The nice thing about attending a liberal arts university is you get the chance to take classes outside of your major. This past fall I took my first Native American Studies class and while it was a challenging the course was rewarding. The class dealt with the post-reservation era in Montana and taking this class was partially for enjoyment. I also took the class to explore the complex issues affecting Montana tribes and this will hopefully make me a better rounded journalist.
Dr. Beck, the chair of the Native Studies department, taught the class and his wealth of knowledge made learning very interesting. We explored the history of each Montana tribe and the contemporary issues playing a role yet today. It was nice to spend time on each tribe and I was surprised at how complex many issues were. Issues relating to water rights and tribal self-determination were especially complex.
During the semester our class gave team presentations on each reservation. We had the individual responsibility of covering an issue unique to our specific reservation. I addressed the epidemic of Indian suicide on the Fort Peck reservation, which is located in Northeast Montana. It was difficult subject matter to tackle but I felt it was a critical issue to understand. My research was quite extensive and this allowed me to put together an awesome PowerPoint.
There are few classes I hate to see end but this was certainly one of those. I learned an incredible amount and have a much greater respect for American Indians. This spring I’m taking another Native Studies class and it deals with the portrayal of Indians in American cinema.
I want to wish everyone a very Happy New Year and all the best in 2011! The year ahead looks to be very exciting and I look forward to sharing it with each of you.