Indigenous-Centered Pedagogies: Strategies for Teaching Native American Literature and Culture

Annette Portillo


As a reflection on pedagogy, this essay seeks to provide strategic tools for teaching Native American literature and culture to non-native students. My teaching philosophy is informed by the indigenous-centered, decolonial methodologies as defined by Devon Mihesuah who calls for “indigenizing” the academy by challenging the status quo and debating the controversial issues that adversely affect the lives and representations of Native Americans (Indigenizing the Academy, 2004). I argue that an indigenous-centered pedagogy and multidisciplinary approach gives students the opportunity to critically examine those instances of cultural tourism and popular media stereotypes that continue to perpetuate gross misconceptions about American Indian identity and culture. In addition, I highlight the ongoing challenges that instructors face when teaching students to “unlearn” Eurocentric histories and dominant national narratives. I have taught Native American Studies courses to a wide range of students from multiple backgrounds and thus, this essay will be based on the various experiences I have had in the classroom at five different institutions in the past eight years (i.e. Ivy League, small liberal arts college, state college, and university).


Multiethnic Literature; American Literature; Native American Literature

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