Montana State University

MSU launches two new online courses in Native American studies

December 2, 2014 -- MSU News Service

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571

BOZEMAN – Montana State University will offer two new online Native American studies courses for spring semester, including: “Native Food Systems,” an undergraduate course, and “Activism and Indigeneity: A Comparative Study,” which is offered as both an undergraduate course and a graduate course.

Registration is now open, and students do not have to enroll in an MSU degree program in order to take either course.

Using examples from across North America, “Native Food Systems” (NASX 415) will investigate relationships between Native American food, culture, knowledge and ecology. The course will explore environmental stewardship techniques and agricultural innovations that provide plants and animals for sustenance; the worldviews and values that guide these practices; and the impacts of changing political landscapes on the health and food culture of Native peoples.

The instructor is Michelle Baumflek, who recently received her doctorate from Cornell University. Her research focuses on the use of gathered plants and fungi and their relationship to choices about health, food and cultural expression in indigenous communities of Maine and New Brunswick.

In “Activism and Indigeneity: A Comparative Study” (NASX 491 / NASX 591), students will examine a wide range of activist movements, then apply that knowledge to develop a final project with a specific community in mind. Students will focus on a pressing contemporary issue, such as pesticides, suicide, housing, jobs, etc. Students will learn how grassroots activism has worked across a variety of cultures, times and places, and they will take away a set of tools for cultivating positive change.

The instructor, Iokua ‘Josh’ Mori, will also offer an optional opportunity to travel to the Hawaiian island of Kauai in the summer for a two-week cultural immersion seminar led by a group of Hawaiian activists and cultural practitioners. (Travel costs are not included in the tuition price).

Mori has a master’s degree from MSU's Department of Native American Studies, where he has taught several courses. For the last four years Mori was the program coordinator for the Montana Apprenticeship Program. He now lives on the west side of Kauai, where he is very involved in the local activist movements, as well as running an academy training Hawaiian culture-based athletes and helping out with the Indigenous Warrior Institute.

Other spring online Native American Studies courses include “Indigenous Literature and the West,” which can be taken as an undergraduate class (NASX 253) or a graduate class (NASX 553) and “Federal Indian Law and Policy” (NASX 476/530), which co-convenes as an undergraduate course and a graduate course.

These online classes run from Jan. 14 to May 8. 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 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.    

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