Course Development in American Indian Studies: A Basic Qualitative Research Design

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The problem was a lack of consultation from American Indian Studies scholars, tribal leaders, and from specific data sources when courses in the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) were created. The purpose of the basic qualitative research design was to provide a voice from experts in American Indian Studies and addresses the problem when pre-existing knowledge existed regarding the courses being taught in American Indian culture, history, and society. American Indian Studies needed to be examined from the perspective of experts. Allowing Indigenous leaders to present various insights and concerns regarding American Indian Studies courses, which are not present in the literature, filled the research gap in knowledge. Constructivism was the theoretical framework. Purposive and snowball sampling were used to retrieve data from 53 sources, including community colleges, tribal community leaders, American Indian Studies scholars, and Virginia Indian tribe websites, which are the best fit in terms of people, organizations, and resources to extract specific information. Two instruments for data collection were used: an internet search for specific documents, and online, open-ended questions via email and SurveyMonkey. Research Question 1 addressed the program objectives for American Indian Studies courses. Research Question 2 addressed the current issues, policies, and other challenges pertaining to American Indians. Manual analysis and NVivo software were used in categorizing the information. Data saturation provided four themes: (a) accurate historical content, (b) cultural traditions, (c) the importance of Indigenous languages, and (d) government relations, which provide opportunities to maintain self-sufficient tribal governments on reservations. Keywords: American Indian, Indigenous, Constructivist, American Indian Studies, Sovereignty, Decolonization