Syllabus: Indigenous Peoples - Global Issues (Fall 2001)

Professor Peter d'Errico

Course description

This course provides a critical overview of present day issues facing indigenous peoples. We begin by examining the concept of a "Fourth World." Who are indigenous peoples and how have they been categorized in relation to "ethnic groups," colonization, and the international system of states? We examine current debates within the United Nations about indigenous peoples and human rights. We take a look at law and economics of colonialism and emerging issues of globalization. We explore the relationship of law and custom. Reading materials include fiction and non-fiction approaches to these themes.



1, 2, 3, 4: How many worlds? Colonialism and Globalization

"Contact: the Yanomami Indians of Brazil" This documentary, shot in one of the most remote corners of the Brazilian Amazon, graphically depicts the devastating impact of contact with the outside world on an isolated indigenous tribe. (Filmakers Library, 1990)

Colonialism and Self-determination


Rice v. Cayetano, 528 U.S. 495 (2000)
Steven T. Newcomb, "Comment: Rice v. Cayetano - Justice Department Evidence Contradicts Supreme Court Decision"

VIDEO: "Nation within: the story of America's annexation of the nation of Hawai'i" (Kãne'ohe, Hawai'i: Epi-Center, 1998)

Science as invasion; Sociology as police work


Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

VIDEO: "Gene Hunters" (Films for the Humanities and Sciences, 1995) This film tells the controversial story of an ambitious scientific enterprise to collect the DNA of native peoples worldwide: The Human Genome Diversity Project.

United Nations and indigenous peoples



VIDEO: "Tightrope of Power" Witness the struggles of the Objibwa-Cree and Mohawk tribes against the Canadian federal government. (Alexandria, VA: PBS Video, 1992.)

Human Rights - Human Customs



VIDEO: "Fire Eyes" Explores the socio-economic, psychological and medical consequences of the ancient custom of female circumcision - genital mutilation. (New York: Filmakers Library, 1994.)

Structures of extraction


B. Traven, Government

VIDEO: "First Contact" Recounts the discovery by gold prospectors of a flourishing native population in the interior highlands of New Guinea in 1930 in what had been thought to be an uninhabited area. (New York, N.Y.: Filmakers Library, 1984.)

Political theory of colonialism



VIDEO: "Burn!" A story of political greed and social upheaval on a journey deep into the heart of darkness of a 19th century Caribbean island, where men rise up in bitter and bloody rebellion against the wealthy nations seeking to enslave them. (Culver City, CA: MGM/UA Home Video, 1991, c1969.)

To be Announced


Indigenous rebellion in Mexico


VIDEO: "Sixth Sun" Examination of the events during and following the peasant uprising in Chiapas in 1994. (New York: Cinema Guild, 1996,)

Indigenous ways


A. Oscar Kawagley, A Yupiaq Worldview

VIDEO: "A Poor Man Shames Us All" Contrasts Western views of wealth and economic needs, which have created a society of strangers in the midst of material riches, with tribal cultures such as the Weyewa of Indonesia and the Gabra of Kenya, which create economies of dependency on others. (Alexandria, VA: PBS Video, 1992.)


Anouk Tryon, graduate student, "Aboriginal education issues in Canada"


Anti-colonialism through film