Indigenous Studies Online at the Institute of American Indian Arts

Institute of American Indian Arts

( – promoted by navajo)

Beginning in 1999, the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM, founded the Native Eyes Project to provide a new approach to online tertiary education in indigenous studies.  By 2007 eight online courses were on offer by this well known tribal college

Taught from an interdisciplinary and liberal arts point of view, Native Eyes courses are fully accredited and built on a solid scholarly base. However, the program differs from most mainstream studies in the Humanities, Sciences, and Social Sciences, in that all courses incorporate a strong Indigenous perspective, utilizing significant input from prominent Indigenous scholars, artists, elders and leaders, thereby encompassing Native American ways of seeing and understanding the world.


These courses are available to all people, native and non-native, who wish to learn more about indigenous ways of seeing and understanding the world.  Although the main focus remains on American Indian cultures, course materials draw on indigenous perspectives from around the world, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, and Europe as well as North and South America.

Lloyd Kiva New (Cherokee, 1916-2002), Founding Director of IAIA, addressed the question of why a College of Art and Design would offer a program of this type:

Art not only reflects cultural change but helps to guide its course into the future. It seems to me that this reciprocal relationship between art and culture lies at the heart of the new curriculum proposed by the Native Eyes Project, and I am pleased to support it.

Curriculum team members of The Native Eyes Project included Nancy Mithlo (Apache, PhD Anthropology); Laurelyn Whitt (Choctaw heritage, PhD Philosophy); Dave Warren (Santa Clara Tewa, PhD History), Dr. Wade Chambers (Cherokee heritage, PhD History of Science) and Gabe Shaw (Paiute, New Media) as well as many other native and non-native scholars.  Dr Warren described his support for the project in these words:

The times are propitious, the opportunity great, and the challenge both exciting and daunting, for indigenous educational initiatives like this one. The Native Eyes Online Learning Program part of a new “community building” process, that will open new options, but, perhaps paradoxically, will also incorporate time-honored traditional institutions and values.

The principal instructor and Founding Director of the program, Dr. Wade Chambers, provided the following welcome to all who are interested:

Welcome to Native Eyes – a program designed by and for Native Americans with outreach to indigenous and non-indigenous people around the world. The program offers students an opportunity to think about important social and cultural issues from a broadly indigenous perspective utilizing highly flexible learning modes within a carefully devised structure of study guides, directed reading, critical thinking, disciplined writing, and the latest innovations in Web interactivity and presentation.

The principal objectives are to provide students with respect for indigenous cultures everywhere, while also developing the students’ capacity to understand and utilize the skills of Western-oriented curricula and professional training. Prospective students range from college undergraduates to established artists and professionals who wish to acquire a deeper grasp of the creative role of traditional cultures in the modern world.

We invite applications from around the globe and especially from Indian Country. Successful studies in the Humanities change the way you see and experience the world. If you decide to enroll with us, you should expect nothing less than that.

For further info, see:

or on Facebook, search for Native Eyes Indigenous Studies.  The names of the separate courses are included below, and future diaries are planned to deal with particular courses.

The titles of the eight IAIA courses include:

Indigenous Perspectives on Humor

Indigenous Perspectives on Knowledge

Indigenous Perspectives on Place

Indigenous Perspectives on Nature

How Indians Made America: History Before Columbus

Indigenous Visual Studies: perception/representation/meaning

StoryWeaving: ways of knowing and telling

American Indian Mapping: configuring time and space

Flexible Format:

Work at your own pace! Work at a time of your own choosing!

Online access to course materials and readings 24 hours a day!

Submit your work electronically by email!

Peer support and interaction through online Talking Circles!

Staff interaction via quick response email!

No prerequisites!

Audit or For Credit!

Innovative Courses:

Focus on Visual Thinking!

Topics in indigenous studies!

Online discussion board!

Photo Essay and Other Creative Projects!

Develop an E-Portfolio!

Meet students online from around the world!

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