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Books for Native American Studies

Dartmouth is home to a ton of different departments, but one of my favorites is the Native American Studies (NAS) department. Let me tell you why you should take a NAS class at Dartmouth!

During my freshman fall, I didn't have the slightest idea of the exact classes I wanted to take. It's Dartmouth practice for freshmen to pick their classes just before classes start, and so I put off the decision for my courses until it was finally time to pick. I didn't do too much research at all; I wanted to be surprised. The only knowledge I had about specific classes was a "speed-dating" activity that I'd participated in during pre-orientation, where I met different professors and chatted briefly about their department's course offerings. Immediately, I was drawn to the Native American Studies department for the passion. Additionally, I had no idea what Native American Studies was! I'm not personally Native American, nor did I learn too much about Native history in school, which meant that the department would be going into subject areas that I've rarely been able to engage with. When I needed to finally choose classes, I decided: I was going to try Native American Studies.

I ended up taking a class called Indigistory, which basically engaged with how Indigenous people of today were using digital mediums to celebrate, honor, and appreciate their culture through visual storytelling. The course was taught by award-winning poet and author Gordon Henry (I talked about this class here, if you'd like to learn more!), and allowed us to dive into the different techniques used by Native storytellers today to perform cultural revitalization in the 21st century. This was a class of just eight people, allowing for deep discussions and plenty of interaction between every person in the class. We all came from very different cultural traditions and backgrounds, and being able to work so collaboratively outside of the typical lecture-style class was one of the best ways to kickstart my college experience. College isn't high school -- not by the most generous of definitions, but then again maybe the contrast is even easier to see where your college is Dartmouth.

Indigistory was an interdisciplinary class, bringing together literature, film, linguistics, history, and the arts together in one unified, cohesive curriculum that showed me the value of borrowing from other disciplines. That is essentially the liberal arts! And Native American Studies as a department is very much like that: you can't divorce one discipline from the other. Every Native American Studies class I've had so far -- just about five in total -- has blended different fields of study in order to create a course that insightfully dives into Native studies. It's allowed me to define parts of my lived experience, putting them into the context of colonialism and other aspects of global history. If you're like me and constantly overwhelmed by all of the different classes available, wanting to take them all, then Native American Studies is a great way to touch on different academic disciplines within one class.

This term, I'm taking the class Native American Literature and the Law (NAS 041). Two of the books in the cover for this post are ones my class has read alongside landmark legal cases in the world of Federal Indian Law. As a prospective law student, this class has given me the ability to marry two of my interests -- one new, one old -- and tackle advanced legal concepts in the context of literature. Like Indigistory, NAS 041 is letting me contextualize my world and read fiction, history, and cases as part of a unified curriculum. 

I could go on and on about my experiences in Native American Studies, and have no shortage of memories. If you're looking to try something new at college, and especially something completely different than what you were exposed to in high school, I can't recommend the NAS department enough. The people are incredible, the subject matter is intriguing, and the chance you'll end up taking a class with me is multiplied! Can there be a better reason? See y'all soon!

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