KU students say they are benefiting from the first class that is part of a KU-Haskell Indian Nations University faculty exchange program.
Vince Francis says American history has been "whitewashed" throughout his schooling -- until this semester.
Francis, a political science senior at Kansas University, is taking a class about Native American-U.S. government relations at KU.
The instructor, Don Bread, is the first teacher from Haskell Indian Nations University to teach at KU as part of a faculty exchange program between the two schools.
KU students say the exchange gives them a chance to learn about Native Americans from Bread's firsthand perspective.
"I really like it (the class) because it goes into things that we never learned in elementary school," said Molly O'Rourke, a senior in political science from Edina, Minn. "The way that the Native Americans have been treated -- it's less sugar-coated."
The exchange program, in the works since an agreement was signed between KU and Haskell in 1991, allows both schools to use the strengths of the other in teaching, said David Shulenburger, KU vice chancellor for academic affairs.
In Bread's class, that means students are concentrating on Native American issues for the first time in an educational setting.
"When we first started I asked, 'How many of you have ever taken a course about Indian people and their issues and concerns?'" Bread said. "In elementary, junior high and high school, not one person had."
He said that another student asked if the class would be "slanted" toward Native American concerns.
"I asked him, 'Haven't you heard the other side all throughout American history? Hasn't U.S. history been slanted toward the U.S. government?'
"The thing I like about it," Bread said of the class, "is I see this as a tremendous opportunity. I might have an impact on Indian affairs in the future.
"One of these students might be president or a representative or someone who has to make a decision."
The class, students say, helps dispel stereotypes and outline issues from a Native American perspective.
During one of the classes this week, Bread strived to distinguish between legal and moral issues in various topics, and encouraged students to express their opinions, even if he did not share those opinions.
"I don't want you to agree with me," he said. "I want you to examine the issues and express how you feel about them."
As part of the class, students discuss current events such as Indian gambling, tax regulations on Indian land and cultural issues.
"I think there should be more courses like this, and I think they should be required," Francis said. "There's too much racial hatred. ... There needs to be a better understanding of history than what we've been taught."
Bread said he had expected fewer than 20 people to enroll in the class, but about 50 students are in the class, an upper-level elective.