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Santa Fe Native American Study Group

Departments of English, Native American Studies, and Women Studies

Not offered in 2014-15

Santa Fe, New Mexico, and its broad environs offer unparalleled opportunities in the United States for the study of American Indian cultures. The Native Americans of the Southwest have been less absorbed into mainstream culture, more tenacious of their traditions, and more successful in maintaining integrated tribal identity than virtually all other tribes in the country.

At the same time, there is a larger proportion of the non-Indian population who care about Native American culture in the Southwest than in most parts of the United States. Because of its location, its museums and other institutions, its Native American experts, and its receptivity to the preservation and enhancement of Native American cultures, Santa Fe is nearly ideal as a locus for Native American Studies.

The Colgate Native American study program in Santa Fe is unique. To the best of our knowledge, there is not another liberal arts college or university in the United States that offers a semester off-campus study program, with a full component of courses, in Native American life and culture as well as significant service-learning opportunities in the pueblos. The program has been offered in alternate years since 1991 and is being offered again in the fall of 2011.  Students will have access to collections in the University of New Mexico Library, the Research Library of the Laboratory of Anthropology at the Museum of New Mexico, the library at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design and the Santa Fe Public Library.


As an interdisciplinary study group, courses count toward many different concentrations--in ENGL, ENST, EDUC, SOAN, and WMST.  Consult with the director.   Courses meet MW.  Students are involved in service learning at the pueblos TTh.  Courses are augmented by single and multiple day field trips.  There are no courses on Fridays.

NAST 302: Contemporary Issues in Native American Studies  This course focuses on various issues facing Native American communities today.  Areas explored in the course include cultural expression, sovereignty, environmental and sacred-site protection, education, language shift, healthcare systems, economic development among others.  While these issues will be considered in the context of Native communities throughout the Americas, particular attention will be given to Pueblo, Navajo and Southern Ute.

NAST XXX: Native American Studies Service Learning, with experiential learning activities on two days per week. Students also meet as a class with the instructor once a week in a seminar format.  Taught by Dr. Sarah Wider, Professor of English and Women’s Studies. This interdisciplinary course focuses on the particular programs students will be working with at the pueblos and the Santa Fe Indian School.  These programs include Tesuque Pueblo’s Sustainable Farming Project, Environmental Management Programs at both Cochiti and Tesuque Pueblos, early childhood education at the Cochiti Language Nest and Tesuque Pueblo Head Start, elder care programs at Cochiti and Tesuque, as well as multiple possibilities in education, elementary through high school.

ENGL 336: Native American Literature. Taught by Sarah Wider, Professor of English and Women’s Studies.  This course focuses on writers of the Pueblos and the Navajo Nation.  Particular attention will be given to biography and autobiography.  We’ll consider the various literary and cultural traditions upon which these writers draw.  What part does an oral tradition play in creating a written work?  Can one be translated into the other?  How do types of life-writing, like ethnographies, affect the way contemporary authors choose to represent a life’s stories?  We’ll read works by Leslie Marmon Silko, Simon Ortiz, Evelina Zuni Lucero, Luci Tapahonso, Orlando White, Laura Tohe, and will take advantage of poetry readings in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and Taos.  Counts as a Global Engagements course.

SOAN 359: Archaeology and Ethnology of Southwestern Indians.  Lectures, readings, field trips, and discussions highlight the deep time depth and diversity of the traditional cultures of the Southwest.  Topics will include environments and traditional technologies that underlie the transition from Paleoindian big game hunters to Puebloan farmers over the past 10,000+ years.  The final segment of the course will review the dramatic changes of the past 400 years of cultural contact and conflict during the Spanish, Mexican, and American periods in the northern Southwest.

Field Trips

Field trips will include visits to pueblos, reservations, and archaeological sites. These trips will be of two types: one- and two-day outings to nearby places, such as Taos and Acoma pueblos, the Salinas area pueblos, Abiquiu, and Chaco Culture National Historical Park; and an extended seven-day camping trip to the Four Corners Area of the Colorado Plateau, which involves visits to Mesa Verde National Park, Canyon de Chelly, Hopi Pueblo, and Zuni.

Extracurricular Opportunities

The extracurricular opportunities in the Santa Fe area during the fall are particularly good for hiking, fishing, camping, skiing, rafting, rock climbing, horseback riding, Hispanic cuisine, and museums, as well as theater, musical performances, and art shows. Students may wish to go to Santa Fe early for Indian Market in mid-August, or for the Corn Dances at Santa Clara and Zia Pueblos.

Living Arrangements

All students will reside at Santa Fe University of Art and Design and will be welcome to use all campus facilities: dining hall, library, health services, student programming, athletic facilities.  Parking is free.

Prerequisites and Selection Criteria

There are no prerequisite courses for this study group; however, during the spring semester, we’ll begin our coursework on campus with the 1/2 credit NAST XXX: Continuity and Change in Pueblo Communities (taught by Sarah Wider).  Providing an introduction to the pueblos, it also will enable us to begin planning your service learning component for the fall semester.


For details of student expenses on this study group, please see Student Cost Estimate Sheet.

Calendar and Deadlines

2011 Fall Calendar:
Students move into Santa Fe University: August 24
First Day of Classes: August 26
Last Day of Classes: December 6
Final Exams: December 11-13
Students Depart Santa Fe University: December 14 The deadline for applications to the Fall 2011 Santa Fe—Native American Study Group is Friday, November 9, 2010.

The deadline for applications has already passed.

Program Dates

Santa Fe—Native American  Study Group program dates:  August 24—December 14, 2011

Informational Sessions

All informational sessions for this program have already passed.

More Information

For more information, contact Sarah Wider at