Montana State University

MSU’s online Native American studies courses now open for fall registration

July 23, 2014 -- MSU News Service

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Tel: (406) 994-4571

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” (NASX 232) offers three undergraduate credits and is taught by Department of Native American 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.

“Native America: Dispelling the Myths” (NASX 550) is a three-credit graduate course exploring the various “myths” commonly held by non-Indians and sometimes Indians alike. Students will wrestle with these preconceptions while learning the most basic elements of American Indian—which is to say American—history.

The instructor is Francine Spang-Willis, a Northern Cheyenne tribal member who grew up on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Montana. She has a master’s in Native American Studies and a college teaching certificate from MSU-Bozeman. As former director of the American Indian Tribal Histories Project, she has extensive experience in oral tradition. She currently helps the U.S. Forest Service’s Heritage Program protect and maintain pre-historic and historic sites in the Gallatin National Forest.

“Indigenous Nations of Montana” (NASX 552) is a three-credit graduate course offering 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, or Assiniboine, and work their way through the state clockwise, finishing up with the A’aninin, or 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 masters in Native American studies and an doctorate in curriculum and instruction. He is also a singer of traditional Plains Indian style music.

These online classes run from Aug. 25 to Dec. 12.

Students who go on to earn an online or campus degree or certificate, including the online graduate certificate in Native American Studies or the online bachelor's degree completion program in Liberal Studies, may be able to apply these credits toward their program. Students interested in this option should speak with an MSU academic advisor.

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, contact Janine Hansen at or call (406) 994-6683. 

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