Native Village Youth and Education News
January 1, 2009 Issue 193 Volume 2

Native American issues shape new CMU classes

Heather Smith

Michigan: Graduate students will expand their knowledge of Native American issues through new classes at Central Michigan University. Beginning in January, a CMU graduate program will include an option for students to study Native American issues in modern culture.

The new classes, which are a course study within CMU's Master of Arts in Humanities degree program, are interdisciplinary and will include topics such as Native American history, contemporary culture, film, religion, indigenous literature and others.

"Contemporary issues affecting Native American tribes like tribal sovereignty and cultural education tend to take a back seat to Indian gaming," said Joseph Sowmick, spokesman for the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe. "It is refreshing to see CMU take a lead academic role in bringing these important contemporary issues into the classroom for proper discourse."

"This program has long been very attractive to people thinking beyond and through barriers," said Ronald Primeau, English professor and director of CMU's Master of Arts in Humanities. "By taking classes in literature, history, film, music and the other arts, students are able to study in a way that makes connections in new ways."

CMU also offers an interdisciplinary minor in American Indian studies. Along with requiring that students gain elementary competency in the Ojibwe language, the program teaches students about the histories and cultures of Native people of North America, with special emphasis on the ways in which racism has impacted these communities both historically and in the contemporary period.

"This program will give added opportunities to those who want to work with tribal communities or educate students on tribal sovereignty and culture," adds Colleen Green, director of Native American Programs at CMU.

More information about the Master of Arts in Humanities degree can be found at

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