Indigenous Studies (INST) 203

Indigenous Studies I (Revision 3)

INST 203 course cover

Delivery Mode: Individualized study online (with eTextbook)

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Science

Prerequisite: None

Precluded Course: INST 203 may not be taken for credit if credit has already been obtained for NTST 200 or INST 200.

Centre: Nukskahtowin

INST 203 has a Challenge for Credit option.

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This course introduces the historical, anthropological, sociological, and political science perspectives on the origins and implications of major federal and provincial government policies bearing on Aboriginal peoples. The course analyses, in broad terms, the history of Aboriginal-European relations from the beginning of contact between the two groups to the current time. The course introduces the principle legal and statutory documents, such as treaties, the Indian Act, the British North America Act of 1867, and the Constitution Act of 1982, that form the basis of Canadian state policies towards Indigenous peoples.


The primary aim of Indigenous Studies 203 is to provide you with a theoretical and descriptive framework for understanding the historical and contemporary issues surrounding Indigenous peoples in Canada. As you work through the course, you will acquire critical, analytical, and practical skills that will service you well in this and other courses.

When you have completed Indigenous Studies 203, you should be able to:

  • discuss the anthropological, political, and sociological concepts currently used in academic discussions analyzing contemporary Indigenous - non Indigenous relations in Canada.
  • analyse the main legal and statutory documents that form the basis of Canadian federal and provincial government policies for Aboriginal peoples.
  • analyse the impact of Canadian government policies on Aboriginal cultures.
  • discuss how different contexts affect the meaning of terminology used to describe Aboriginal people in Canada, and how these contexts can change over time.
  • analyse the response of Aboriginal leaders and organizations to challenges posed by loss of Aboriginal independence, and by non-Aboriginal governments’ attempts to assimilate Indigenous peoples.
  • analyse Indian treaties and Aboriginal rights as defined by Aboriginal people and by the Canadian judicial system.
  • discuss the emergence of the Métis as an Aboriginal ethnic group, and its role in shaping provincial and federal government policies in Canada.


Unit 1: Identity: Social, Political, Psychological, and Legal Consequences

  • Section 1: The Indian Act and Racial Categorization
  • Section 2: The Indian Act and Indian Women
  • Section 3: Terminology and Identity

Unit 2: Indian Treaties

  • Section 1: Background to Indian Treaties
  • Section 2: The Royal Proclamation of 1763 and Subsequent Unnumbered Treaties
  • Section 3: The Meaning of Treaties
  • Section 4: The Numbered Treaties, 1871-1923
  • Section 5: Indian Understanding of Treaty Terms

Unit 3: The Métis: The Emergence and Status of an Aboriginal Group

  • Section 1: What's in a Name? The Emergence of the Métis
  • Section 2: Indian Women and the Emergence of the Métis
  • Section 3: The Political Emergence of the Métis


To receive credit for INST 203, you must achieve a course composite grade of at least D (50 percent) and a grade of at least 50 percent on the final examination. The weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

Activity Weighting
Assignment 1 15%
Assignment 2 20%
Assignment 3 25%
Final Exam 40%
Total 100%

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

Course Materials


Registration in this course includes an electronic textbook. For more information on electronic textbooks, please refer to our eText Initiative site.

Frideres, J.S., & Gadacz, R.R. (2012). Aboriginal peoples in Canada (9th ed)., Scarborough, ON: Pearson Education Canada.

A print version of the eText may be available for purchase from the publisher through a direct-to-student link provided on the course website; you can also acquire the textbook on your own if you wish.


Getty, I.A.L., & Lussier, A.S. (Eds.). (1983). As long as the sun shines and water flows: A reader in Canadian Native studies. Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia Press.

Peterson, J., & Brown, J.S.H. (Eds.). (1985). The new peoples: Being and becoming Métis in North America. Winnipeg, MB: University of Manitoba Press..

Other Materials

The course materials include a study guide, a student manual, and a reading file. Please note there is a digital reading room for this course.

The Digital Reading Room contains the reading selections assigned in addition to those from the course textbooks. You will be directed to appropriate articles as you work your way through the units of the study guide.

Challenge for Credit Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows you to demonstrate that you have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university-level course.

Full information about Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the INST 203 challenge registration, you must achieve a grade of at least D (50 percent) on the examination.

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

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 3, January 16, 2017.

View previous syllabus