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Native American Environmental Issues and the Media (367-0-20)


Patricia Ann Loew

Meeting Info

McCormick Foundation Ctr 2131: Tues, Thurs 10:30AM - 12:20PM

Overview of class

This course introduces you to Native American environmental issues, such as treaty-based hunting, fishing, and gathering rights; air and water quality issues; mining; land-to-trust issues; and sacred sites with a particular emphasis on the First Nations in the Great Lakes region. In addition, it will also provide connections to corresponding international Indigenous environmental issues, and the responses and debates across science research, news and international policy contexts.

The seminar focuses on how the media cover Native American environmental issues and how that coverage contributes to the formation of public opinion and public policy. The seminar provides the critical tools to analyze current environmental struggles; to understand the controversies within a cultural context; and to make informed decisions about issues that affect us all. The central case study of the seminar will be water and fishing rights for Indigenous Peoples, and how they are part of larger land rights issues.

Over the past two decades the issue of tribal sovereignty has become front-page news. From major confrontations over pipelines affecting Tribal Reservations mobilizing Indigenous people and their allies around the world, to battles over whaling rights and mining of tar sands, to sulfide mining adjacent to Tribal Reservations, to disputed land claims in the Northeast and battles in the West over water, fracking, and grazing, the rights of Native governments to exercise their sovereignty remains in the new century at the cultural, political, and legal core of American contemporary history.

These and many more issues—air and water quality standards, treaty rights, and land-into-trust—have contributed to tension between Native and non-Native communities, and have become the subject of news reports, in both mainstream and tribal media. The goals of this seminar are to understand how tribal sovereignty and treaty rights inform contemporary environmental issues; to identify source selection, bias, and framing in mainstream and tribal media accounts; to analyze and critique mainstream and tribal media accounts for accuracy and bias; and finally gain intercultural knowledge and competence through a final project that explores the intersection of Native environmental issues and the media.

Registration Requirements

Sophomore Standing

Class Materials (Required)


Class Notes

Includes opportunities for travel

Class Attributes

Attendance at 1st class mandatory
No Freshmen
SDG Reduced Inequality
SDG Climate Action
SDG Peace & Justice
SDG Zero Hunger
SDG Clean Water and Sanitation

Enrollment Requirements

Enrollment Requirements: Reserved for Medill Sophomores, Juniors & Seniors