Montana State University

NASX 551-801: American Indian Art Survey

May 18-Aug 07, 2015
Credit: 3 graduate
Cost: $835.50
Instructor(s) Ceilon Aspensen

Course Description

Earn an on-line NAS Graduate Certificate

Explore the functions and purposes of the unique arts of North American indigenous peoples by culture area, in both the past and the present, within the overlapping contexts of culture area, politics, cosmology, religion and spirituality, and gender.

Students will learn to recognize art objects by region and culture group, as well as understand the purposes and functions of these artifacts in indigenous culture and life. Students will also learn to appreciate Native American artwork for its aesthetic value as well as for its functional value, and will learn and apply the process of art criticism to a careful examination of the artwork. Artworks will be examined in the further context of their political, cosmological, religious and spiritual value from the point of view of the culture group by which they were created. Students will become familiar with indigenous artworks as collectible items, and learn about the unique legal issues that apply to the collection and sale of Native American art objects because of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990.

During the course of the semester, you will be graded on the following items:

Weekly Online Discussions = 30%
Midterm Paper = 30%
Final Paper/Project = 30%
Online Presentation = 10%
Total = 100%

Meeting Place and Times



Ceilon Aspensen.

Ceilon Aspensen is an adjunct instructor at MSU and taught high school art and journalism for five years at Patterson High School in Baltimore, MD. She has been an artist her entire life and earned her BFA in drawing and graphic design from Mississippi State University in 1989; in 2006 she received her MA in Native American Studies with an emphasis in Electronic Distance Education Delivery from Montana State University, and is currently working toward a PhD in American Studies with an emphasis in contemporary American Indian Art. Ceilon taught art as a volunteer and served as an art mentor in the Bozeman area prior to earning her teacher certification in 2007. While working on her MA, she was awarded the College of Letters and Sciences Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award. Ceilon has combined her unique interests in art, education, and Native American Studies to write the curriculum for this course.


Bachelor's degree

Time Commitment

9-12 hours per week. If you are unfamiliar with this field of study and/or method of delivery, you may require more time.

Tuition and Fees


If you are taking only online courses this semester, please see the MSU Online Only Tuition and Fees (PDF) table.

If you are also taking a face-to-face course, please see the MSU Fee Schedules

Required Books/Materials

  • Native North American Art
    Authors: Janet Berlo & Ruth Phillips
    ISBN: 0192842188
    Price: Approximately $25 plus shipping and handling
  • Hero, Hawk, and Open Hand
    Editors: Richard F. Townsend and Robert V. Sharp.
    ISBN: 0300106017
    Price: Approximately $40 plus shipping and handling
  • Powerful Images: Portrayals of Native America
    Authors: Boehme, Conaty, Bear, Hansen, Leslie, and Nottage
    ISBN: 0295976756
    Price: Approximately $30.00 plus shipping and handling
  • Native Universe: Voices of Indian America
    Editors: Gerald McMaster and Clifford E. Trafzer
    ISBN: 0792259947
    Price: Approximately $40 plus shipping and handling

Books may be purchased online at, or (search by ISBN number).

Approximate pricing is for NEW books. Used books may be available at a lower price from online sources.

Computer Requirements

  • Internet access
  • A device and browser that pass the system check for Brightspace LE, MSU's learning management system.

For More Information

Contact Ceilon Aspensen,

Registration Questions:
Extended University, Office of Continuing Education, 406-994-6683, toll free 1-866-540-5660,

How to Register

You must be accepted as a student to Montana State University to take this course.

Learn how to apply.

After your application has been accepted, you will register via MSU's online registration system, MyInfo.

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Once you have your PIN, learn how to register through MyInfo.

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