Native (Self) Representation: From Social Media to Reservation Dogs | National Humanities Center

Humanities in Class: Webinar Series

Native (Self) Representation: From Social Media to Reservation Dogs

Indigenous Americans; Indigenous Cultures of the Americas; Mass Media; Popular Culture; Survivance; Decolonization; Reservation Dogs; Firekeeper's Daughter; United Kingdom

Shannon Epplett (Instructional Assistant Professor, School of Theatre and Dance, Illinois State University)

November 21, 2023

Native Americans are nearly invisible in K–12 and higher education curricula, but popular media offers a way to center Native America in the present and teach what anthropology and history cannot: how it feels to be Native in the present. This is a case study of efforts to increase Native representation and decolonize the curriculum by leveraging student interest and engagement in pop culture and new media.

This webinar will explore using TV series like Reservation Dogs and books such as Angeline Boulley’s The Firekeeper’s Daughter in the classroom to teach contemporary Native American culture within predominantly white institutions. Through social media, rock music, comic books, visual art, film and television students learn about Native cultures, history, and current events, as well as come to understand more complex and nuanced issues of identity, sovereignty, survivance, and futurity through the lens of popular art and culture, and new media (…that they also happen to enjoy).

By focusing on the storytelling and creative output of contemporary Native people, rather than clinical, historicizing, and often settler-authored and Eurocentric pedagogies, this approach builds empathy and understanding in students who frequently have no previous engagement or encounter with Native cultures.

Webinar Resources

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Education Studies / Film and Media / Indigenous Americans / Indigenous Cultures of the Americas / Mass Media / Popular Culture / Survivance / Decolonization / Reservation Dogs / Firekeeper's Daughter / United Kingdom /


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