Spring 2023

Researching the Dakota Iapi (Language) in History, Culture, and Literature

Listed in: Colloquia, as COLQ-260


Kiara M. Vigil (Section 01)


Working with rare Dakota-language texts, like the newspaper “Iapi Oaye,” in the Kim-Wait/Eisenberg Native American Literature Collection as well as books by Dakota authors Charles Eastman and Ella Cara Deloria that were printed in English, this class enables students to do original research that uncovers the links between language (iapi), nation (oyate), and the strategies of survival Dakota people have used to resist colonial efforts to remove and erase them. By drawing on interdisciplinary tools from Native American and Indigenous studies students will also build connections between history, literature, linguistics, and ethnography to deepen their understandings of Dakota language and culture from the past to the present. Our approach to research will begin with Shaun Wilson’s book Research Is Ceremony: Indigenous Research Methods and will look for models in historical studies, such as, Dakota in Exile by Linda Clemmons and Through Dakota Eyes: Narrative Accounts of the Minnesota Indian War of 1862, and the award-winning Translated Nation: Rewriting the Dakhota Oyate by Chris Pexa, which brings together the literary works and oral histories of Dakota intellectuals. We will collaborate in producing our own translations of material from “Iapi Oaye” by looking at examples of Dakota-language translations like The Dakota Prisoners of War Letters: Dakota Kaskapi Okicize Wowapi by Clifford Canku and Michael Simon. Students will also work with texts by Deloria and Eastman to discover how these authors incorporated Dakota epistemologies in their writings for non-Native audiences. During the summer, students will have the opportunity to dive more deeply into various archived materials in the KWE Collection, written in both Dakota and English, and take an immersive (online and free) Dakota language course, so they can breathe life into the language themselves by speaking it. This summer work will also involve generating content that will be shared in a public website to make this history and these texts more widely accessible and available.

This course is part of a model of tutorials at Amherst designed to enable students to engage in substantive research with faculty in the humanities and humanistic social sciences.

Limited to seven students. Open to sophomores and juniors. Spring semester. Professor Vigil.

How to handle overenrollment: Priority given to sophomores and students majoring in American Studies or completing the Five College Native American and Indigenous Studies Certificate.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: independent archival research, oral presentations, collaborative group work, field trips, website design, readings, discussion, and written work.

COLQ 260 - LEC

Section 01
F 12:00 PM - 2:30 PM MORG 110


2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2023