Indian 101 Overview


Course Synopsis

This course is about reality.  Too many people out there have no clue as to the reality of Indian people. Most of what people know about Indians is what they see in the media. Like everything else that they do, the media does an extraordinarily poor job of representing the actual lives of Indian people. In this course, I'm going to express my thoughts and point of view on "Indianess".  I'm not here representing "Indian People", but rather just myself. The issues I bring up here are not ones of race, tribal enrollment, or blood quantums. Rather, they are about attitudes and propriety.

Research Tips

If you have a lost Indian heritage, by all means pursue it. If you are part Choctaw, find out about it. If you're part Pomo, contact the Pomo tribe in California and learn what you can (I bet a lot of you have never even heard of this nation). Unfortunately though, there seems to be a lot of goofiness going on in Indian Country today. Some folks, in their quest to learn about their native roots, lose their minds. They may find out that they have a distant relative who was Indian. They then proceed to read a few books, talk to an Indian spiritual leader for hire or worse - a plastic sham-man (a non-Indian posing as a spiritual elder), learn a few Lakota words (thank you Kevin Costner), and then proceed to act as Indian (in their misguided concept of Indians) as possible. I believe that a lot of this stems from misperceptions and stereotyping. Stereotyping, whether it be in a positive or negative light, is still stereotyping. A big emphasis of this course is to shed some light, and hopefully someday we will be seen as individuals and not noble savages or TV characters. Native Americans are much like other Americans in that we all differ in our opinions of things, the way we practice our religion, etc, etc. Do not assume that all Indian people are the same.  

Forbidden Topics

  • "Indian lessons." You may see many sites on the internet where some self-appointed "chief" or medicine man/holy man/"sham-man" teaches you the secrets of native spirituality. This is strictly forbidden in this course.
  • Rehashing the past. We all know what happened in the 19th century. There is no point in revisiting that now.
  • Indian Gobbledygook. "May the Great Spirit bless your home, etc, etc." We just don't talk like that!


Before You Begin


  • READ this letter I wrote to a Listserve group I used to belong to. I really got tired of the discussion and was highly irritated when I wrote it. But basically, it's how I feel.
  • READ this letter written by Carey James, a former Indian 101 adjunct professor.
  • READ this article concerning wannabes, NewAgers, and one of their mentors Sun Bear.
  • READ this article about some folks making up their own tribe!
  • READ this article by Maggie Duval describing just why New Age appropriation angers many Native Americans.


Indian 101 Outline

Indian 101  has several modules and study aids to help you gain an insight to the reality of Indian life.  The course is self-paced. You may also go to any module in the order which best suits you. The modules are:


Once again, welcome to Indian 101 and most importantly, as the old Comanche men say, enjoy yourself.


Blue Stripe
This web site was designed and tested to use Microsoft Internet ExplorerTM 4.0 or newer, 
and Netscape 4.0 or newer. For questions or comments please contact the Dean.

Rick Kerchee Powelson
Copyright  1997 - 2005 Wise Guy Indians. All rights reserved.
Revised: July 25, 2005