Fall 2015 - HIST 427 D100

Problems in the History of Aboriginal Peoples (4)

Class Number: 5899

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 8 – Dec 7, 2015: Thu, 1:30–5:20 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Mary-Ellen Kelm
    Office: AQ 6227
  • Prerequisites:

    45 units including nine units of lower division history.



Examination of selected themes in the history of Aboriginal peoples.


Indigenous Histories, Representation and Performance

“So much of the story of Aboriginal Peoples, as seen through their own eyes, is still missing from Canadian history.”
Honouring the Truth, Reconciling the Future: Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

Indigenous histories are everywhere in Canada – even here at SFU. But we sometimes have a hard time seeing them, understanding what we see, and communicating what we learn.

This course examines the ways in which Indigenous people have been represented, and have represented themselves, in text, photograph, film, performance and exhibit. It will examine the shifting relationships between cultural production and social, political and economic relations within Indigenous communities and between Indigenous and settler communities. Students will gain an understanding of how the politics of production shape and give meaning to various forms of representation of Indigenous people in Canada and the United States. Students will gain new insight into how cultural production, including the writing of history, constitutes as well as reflects relations between First Nations and settler societies.
Students will emerge from this course able to apply decolonizing and Indigenous methods to the documentary, visual, auditory and material texts used to produce Indigenous histories. They will learn how to generate their own histories that are respectful and inclusive of Indigenous knowledge and knowledge-keepers. While using examples from across North America, we will respect our place on unceded Coast Salish territory by focusing attention on our own local scene.

If you have ever wanted to know more about the Indigenous histories of the grounds upon which we tread each day, this is the course for you. If you ever wanted to understand better how to read media, film, archival and other representations of Indigenous peoples, this course is for you. If you ever wanted to learn how to talk about Indigenous histories respectfully, then join us as we embark on a journey together to decolonize Canadian -- and SFU’s -- history.


  • Learning Journal 30%
  • Writing Assignment 20%
  • Research Assignment 20%
  • Presentation 15%
  • Discussion 15%



Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. 2nd edition, 2012

Registrar Notes:

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Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html