Aotearoa New Zealand: Native Decolonization in the Pacific Rim

Fall 2017
Winter 2018
Spring 2018
OlympiaStudy Abroad
Olympia +
study abroad option
Class Size: 50
Credits per quarter

Compare offerings and share your lists with others.

Taught by

Native American studies
2020 Grossman, Zoltan
geography, Native American studies

Maori scholar Linda Tuhiwai Smith asserts, “Our communities, cultures, languages, and social practices—all may be spaces of marginalization, but they have also become spaces of resistance and hope.” In this program we will identify and contextualize these spaces and the politics of indigeneity and settler colonialism. We will use the Pacific Rim broadly as a geographic frame, with a focus on the Pacific Northwest Native nations and the Maori in Aotearoa (New Zealand). By concentrating on a larger region, students will have an opportunity to broaden indigenous studies beyond the Lower 48 states and explore common processes of Native decolonization in different settler societies.

A comparative study of the role of treaties in Washington state and New Zealand—in natural resources, governance, the arts, education, etc.—will provide a key framework for the program. We will study decolonization through cultural revitalization and sovereign jurisdiction of First Nations. In order to examine the central role of indigenous peoples in the region's cultural and environmental survival, we will use the lenses of geography, history, and literature.

In fall, our focus will be on familiarizing students with the concept of sovereignty, working with local Native nations, and preparing to travel to Aotearoa or elsewhere. The concept of sovereignty must be placed within a local, historical, cultural, and global context. Through theoretical readings and discussion, we will move from state-building in the U.S. and Canada to Native forms of nationalism. We will stress the complexities and intricacies of colonization and decolonization by concentrating on the First Nations of western Washington and British Columbia.

We will later expand the focus to appreciate the similarities and differences of indigenous experiences in other areas of the Pacific Rim, such as Native Alaskans, Aboriginal peoples in Australia, and South Pacific island peoples. We will emphasize common Pacific Rim concerns such as climate change, tourism, and cultural domination.

For up to seven weeks spanning the last half of winter quarter and the beginning of spring quarter, many of us will travel to Aotearoa, where we will learn in a respectful and participatory way how the Maori have been engaged in revitalizing their language, art, land, and politics, and their still unfolding, changing relationships with the Pakeha (non-Maori) people and society. Alternatively, some students will continue their studies locally. Students will learn about the ongoing effects of colonization as well as gain a foundation in theories and practices of decolonization. We will take as our basic premise in this program that those wishing to know about the history of a particular Native group should study it with a purpose to be in solidarity with these people today.

Students will develop skills as writers and researchers by studying scholarly and imaginative works, by conducting policy research and fieldwork with Native and non-Native communities, and by comparing community and government relationships in the U.S., Canada, and New Zealand. Students will be expected to integrate extensive readings, lecture notes, films, interviews, and other sources in writing assignments.

Study abroad:

Students will have the option to travel to New Zealand for up to seven weeks in the late winter to early spring quarters at a cost of approximately $6,360, including airfare. For details on study abroad, visit or contact Michael Clifthorne at .

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:

education, U.S. and tribal governments, law and nongovernmental organizations


Credits per quarter

Online learning:
  • Fall and Winter: Hybrid Online Learning - This offering delivers < 25% of its instruction online, rather than via face-to-face contact between you and your instructors.
  • Spring: Hybrid Online Learning - This offering delivers 25 - 49% of its instruction online, rather than via face-to-face contact between you and your instructors.

$145 in fall for a field trip to the Squaxin Island, Quileute, and Makah nations.

Internship Opportunities:

Internships are possible in winter and spring quarter; contact the faculty to discuss options.

Research Opportunities:

Students will be required to undertake a substantive research project that will span the late winter and early spring quarters.

Class Standing: Sophomore–Senior
Class Size: 50

Scheduled for: Day

Advertised schedule:

First class meeting: Tuesday, September 26 at 9:30am (Longhouse 1007A)

Located in: Olympia

2017-10-16Study abroad fee increased (from $5,950 to $6,360).