Native Cultures of British Columbia

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
ANTH 1120
Native Cultures of British Columbia
Humanities & Social Sciences
Start Date
End Term
Semester Length
15 weeks
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
Lecture: 4 hrs. per week / semester
Method Of Instruction
Methods Of Instruction

The course will employ a variety of instructional methods to accomplish its objectives, including some of the following:

  • lectures
  • films, videos and slide presentations
  • guest speakers and class discussion groups may also form part of the instructional techniques for certain topics
Course Description
This course provides an overview of native cultures in British Columbia, from earliest occupation to selected modern issues. The linguistic and cultural diversity of B.C.'s First Nations will be emphasized. Particular attention will be given to the traditional cultures as they existed shortly after contact with Europeans.
Course Content

1.  Introduction

a)  Languages and language families of B.C. First Nations
b)  Anthropological approaches to the study of indigenous societies

2.  Before Written Records

a)  Earliest archaeological evidence for human occupation of British Columbia
b)  Overview of the later precontact period

3.  Northwest Coast

a)  Overview of economic pattern, material culture and technology, social organization, and ceremonial life.
b)  Northern subarea – Haida, Tlingit, and Tsimshian
c)  Wakashan subarea – Kwakwaka’ wakw and Nuu-chah-nulth
d)  Coast Salish subarea

4.  Plateau – Interior Salish and Kutenai

5.  Subarctic – the Athapaskans

6.  Historic Changes

a)  History of early contact between Europeans and B.C. First Nations
b)  Impact on native life

      • social and material changes in native cultures
      • introduced diseases and population decline
      • reserve allotment and the beginnings of Indian administration

7.  Current Issues

a)  The Indian Act and government administration
b)  Land claims and modern treaty making
c)  The movement towards self-government
d)  Problems in economic development, etc.

Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the course the student will be able to:


  1. Identify the major aboriginal languages of British Columbia, their distribution and relationship to other languages.
  2. Describe how the various sub-fields of anthropology can contribute to the study indigenous cultures, and assess the strengths and limitations of each approach.
  3. Discuss the traditional cultural patterns (including economy, social organizations, architecture and other aspects) for each of the major regions of British Columbia.  
  4. Discuss the impact on the native peoples of British Columbia of the various stages of European contact and settlement.
  5. Discuss historic federal policies of native administration in Canada and how these continue to affect First Nations in British Columbia.
  6. Discuss the historical and legal bases behind the modern treaty-making process in British Columbia.
Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be based on course objectives and will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy. The instructor will provide a written course outline with specific criteria during the first week of classes.

An example of a possible evaluation scheme would be:

First mid term exam  20%
Second mid term exam   20%
Final exam  25%
Library research paper      30%
Attendance & participation      5%
Total 100%
Textbook Materials

Textbooks and Materials to be Purchased by Students

Texts will be updated periodically.  Typical examples are:

Muckle, R. J. (2007).  The First Nations of British Columbia.  Vancouver: UBC Press.

Wa, G. and D. Uukw (1992).  The Spirit in the Land.  Gabriola Island, BC: Reflections.