Skip to Content
Programs : Brochure
This page is the brochure for your selected program. You can view the provided information for this program on this page and click on the available buttons for additional options.
Indian Country: Indigenous Culture and Religion in the Southwest, US
Grand Canyon, United States; Hopi Reservation, Second Mesa, AZ, United States; Phoenix, AZ, United States; Santa Fe, NM, United States;
Program Terms: May Experience
This program is currently not accepting applications.
Restrictions: Furman applicants only
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
May Experience 2014 02/03/2014 
Rolling Admission 05/13/2014 06/03/2014

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Applicants will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.

Indicates that deadline has passed
Fact Sheet:
Program Type: Faculty-led Language of Instruction: English
Faculty Director or Program Advisor: Brian Siegel - Anthropology, Helen Lee Turner - Religion Areas of Study: Anthropology, History, Poverty Studies, Religion, Sociology
Type of Course Credit: Furman course credit Credit Hours Per Term: 2 credits
Applicable Financial Aid: Study Away Scholarship Housing: Hotel
Program Description:



Traveling within the borders of the continental US, this May Experience will take students into four Indian nations that are as different as anything seen overseas—including places 60 miles away from any fast food restaurants.  Students will be among a small number of non-Indians who will attend traditional Hopi religious dances and talk with tribal elders.   By the light of a full moon and with a Navajo guide, travelers will see the side of Monument Valley not recorded in the famous westerns filmed there.  An eerie boat ride on Lake Powell through what should be a desert ends at Rainbow Arch, a sacred Navajo rock formation. In Chaco Canyon, under a very dark night sky, we will experience what ancient astronomers used to inform the people’s religious worldview.  These and other adventures along with urban experiences and museum visits in Phoenix, Albuquerque, and Santa Fe make for a full trip.

The location is central to the course.  On the Hopi reservation students will experience being in a place within the continental US where there are no fast-food restaurants and no supermarkets within 60 miles.  They will see traditional dances which are not performed for tourists but are done with religious fervor, dances which nevertheless are likely a vanishing phenomenon.  They will be able to talk directly with tribal people.  The plan is that they will also have dinner at least two evenings in Hopi homes.  These are not things that could be learned from a book. Sailing on Lake Powell past desert vistas in order to get to Rainbow Arch, sacred to the Navajo, allows one to see the way in which whites have altered the environment as well as the culture. The cliff dwelling remains and other native ruins which we will visit on other parts of the trip will allow students to see the ancient sophistication of these cultures.  The night star gazing experience at Chaco Canyon will allow students to see the night sky in much the way these traditional cultures did hundreds of years ago.


REL - 276  Indigenous Culture and Religion in the Southwest, US: Study of Navajo, Nopi, and Pueblo Cultures through visits to museums, archaeological sites, and reservation villages. Students attend traditional corn dances and visit various sacred sites, homes, schools, churses, medical facilities, and corn fields.  (2 credits).

Additional Information: This course will build on the University’s Ultimate Questions and World Cultures requirements.  Students will have first-hand experiences in cultures that understand the sacred in a way quite unlike that of Christians.  And the matrilineal culture that does not believe in private property is as much a different world as one that students might find across an ocean.


This course will be open to all students.  There are no prerequisites.  Religion or Anthropology majors or Poverty Studies minors might be especially interested, but we do not think interest would be limited to those groups. Maturity and a willingness to engage a new culture will be the most important criteria.  An attitude of respect will be important in the villages.  This trip will also involve a certain amount of closeness and limited free time.  The course revolves around site visits and meeting traditional people.  And even when there is nothing scheduled, there will be few places to go.   Certain rules will need to be obeyed.   Alcohol is against the law for everyone on the Navajo, Hopi, and Pueblo reservations.


We will be staying mostly at hotel chains except when on the reservation. On the reservation, we will stay at the Hopi Cultural Center which has motel-style rooms.   Most meals during the week on the reservation will also be at the Cultural Center.  Other times will have mostly fast food lunches and low cost dinners.  This is not a slow food trip.  We do hope to arrange two family meals on the reservation.  We have included breakfasts plus a twenty dollar a day allowance for meals for students.   Food choices are at times VERY limited.  Vegetarians will be fine, but this is not a situation where unusual needs will be easily met.  There will be NO kosher food.  On a few occasions we will need to pack a lunch.

The water is safe, even on the reservation, at least at the cultural center.  We will advise against drinking water in the villages that may come from wells.  Bottled water is available. 

There is free internet at the cultural center, but phone service on the reservation is limited




  • Optional souvenirs

This program is currently not accepting applications.