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Native Cultures of British Columbia

Course Code: ANTH 1120
Faculty: Humanities & Social Sciences
Department: Anthropology
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15 weeks
Learning Format: Lecture
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

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.

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

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%

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.

curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.