Native American Religions and Ecology

Fall 2017
T 4:00-5:20pm
Area V
MDIV Requirements: 
Non-Christian Religion, Diversity
Permission Not Required
No Limit to Enrollment
Course Description: 

This six week hybrid-online course explores a diversity of Native American peoples and examines their ecological interactions with place, biodiversity, and celestial bodies as religious realities. The dynamic interactions of First Nations’ cultures and bioregions provide a lens for understanding lifeways, namely, a weave of thought and practice in traditional Native American life. Through symbolic languages, subsistence practices, and traditional rituals, lifeways give expression to living cosmologies, namely, communal life lived in relation to a sacred universe.

This course focuses on an historical overview of three American Indian cultural regions and particular peoples, namely, Anishinabe/Ojibwa peoples of the Great Lakes and Woodlands; Apsaalooka/Crow peoples of the continental Great Plains; and Dineh/Navajo peoples of the Southwest River, Mountain, and Arid Plateau. 

These diverse peoples and changing traditions raise provocative and insightful perspectives on crucial environmental questions of the 21st century.   Are there shared forms among Native American Peoples for flourishing life and traditional-conservation that relate to contemporary “sustainability”?  How does Indigenous Knowledge transmit environmental ethics embracing biotic and abiotic realms? How does Indigenous environmental knowledge relate to scientific ecological knowledge? 

Background Expected: 


Course Requirements: 

This six-week flipped course is offered for Yale students, both graduate and undergraduate. In particular, it will engage students in the Divinity School, the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and the Department of Religious Studies and Environmental Studies.  A flipped course is a combination of in-person meetings with outside reading and video lectures. Two credits will be offered for the course.  If Yale Divinity School students wish to receive 3 credits for this online course, they can complete a 10-15 page paper on a topic approved by the instructors.

Students are expected to complete each week:

 - 3 hours of viewing online lectures and videos

 - 3 hours of reading books and articles

 - online assignments posted to Canvas

 - group discussions (online and in the classroom for one hour per week)

Basis of Evaluation: 

Grades will be determined on the basis of the completion and quality of course readings, assignments, participation in postings, and group discussions online and in the classroom.

The software program Canvas is equipped to record completion of online readings and assignments and allows for faculty evaluation of written work.  The following areas will be assigned for completion and grade evaluation each week:

- viewing online lectures and videos (3 hours viewing each week) for 10%

- reading online articles (3 hours each week) for 10%

- weekly writing assignments for 20%

- weekly responses to other students’ posting for 20%

- attendance and group discussions in classroom (1 hour each week) for 15%

- students will complete a 5 page paper for 25%