Note: This is a student project from a course affiliated with the Ethnography of the University Initiative. EUI supports faculty development of courses in which students conduct original research on their university, and encourages students to think about colleges and universities in relation to their communities and within larger national and global contexts.

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Title:What We Don't Know about Indians
Author(s):Tenoso, Genevieve
Subject(s):Native American
Cultural Houses
Abstract:In 2002 the Native American House was finally granted space and allotted resources to begin forming Native student services and programming, and outlined plans for the development of American Indian studies began to solidify. And in 2007 the Board of Trustees passed a resolution which proclaimed an end to the use of ‘chief illiniwek’ as the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign mascot. It is against the backdrop of this history that pilot research was carried out to determine, in part, to what degree students on the UIUC campus are familiar with the educational mission of American Indian studies. The pilot research conducted through interviews of individual students who are connected to the Nevada street neighborhood, which is the current location of the American Indian studies unit, demonstrates the overall lack of knowledge about the American Indian studies program at UIUC. Both students who worked in outreach positions to cultural houses on Nevada street and students who were interviewed in spaces on that street were unfamiliar with the academic unit even though most had some familiarity with the cultural Native American House. Impressions of the Native American House suggested that there was a tendency for students to collapse all of the various Nevada street houses into one category as “cultural” houses, which levels their differences.
Issue Date:2008-02-14
Course / Semester:ANTH 411: Methods for Sociocultural Anthropology, Prof. Nancy Abelmann. This course introduced students to a variety of ethnographic methods. Students tried their hand at some of these methods through a focused project. I had students think about their semester-long work as "pilot research"; although they did write up a short paper on their findings (their "discuss" section of the database), the culminating assignment was a research proposal in which they envision building on their preliminary findings in a longer/larger project. In the beginning of the semester, students did some warm-up exercises not directly related to their projects (an observation, an analysis of a university document, and an interview) -- some students elected to remove these from their databases while others left them in because of their connection to the final project. Students' "question" and "plan" sections of the database include multiple entries as I encouraged them to continue to refine these over the course of the semester in dialogue with their own emerging findings. I also asked students to search both the U of I Student Life and Cultures Archives and well as this EUI IDEALS collection to find archives relevant to their pilot/proposed research. All students were asked to "reflect" on the research experience and to make "recommendations" to the University on the basis of their research findings. The course syllabus is available at:
Publication Status:unpublished
Date Available in IDEALS:2008-02-14

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

  • Diversity on Campus/Equity and Access
    This collection examines ways in which the U.S. university and the American college experience are affected by diversity, and difference. In particular, these student projects examine experiences of diversity on campus, including important contemporary social, cultural, and political debates on equity and access to university resources.
  • University Units and Institutional Transformation
    Projects in this collection explore institutional growth and change as seen in the histories and practices of university units and programs.

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