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This paper is an opinion piece on a contemporary issue facing Native peoples/ nations. You will be required to explain an issue facing specific Native nation or community in the Americas, place it in historical context, take a position on the issue, make detailed arguments (drawing on both historical and contemporary information) to support your position, discuss specific article(s) from the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that support your position, and specify particular actions that you believe should be taken to address the issue. Your paper should serve to educate and persuade the reader.

Assignment Structure

Introduction: Introduce issue of focus. Why is this issue something that your readers need to understand and focus on today? Your thesis statement should make an argument about how to address the issue. The following sections will allow you to provide evidence and support for your argument.

History/Context: Explain how this issue developed: who was involved, where, why, when, and how? What is the broader context for this issue that the public may not immediately understand? Be detailed and specific, offering evidence and citations for the way in which you contextualize this issue and explain how it developed over time.

Current Challenges: What is the impact of this issue on a specific Native nation or community? In addition to a description of some of the challenges generated by this issue, this section should include discussion of 1-2 relevant articles of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Please explain which UNDRIP articles are most relevant to your issue of focus, why, and explain how you think relevant institutions and/or policies should be reformed to comply with the UNDRIP.

Reflection: Why did you choose to focus on this particular issue? In what ways does your identity/personal history impact how you understand the issue?

Conclusion: Please summarize the issue, why it is a problem and what the current impacts are, and then re-state and expand upon your argument for what should be done based on the evidence presented.

There are two possible ways to approach this paper:

  • Issue: select an issue, such as high incarceration rates, explain the context of this issue, explain the depth of the problem (data), then offer examples from readings and other media explaining why this is a problem and the impact it has on specific Native communities and/or nations. Then offer particular actions (based on your research, and your learning in this class) that you believe should be taken to address the issue.
  • People: select a people, such as Winnemem Wintu, and focus on an issue they are facing, such as the proposed raise of Shasta Dam, explain the context of this issue, explain why it is a problem (offer quotes and examples), and the impact it has on their community. Then offer particular actions (based on your research, and your learning in this class) that you believe should be taken to address the issue.

Either approach is fine, as long as you are as specific as possible in discussing the issue and its impacts, providing evidence for your argument, and offering potential solutions.

Writing Guidelines

Length and Style

  • Your paper should be 5 full pages long.
  • Papers should be in 12-point font, with 1-inch margins, double-spaced.
  • Please use the subheadings (Introduction, History/Context, Current Challenges, Reflection, Conclusion)
  • Each of your paragraphs should be a complete unit with the following components:
    • Start with an engaging first sentence that draws the reader in.
    • Follow with supporting sentences
    • Conclusion and transition to the next paragraph


  • Refer to at least (2) class resources
    • Class resources are defined as anything on the syllabus (assigned readings), and include films or other media shared in class)
  • Refer to at least (2) references that are not required reading
    • One of these references must be from an academic source (book, academic journal article, or law journal). Please consider journals in Native American Studies, such as American Indian Culture and Research Journal, Native and Indigenous Studies, Wicazo Sa Review, Society for American Indian Literature, etc.—or journals that publish NAS content, such as Western Historical Quarterly, Natural Resources Journal, etc.
    • One of these references must be from a Native news source, such as Indian Country Today,, Native News Source, Native News Online, Native America Calling, a tribal newspaper, etc.

** Please note that you may use other references that come from diverse sources (film, media, etc.) but the above references are required.**

  • Put word-for-word material from sources in quotes, and cite the source author, year, and page number in parentheses immediately after. For example, if you are quoting from Power in the Telling
    • “…in Oregon, Native nations work hard to revitalize and strengthen their communities, in many cases using revenues generated by tribal casinos” (Colley 2018, 33).
    • If you are quoting someone word-for-word, please put it in quotes. For example, if you are quoting one of our guest speakers, and he/she made a statement that you wrote down word-for-word, you would put it in quotes, followed by his/her last name and the date in parentheses, for example: “The treaties were unjust” (Marci 10/4/18).
    • Even if you are not quoting word-for-word, but you are directly paraphrasing or summarizing an idea from another author, please cite the source.
  • Please do not over-quote, that is, use too many long quotations. This is to be a paper of composed by you, reflecting your understanding. You may of course use quotes from the readings, but the majority of the paper should be in your own words.
  • Please put a bibliography of sources cited at the end of the paper. In your bibliography, give us the author’s name (or speaker, if film or news clip), title of the work, publishing company, and date of publication or release. Sources listed should follow the Chicago Manual of Style Author- Date format ( )
  • If you are citing a book, list the author (last name, first name), the year, the title, the publishing location, and the publisher:
  • Wildcat, Daniel. 2009. Red Alert! Saving the Planet with Indigenous Knowledge. Golden, CO: Fulcrum Publishing.
  • If you are citing a film, list the director/producer first—this may be an institution or a person, the year, the title, production company, and location:
    • Wild, Nettie. 1998. A Place Called Chiapas. Canada: Zeitgeist Films.
  • No Wikipedia citations, please.
  • For lecture citations, list the speaker, date, title (if available), and context:
    • Lankard, Dune. 10/1/2018. “Alaska Native Conservation: A View from Eyak Country,” NAS 01, Fall 2018.
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