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Native American Studies?

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My HS student has been doing a year long "survival skills" class, which focuses on primitive skills. He attended Rabbitstick, a week long primitive skills gathering. Some of the other HS parents

are calling this Native American Studies. He asked me about this, and I told him no, unless we added history and literature to it. He has spent approximately 100 hours in class this year, and another 35 hours working on skills at Rabbitstick. 


What do you think? Any good Native American Studies syllabus? Recommended readings/books? 

Edited by sierramv1
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I would recommend some literature or memoirs written by Native Americans themselves.  This will give lots of first-hand accounts of what its like to grow up Native American.  Do you live near any local tribes? Are there any historical Native sites nearby?


We live very close to the Navajo and Apache reservations and my husband and I are houseparents at a children's home that serves the tribes.  Please teach your son to have the upmost respect to the Native Americans.  Most non-Natives have a very derogatory view of them or only think of them in terms of the 1800s or earlier times.  There are so many tribes still active now and they take great pride in their heritage and culture. 

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It sounds like an actual Native American Studies course would be helpful to all concerned if they think primitive skills/survivalism qualifies.


Below are several syllabi from various institutions for Intro to Native American Studies courses (one is actually a History of Native Americans course).










You will not find primitive survival skills listed in any of them.

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Was the primitive skills course presented as reflecting actual, known Native American techniques? Be mindful there are many ways to do things; just because something is "primitive" doesn't mean it's the way a given culture did things. And more importantly, many many many Native American cultures were not living on a "primitive survival" basis at the time of European contact but had infrastructure developed to a similar level to pre-industrial societies throughout the world. Consider the aqueducts of Tenochtitlan, the Iroquois longhouse system, Pueblo apartment complexes, and De Soto's reports of Cahokia civilization in the Mississippi valley (backed up by archaeology, probably inadvertently destroyed by germs he brought with him). For just a few. One of the reasons (right or wrong) that people were so outraged by the forced removal of the Cherokee from Georgia to Oklahoma was that they were fully "civilized," living in towns, publishing in their own language and script, even collecting funds to send famine relief to Ireland. Etc. etc. etc. "Primitive survival" is simply one phase in the development of all peoples, not definitive of a certain group. And it takes a certain kind of scholar to tell you whether a given technique really represents a certain part of history or not. Which is not to say current creative explorations of environmental survival don't have value, they're just not necessarily "Native American."

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