Political Issues

5 Online History Courses To Honor Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Kara Jillian Brown

Photo: Getty Images / Westend61

Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebrates the histories and cultures of people subjected to genocide when Europeans colonized land throughout the Americas. Fourteen states officially observe the holiday in addition to 130 cities within the United States.

While the story of the colonizers is primarily taught in schools and memorialized in statues, the plight that Indigenous people faced—and continue to face—is too often glossed over. To strengthen your knowledge of history, sign up for one or more of these online Indigenous studies courses.

Indigenous studies courses you can take online

Brought to you by the Smithsonian, this course is composed of 24 30-minute lessons that dive into the history of Indigenous people. Starting with colonization in the 1600s and moving into the present, this course covers topics like “The American Revolution Through Native Eyes” and “Reasserting Rights and Tribal Sovereignty.” You can buy an audio download version of the course for $150, a video download for $235, or a DVD for $270.

Sign up now: Native Peoples of North America, $150+

2. University of Colorado, Boulder: Water in the Western United States, Free

Control over waterways is a huge source of contention within Indigenous communities as the wishes of federal entities can go against that of the community. This five-week course provides an introduction to water in the western United States. It explores the politics surrounding who gets the right to use water, the impact of climate change on the water supply, and controversies surrounding western bodies of water. The course is free and takes about 24 hours to complete.

Sign up now: Water in the Western United States, free

3. University of Alaska, Fairbanks: Salmon, People, and Place, Free

For a deeper dive into the tie between water and Indigenous communities, this course closely examines salmon and how it impacts communities. The six-week course covers the deep connections between Indigenous people and salmon, common threats to salmon populations, the complex and interconnected nature of salmon systems in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest,
Western fishery management, sport and commercial fisheries, the impact of climate change on salmon, an understanding of traditional sustainable management, and the future of salmon and its connection to people. This course is free and requires four to six hours of work per week.

Sign up now: Fairbanks Salmon, People, and Place, free

From the faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta comes this 12-lesson course on Canada-based Indigenous studies. It takes a historical look at national and local Indigenous-settler relations as well as exploring the key issues facing Indigenous people today. The course covers the fur trade and other exchange relationships, land claims and environmental impacts, legal systems and rights, political conflicts and alliances, Indigenous political activism, and contemporary Indigenous life, art and its expressions. The course is free and takes about 21 hours to complete.

Sign up now: Indigenous Canada, free

5. Center for World Indigenous Studies: Exploring Intelligence From an Indigenous Perspective, $49

Offered by the Center for World Indigenous Studies, this three-section course examines the concept of intelligence through the lens of Indigenous people. Through the course you’ll visit several Indigenous cultures around the globe, exploring their different histories and lifestyles, and immersing yourself into how Indigenous people define and perceive intelligence.

Sign up now: Exploring Intelligence from an Indigenous Perspective, $49

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