facilitate student success.

Course Outline

INST 511 comprises the following eight units:

Unit 1: Introduction

Unit 2: The Blackfoot Peoples

Unit 3: The Neheyiwak (Cree) Peoples

Unit 4: The Metis Nation

Unit 5: The Dene Tha’ Peoples

Unit 6: Critical Indigenous Education

Unit 7: Applying the Knowledge

Unit 8: Conclusion


To receive credit for INST 511, you must achieve a minimum grade 60 per cent on each assignment, and an overall grade 60 per cent for the entire course. Students will complete eight assignments and earn a participation grade. The weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

Assignment 1: Lesson Plan     5%
Assignment 2: Book Review     5%
Assignment 3: A Brief History     5%
Assignment 4: Oral Tradition     5%
Assignment 5: Critical Education   10%
Assignment 6: Role of Indigenous-based Education   10%
Assignment 7: First Draft of Teaching Unit   10%
Assignment 8: Final Design of Teaching Unit   20%
Participation (Reflective Journal, Virtual Circle and optional activities)   30%
Total 100%

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

Course Materials

All course materials are available online. They include the units of the study guide, course outline and syllabus, online readings and support resources.

Special Course Features

Students will record weekly reflective journal entries and take part in virtual circle discussions. Live class meetings with invited speakers will be scheduled throughout the semester and delivered via Adobe Connect.

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

Last updated by G. Zahara  04/03/2019 15:07:15