The Edmond Sun

February 18, 2014

OU resurrects Native American curriculum through Janux


Special to The Sun

NORMAN — The University of Oklahoma has announced it is offering Native Peoples of Oklahoma, a course on the cultural traditions and current conditions of the Native American tribes who reside in Oklahoma. The course will be offered at no cost this spring semester to anyone with Internet access through Janux, an online interactive learning community at OU.

“Native Peoples of Oklahoma was once a highly sought after and highly attended course at OU,” said Daniel Swan, a professor of anthropology at OU and curator of ethnology at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. “This semester, we’re reviving it and offering it to anyone who’s interested in American Indian culture. We think we have created the best course overview of Oklahoma American Indians available by bringing in our most renowned faculty experts and resources in the field.”

Originally, the course was taught for more than a decade by Robert Fields, a member of the Pawnee Nation and a professor of anthropology, until his retirement. Now, Swan and Joshua Nelson, a citizen of the Cherokee nation and assistant professor of English focusing on American Indian literature and film, said they feel there is no better time than now to see this course make a comeback.

“With a population of more than 300,000 Native Americans from 37 different tribes, Oklahoma is home to more American Indian tribal headquarters than any other state,” Swan said. “More than 8 percent of Oklahoma’s population is of American Indian or Alaska Native descent, so to offer this course helps further education and awareness for Oklahoma’s Native American tribes.”

With Swan and Nelson as professors, students will have access to the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, the largest university-affiliated museum of its kind in the nation with the largest collection of Native American language curriculum and teaching materials in the world.

“These resources give students access to the best possible information and knowledge on these subjects,” Nelson said. “More Native American languages are taught for college credit at OU than any other university in the world, and OU is ranked among the preeminent institutions in the nation for the study of American Indian literature. Now, through Janux, we’re able to see this course offered to anyone in the world.”

Janux, along with OU’s Native American faculty and resources, is reintroducing the course and opening it up to students anywhere. Now, students can learn about Oklahoma’s deep Native American roots and also learn the roles that indigenous people in Oklahoma have played in national and global contexts. The 16-week course began Jan. 13, but students are still able to go online and catch up with the materials already covered. For more information, visit janux.ou.edu.