Higher Education, Open Access, and Indigenous Studies

Scholarly interest in Indigenous Cultures has been around for centuries, but over the last few decades it has become both more prevalent and less paternalistic (although arguments can absolutely be made that there is plenty further to go – as evidenced by a scandal last year at UBC during which an inappropriate chant was used during frosh week and spurred a closer look at indigenous awareness programs in universities).

Most universities in Canada have an Indigenous Studies/First Nations Studies program, and they are also common in areas with similar colonial histories, like Australia, New Zealand, the USA, South Africa, and South America.

While languages are absolutely taught within these programs, that will be discussed in a different post shortly. [EDIT: see that post here!]

However, open access courses on Indigenous histories and culture can be a bit harder to find. Luckily, they are growing in popularity, and several are currently available/have been available recently/ or will be available soon.

  • Australia-based Open 2 Study has a MOOC entitled Indigenous Studies: Australia and New Zealand that began this past October and focuses on Maori, Aboriginal, and Torres Straight Islander histories, languages, issues, and more.
  • The University of Toronto put together a MOOC that debuted on Coursera in 2013 called Aboriginal Worldviews and Education that looked at how Indigenous knowledge has been affected by Western educational systems, and how assimilation, treaties, provincial education, and residential and boarding schools.
  • Art + Reconciliation was an “RMOOC” [I believe the r is for Reconciliation, but am looking for a confirmation on that] done through Thompson Rivers University, and later continued as a Summer Program at UBC. It features Aboriginal Activist Art, and was a series of events and projects rather than a linear course. While the RMOOC is no longer running, the website has a great deal of information and some wonderful artwork.
  • Reconciliation Through Open Education is a MOOC put together by Dr. Jan Hare, a Professor in Indigenous Education at UBC, and Sara Davidson, a PhD student at UBC in Language and Literacy. It will focus on indigenous education initiatives, primarily in Canada and Australia, and how important those are to reconciliation. It will be run through the Harvard/ MIT EdX website, and will begin January 2015.


There are also a large number of journals devoted to Indigenous Studies, and some of them are open access.

  • Project MUSE has some open access resources, which can be accessed by selecting the “only resources I have full access to” button on the sidebar.
  • The International Indigenous Policy Journal is more business/governmental perhaps than academic, but all of its articles are open access, and it is an excellent resource.
  • The International Journal of Indigenous Health is another open access journal that focuses on Indigenous content, and it is peer-reviewed and fully edited, which resolves some of the concerns around legitimacy that are voiced about open access texts. It is supported by the University of Victoria in Victoria, BC, Canada.
  • The Journal of Indigenous Social Development focuses on the Indigenous people of Hawaii, and is supported by the University of Hawaii at Manoa through their Social Work school. It is an excellent resource, and has a great deal of relevance for indigenous communities worldwide.
  • MAI Journal – A New Zealand Journal of Indigenous Scholarship is published by Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga, New Zealand’s Māori Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE). It focuses on Maori and Oceanic issues, and is funded in part by the University of Auckland.  They also publish AlterNative which has a more global perspective.

This a selection of what is available, and all of these resources are ones that I have looked over and look forward to using in the future. I will update with another page as soon as I compile another list!


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