Montana State University

MSU's online Native American Studies courses now open for fall registration

July 26, 2013 -- MSU News Service

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BOZEMAN – Montana State University's online courses in Native American Studies are now open for fall registration, including two graduate courses and one undergraduate course. Students do not have to be enrolled in an MSU program of study in order to take the courses.

“Montana Indian Culture, History and Current Issues,” which offers three undergraduate credits, is taught by Native American Studies department head Walter Fleming. The course covers: The establishment of Montana's reservations; treaties and agreements with the federal government; contemporary tribal governments; and social structures including kinship, political affiliations, military, warrior societies and religion.

Fleming has taught at MSU for over 30 years and was raised on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation. He is an enrolled member of the Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas.

“American Indian Art Survey” is a three-credit graduate course that explores the unique arts of North American indigenous peoples within the overlapping contexts of culture area, politics, cosmology, religion and spirituality and gender. Students will examine Native American artwork for both its aesthetic and functional value, and will explore indigenous artworks as collectible items, including the unique legal issues that apply to the collection and sale of Native American art objects.

The course is taught by Ceilon Aspensen, a lifelong artist who taught high school art and journalism in Baltimore and was an art teacher and mentor in Bozeman prior to earning her teaching certification. Aspensen earned her master's degree in Native American Studies from MSU with an emphasis on electronic distance education delivery.

“Indigenous Nations of Montana” a three-credit graduate course, provides an introduction to Montana’s contemporary indigenous nations, including exploration of the 11 tribes resident on Montana reservations, as well as the Little Shell, who are without a federally recognized homeland. With instructor Shane Doyle, students will start in the East with the Nakoda (Assiniboine) and work their way around the state clockwise, finishing up with the A’aninin (White Clay), in the North. The course examines the traditional culture and history of each tribe, with a strong focus on contemporary life and issues.

Doyle is a Crow tribal member originally from Crow Agency. He holds a bachelor’s in elementary education, a master’s in Native American Studies and an doctorate in education in curriculum and instruction. He is also a singer of traditional Plains Indian style music as well as a distance runner and an avid reader.

These online classes run from Aug. 26 to Dec. 13. Students do not have to be enrolled in an MSU program of study to take these courses. However, students who go on to earn an online or campus degree or certificate, including the online graduate certificate in Native American Studies, may be able to apply these credits toward their program.

To register or read more about the courses, visit MSU's Extended University at All courses are listed under Native American Studies. For more information about the courses or MSU's online graduate certificate, contact Janine Hansen at or call (406) 994-5240. 

Contact: Janine Hansen, MSU Extended University, (406) 994-6683,