History professor Katrina Phillips

Professor Katrina Phillips

Course snapshot:  We begin with an introduction to Indigenous history before 1871, characterized by centuries of Euro-American attempts to colonize and Christianize, to assimilate Native bodies and allot Native lands. We then analyze the ways in which Native Americans have continually fought to sustain their cultures, languages, and religions, as well as their political and socio-economic structures, throughout the 20th and into the 21st centuries.

Why should I take this class? It’s crucial to know the history of the land you’re on—and the history of the people on whose land you reside. And Native history is everywhere. We’re seeing Native issues in the news all the time now—whether it’s Rep. Deb Haaland’s nomination for Secretary of the Interior, the battle over Line 3, or last year’s ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma. There are so many misconceptions about Native Americans and Native history, and I hope that my classes help you understand how history is shaping what happens now.

The facts: I joke with my students that none of my fun facts are actually fun facts when we’re talking about the consequences of settler colonialism. We talk a lot about the awful things that have happened—whether it’s the Sand Creek Massacre, the U.S.-Dakota War, the Wounded Knee Massacre, or federal policies like assimilation and termination—but we also talk about the resistance, resilience, and creativity of Native peoples. 

Selected readings: “Indian Appropriations Act (1871),” “A Declaration of Indian Rights,” (National Congress of American Indians, 1954), and “The Spirit of Standing Rock on the Move,” by Stephanie Woodard. 

Inspiration: The fact that I’m here as a Native woman teaching Native history is a testament to those who came before me, and I feel like I owe it to them to make sure I can show students why this history matters.

Building community: My classes are collectively building timelines that help fill in the nuances of this history. I’m learning so much from these projects, and I’m getting to see what my students are interested in learning about through their research.


Up next: 2D Design

February 24 2021

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