HIST 3510A: Indigenous Peoples of Canada
Fall 2022

Instructor: Tyla Betke

Description:  This course examines the historical experiences of Indigenous peoples and their encounters with colonialism and the Canadian nation-state. It examines key sites of interactions between Indigenous peoples—First Nations, Métis, and Inuit—and their would-be colonizers in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Canada. We will critically engage with and consider colonialism as a framework with which to study the contours of Indigenous lives and histories during this period. What do we mean when we talk about “colonialism”? What different forms has it taken? How have Indigenous peoples shaped, accommodated, or resisted such measures? What are the legacies of these colonial interactions? What might de-colonization look like? What are the benefits and challenges of using colonialism as a framework to study this history?

Our investigations will focus in large part on the primary sources that provide glimpses into aspects of Canada’s colonial past.  Many of the sources that have been used to write the histories of Indigenous peoples were themselves the product of colonial needs to survey and control Indigenous peoples. While such archival collections necessarily privilege the perspectives and desires of colonizers and the very conditions of colonization, such records have also proven vital to understand the unique forms of colonization across Canada as well as to Indigenous efforts to seek legal redress before courts and other tribunals. Grappling with the double-edged nature of historical sources about Indigenous peoples will necessarily mean casting a critical eye on the practice of history and its implication in the colonial pasts that historians have sought to document.

Students in this course will be asked to engage in critical self-reflection to think about their own relationships with and positions within systems of colonialism. We will engage with the works of various Indigenous scholars, filmmakers, podcasters, and content creators. While the focus is on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, we will make connections between what we are learning and realities today. We will consider how the legacies of settler colonialism endure and we will think about what shape de-colonization might take in Canada.

Format: We will meet on campus twice a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays) for 1.5 hours each class. This time will be split between lectures, class discussions, and the examination of historical sources and course readings. You will be assigned readings to complete before each week’s classes. This component will require reading scholarly articles, watching films and documentaries, and listening to podcast episodes, all in preparation for our class meetings.

Evaluation: Over the duration of this course, you will be asked to complete a small weekly activity based on the assigned readings. A series of assignments throughout the semester will build toward your final research paper. The final exam will be a take-home final exam based on course lectures and readings.

Readings: The readings for this course will all be available online or distributed by the instructor. In other words, you will not need to purchase any reading materials for this course.

If you have any questions please contact me at tyla.betke@carleton.ca