Online summer course helps K-12 meet new requirements

By Adrian Aumen, College of Arts & Sciences

American-IndianPULLMAN, Wash. – To help Washington K-12 schools comply with new requirements for teaching American Indian history and culture, Washington State University is offering an online summer course closely aligned with the state-created curriculum.

North American Indian History, Pre-contact to Present (HIST 308), taught through WSU’s history department and cross-listed with Comparative Ethnic Studies (CES 375), provides much of the background and context for those who teach “Since Time Immemorial,” the newly mandated, statewide K-12 curriculum, said Orlan Svingen, WSU history professor and the course designer.

“The course gives educators a variety of teaching materials – including new lectures, secondary readings, primary sources, videos and online resources – which they can tailor to suit their needs,” he said.

Offering the course online and during the summer, when most elementary and high school educators don’t teach, is intended to make it more accessible to more people, he said. Registration is open at for the three-credit course running May 9-July 29.

Learning about Washington tribes

Passed last spring, State Senate Bill 5433 is a modification of a 2005 law that “encouraged” state school districts to incorporate the Since Time Immemorial curriculum to enhance student learning about the 29 federally recognized tribes in Washington.

The K-12 curriculum – which covers treaties, sovereignty, court rulings and other topics that tribes and neighboring communities address every day – is available online for free to school districts. Svingen’s course provides further exploration of these central topics along with updated tools for both new and veteran teachers of history and social sciences.

Washington’s new law encourages school districts to adapt the statewide curriculum to their schools and local tribes.

“A key component of the state mandate is coordination with local tribes so that children can learn about tribal history, culture and sovereignty from the perspective of the First Peoples,” said Paula Groves Price, associate dean for diversity and international programs in the WSU College of Education. “I am hopeful that educators can use the knowledge gained from the WSU history course as the first step in seeking to build relationships with their local tribes.”

“The WSU history department ( is committed to the democratic principles articulated in the university’s land-grant mission of providing accessibility and service to the people of Washington,” Svingen said. (See

HIST 308 is also among core courses for the online American Indian Studies minor/certificate program at WSU. (See


Orlan Svingen, WSU professor of history, 509-335-5205,
Frank Hill, academic adviser, WSU Department of History, 509-335-5670,