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Professor Christophe Boucher

Professor Christophe Boucher

Scholar Determined to Change Contemporary Attitudes about American Indians
By Laura Vyskocil

Sitting on the balcony of Maybank Hall, history professor Christophe Boucher beams with excitement as he discusses his passion. Not only does Boucher have tremendous enthusiasm for broadening the education of College of Charleston students about American Indians, but he also has a remarkable ideal of expanding the experiences of students.

Boucher's strong emphasis on teaching students while also gaining new knowledge himself have proved to be a great match.


Boucher's main focus is on Native Americans. His research has lead him to a book project which examines the early history of the Wyandots, a Northern Iroquoian people who deeply influenced the history of the Great Lakes region.

Just like every other imaginative 7 year old, Boucher, who was born in France and raised on American TV shows, was fond of cowboy and Indian television programs. Boucher however, never let go of his passion for Native Americans. At a young age, he was bothered that Indians were always the bad guys. Recognizing his interest in Native Americans, Boucher's parents gave him a book about Indian history. That childhood book led to the grown-up passion for Native Americans.

"When I traveled to France recently, my mother and I cleaned the attic," Boucher says. "Amazingly, I actually found my childhood American Indians book. It was simple and filled with elementary concept, but it was the start of my interest."

Many of Boucher's teaching have developed from his broad background of culture. Boucher acquired his undergraduate degree in France, where he studied English. He was then required to "study abroad" in the United States. He chose to study at the University of Montana, which has one of the best American Indian Studies programs in the nation. These studies fueled his childhood passion, which is still present today. Boucher then moved on to the University of Kansas where he completed masters and doctorate programs.

With such diverse experiences, Boucher uses modern techniques to teach his students. His method of teaching is everything but boring. Boucher prefers to teach about his favorite subject, American Indians, by using methods that are outside the box. Boucher also enjoys having student use their own ideas for assignments, as well as introducing new methods of teaching that students may have not experience in previous history classes. One student is currently working on a documentary on the historical roots of poverty on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Boucher is bursting with information about the American Indians, and he is willing to share and discuss it. Boucher shared that American Indians still live near Charleston. "Most people don't know that Indians still live near us," he says. "There are communities of American Indians, such as the Catawbas, living in South Carolina."

American Indians are a subject in history that is commonly overlooked, even by teachers. Boucher exemplified the key roles that the Native American played nationwide and how their culture has affected the United States. There is a common misconception about Indians, which was even apparent to Boucher as a child. American Indians are portrayed to be lazy or savages, explained Boucher.

"I want people to question the cultural misunderstandings they have about American Indians," Boucher says. "My role is to explain Native American actions in the context of their cultural expectations. They were not savages who behaved in an irrational way. Their behavior and historical choices were deeply rooted in their cultural norms. Once you understand these norms, Native American actions become understandable and predictable."

Many of Boucher's students are amazed by all of that they learn from him. Josh Garfinkel, one of Boucher's students currently working on a documentary project for one of Boucher's classes, commends Boucher's contemporary teaching techniques. "As interactive and humorous educator, Dr. Boucher intrigues and challenges his students," Garfinkel said.

Boucher's students are often creating documentaries, analyzing American Indian movies, or traveling for research. Boucher even has an idea of creating a traveling class, in which students would actually travel the trail of Lewis and Clark. Boucher, the father of two young children, also enjoys speaking to elementary schools on the history of American Indians.

Boucher is just one of many talented educators at the College of Charleston. He is able to clarify cultural misunderstandings, while increasing the knowledge of his students. For more information on Boucher's studies, please contact him at boucherc@cofc.edu.