5 Arts courses you can take to learn about Indigenous history and culture


Students in discussion standing inside UBC Museum of Anthropology.

June is National Indigenous History Month, an opportunity for us to reflect on and learn about the history, culture, sacrifices, contributions, and strengths of all Indigenous peoples. The Faculty of Arts offers many courses that highlight the rich history and culture of Indigenous peoples in Canada.

In recognition of National Indigenous Peoples Day, we have compiled a list of five courses in Arts that you can take this upcoming Winter session to learn more about Indigenous topics. These courses are open to all Arts students without any prerequisites and are taught by Indigenous faculty.

Term 1

SOCI 220: Sociology of Indigenous Peoples

Study the effects of the social meanings of race, ethnicity, gender, and class for Indigenous peoples in Canada and the United States. Explore how these social meanings shape identity formation, life chances, health, and social policy.

Look forward to: Actively engaging with the course material and concepts, with space for sharing and discussion. Learn about the complex social world of Indigenous peoples through podcasts like This Land hosted by Rebecca Nagle and Unreserved with Falen Johnson and write a reflection paper on films like Smoke Signals and Blood Quantum.

Dr. Kimberly Huyser

Meet the course instructor:
“I hope that students who take this course will understand the unique contributions and social position of Indigenous peoples. I hope they feel empowered to meaningfully invest in their social world and work towards a better world.”

FNIS 220: Representation and Indigenous Cultural Politics

This course looks at journalism and media about Indigenous peoples. Learn how digital and social platforms have changed the nature of what it means to report on Indigenous concerns and participate in conversations and social action related to these concerns.

Look forward to: Reading articles, watching films, listening to podcasts, experimenting with a class Twitter account, and making your own media. You will also get to create a group podcast commentary, which past students have found to be a valuable exercise in articulating and mobilizing their own critiques and concerns in conversation with classmates.

Dr. Candis Callison

Meet the course instructor:
“The last decade has seen a steep rise in the number of highly visible global and national Indigenous movements – from Idle No More and Standing Rock to Mauna Kea and Wet’suwet’en land defense actions. There’s also been a huge expansion of Indigenous media, journalism, and commentary. It’s a fascinating time to be thinking about Indigenous issues and concerns and how they’re represented and covered by various media.”

Term 2

ANTH 220: First Nations of British Columbia

This course will provide an introduction to the First Peoples of British Columbia, their resources, and economies. It will provide a critical contemporary primer to key issues facing economic and social development in British Columbia and the ways that First Nations are at the center of these issues.

Look forward to: Delving deep into an issues-focused course that will prepare you to be global citizens that are more aware of how all of our futures, settler and Indigenous, are linked.

hagwil hayetsk/Dr. Charles Menzies (Gitxaała Nation)

Meet the course instructor:
“This course is an unvarnished look at the importance of First Nations in today’s economy and the obligations all people living in BC have to understand the legacy of colonialism and how to move forward productively.”


CRWR 220: Introduction to Creative Writing with an Indigenous Focus

This course will help you build a foundation in the vocabularies of Indigenous studies and Indigenous literary studies, as well as in creative writing through forms, techniques, literary devices, and more.

Look forward to: Writing assignments that can be either critical, creative, or both and can range from autobiographical reflections on place and identity, to analytical discussions of assigned texts, to poetry.

Dr. Billy-Ray Belcourt

Meet the course instructor:

“In this course, students will be introduced to a wide array of texts written by contemporary Indigenous writers in Canada and the United States.”


FNIS 210: The Politics of Self-Determination

Learn about the cultural, historical, political, economic, and gender dynamics that structure the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the state of Canada. Topics covered include Indigenous self-determination struggles in relation to constitutional recognition, self-government, land claims, and economic development. 

Look forward to: A diversity of readings, films, and speakers that engage the topic of self-determination from a critical Indigenous perspective.

Dr. Glen Coulthard

Meet the course instructor:
“FNIS 210 is ultimately a course on social justice for Indigenous peoples on Indigenous terms. It is important to take this course because the freedom and self-determination of Indigenous peoples is intrinsically linked to that of others.”

To discover more Arts courses with an Indigenous focus, visit the following resources: