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Native American Studies Program


7. First-Year Seminars in Native American Studies

Consult special listings

8. Perspectives in Native American Studies

10F: 10 11S: 12

The growing field of Native American Studies is inherently interdisciplinary. This course gives an overview of the relevant intellectual and cultural questions of tribal expression, identity, traditional thought, continuity, and sovereignty. Using readings from the areas of literature, philosophy, visual arts, anthropology, philosophy of history, and cultural and political discourse, we will examine how their discourses are used to promote or inhibit the ongoing project of colonialism in indigenous communities and lives.

Open to all classes. Dist: SOC; WCult: CI. Palmer.

10. Peoples and Cultures of Native North America (Identical to Anthropology 4)

12W: 2

The course provides an introduction to the peoples and cultures of Native North America. A single indigenous group (nation) from different “culture areas” is highlighted to emphasize particular forms of economy, social organization, and spirituality. The course focuses on the more traditional American Indian cultures that existed before the establishment of Western domination, as well as on the more recent native culture history and modern-day economic, sociopolitical and cultural continuity, change, and revitalization. Open to all classes. Dist: SOC; WCult: NW. Kan.

11. Ancient Native Americans (Identical to Anthropology 11)

Not offered in the period from 10F through 12S

This course provides an introduction to the pre-Columbian societies of North America. Discussion begins with a consideration of the wider social context of archaeological views of Native Americans and how these have changed over time. We briefly review the enormous diversity in language; economic, social, and political organization; and religion of Native American societies at the time of European contact. The course moves back in time to examine the populating of the Americas and related controversies. We then concentrate on the subsequent development of diverse pre-Columbian societies that included hunter-gatherer bands in the Great Basin, the Arctic, and the sub-Arctic; Northwest Coast chiefdoms; agricultural societies of the Southwest, such as Chaco Canyon and the desert Hohokam; and the mound-building societies of the Eastern Woodlands.

Open to all classes. Dist: SOC; WCult: NW. Nichols.

14. The Invasion of America: American Indian History Pre-Contact to 1830 (Identical to History 14)

11F: 10

This course surveys the history of the American Indians from contact with Europeans to c. 1830. It provides an overview of the major themes and trends in Indian history, supplemented by case studies from a number of regions and readings that illuminate particular issues. The overall context of the course is the conflict generated by the colonial drive of European nations and the U.S. and their citizens, but the primary focus is the historical experience of Indian peoples and their struggles to retain their cultures and autonomy while adapting to great changes in the conditions of their lives.

Open to all classes. Dist: SOC; WCult: NW. Calloway.

15. American Indian History: 1830 to Present (Identical to History 15)

10F, 12S: 10

This course surveys the history of the American Indians from the year 1830 to the pre-sent day. It provides an overview of the major themes and trends in Indian history, supplemented by case studies from a number of regions and readings that illuminate particular issues. The overall context of the course is the expansion of the U.S., the ‘Indian poli-cies’ adopted by the U.S. government, but the primary focus is the historical experience of Indian peoples and their struggles to retain their cultures and autonomy while adapting to great changes in the conditions of their lives.

Open to all classes. Dist: SOC; WCult: NW. Madley (10F), Calloway (12S).

22. Native American Lives

11W: 2

In the past, American Indian history and experience have usually been taught through the lens of the dominant culture, while ignoring the accounts that Indian people have presented in their own words. This course will examine some key issues in Native American history and culture reflected in the biographies and autobiographies of individual American Indians. Their life stories, some contemporary and some historical, will help us understand the forces affecting the world of Native people, and how they shaped their own lives in response. Many early (auto)biographies are “as-told-to” narratives. Consequently, as a point of methodology, we will take time to consider the role, motives, and the effect of the amanuensis (the recorder of an oral narrative) on the story, and as a mediator of Native experience.

Open to all classes. Dist: SOC; WCult: CI. Palmer.

25. Indian Country Today

10F: 11

This course introduces students to Indian Country by way of exploring contemporary issues of importance to American Indians. Students will begin by examining briefly the concept of “tribal sovereignty” and the role it has, and continues to have, in driving tribal politics. Students will then broaden their understanding of Indian Country by exploring practical issues such as: American Indian political activism, repatriation of sacred objects and remains, American Indian water rights, hunting and fishing rights, gaming in Indian Country, education, and contemporary American Indian arts.

Open to all classes. Dist: SOC; WCult: NW. Duthu.

30. Special Topics in Native American Studies

Not offered in the period from 10F through 11X

32. Indian Killers: Murder and Mystery in Native American Literature and Film (Identical to English 67.9)

11W: 11

This course explores the abundant crime fiction and murder mysteries by contemporary Native American artists. These works imagine a democratized space where colonial violence is avenged, American law is malleable, and intellect triumphs over racism. While most critics applaud such decolonizing efforts, we will ask more difficult questions: do these sensational narratives do real cultural work? Do they suggest that colonial violence begets only more violence? And in the end, who are its true victims?

Open to all classes. Dist. LIT; WCult: CI. Benson.

34. Native American Oral Tradition Literatures (Identical to English 60, section 8)

11W: 10

Native American oral literatures constitute a little-known but rich and complex dimen-sion of the American literary heritage. This course will examine the range of oral genres in several tribes. Since scholars from around the world are studying oral literatures as sources of information about the nature of human creativity, the course will involve examining major theoretical approaches to oral texts.

Dist: LIT; WCult: NW. Palmer.

35. Native American Literature (Identical to English 45)

11S: 11

Published Native American writing has always incorporated a cross-cultural perspective that mediates among traditions. The novels, short stories, and essays that constitute the Native American contribution to the American literary tradition reveal the literary potential of diverse aesthetic traditions. This course will study representative authors with particular emphasis on contemporary writers.

Open to all classes. Dist: LIT; WCult: NW. Benson.

36. Indigenous Nationalism: Native Rights and Sovereignty (Identical to Government 60)

11F: 12

This course focuses on the legal and political relationship between the indigenous peoples of Canada, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand and their respective colonial governments. Students will examine contemporary indigenous demands for self-government, especially territorial claims, within the context of the legislative and political practices of their colonial governments. The course will begin with an examination of the notion of Aboriginal self-government in Canada and develop it in light of the policy recommendations found in the report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1996). Using the Canadian experience as a benchmark, students will then compare these developments to indigenous peoples’ experiences in the United States, Australia and New Zealand. An important theme of the course will be to develop an international approach to the issue of indigenous rights and to explore how colonial governments are responding to indigenous demands for justice.

Not open to first-year students without permission of instructor. Dist: SOC or INT; WCult: NW. Turner.

37. Alaska: American Dreams and Native Realities (Identical to Anthropology 47)

11S: 2 12W: 10

Since the time the United States “purchased” Alaska from Russia, this land has been seen by many as the “last frontier”—a place where tough and adventurous Euro-Americans could strike it rich or get away from the negative consequences of civilized living. Using anthropological and historical works as well as fiction, film and other media, this class explores the mythology surrounding the “land of the midnight sun.” This myth of the last frontier—in its development—driven as well as conservationist versions—is also contrasted with the ways Native Alaskans have viewed and lived on their land.

Open to all classes. Dist: SOC; WCult: CI. Kan.

41. Native American Literature and the Law

11S: 9L

The Acoma Pueblo poet Simon Ortiz once noted that “because of the insistence to keep telling and creating stories, Indian life continues, and it is this resistance against loss that has made life possible.” The regenerative and reaffirming force of tribal stories has been most severely tested when confronted by the overwhelming and often destructive power of federal law in Indian affairs. The complex matrix of legal and political relations between Indian tribes and the federal government thus serves as a singularly important arena to examine contested notions of national identity, sovereignty, relationships to lands and people, and concepts of justice. Students will read literary texts produced by Native authors and legal texts involving Indian tribes in an effort to understand how the Native production of stories contributes to the persistence of tribalism in contemporary Native America.

Open to Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors. Dist: Lit; WCult: CI . Duthu.

45. American Indian Intellectuals

11S: 12

This seminar surveys some of the prominent voices in American Indian intellectual culture from the 1960s to the present. The seminar will examine four “kinds” of American Indian intellectuals in order to make better sense of what an American Indian intellectual is, and more importantly, what does it mean for one to be part of an American Indian intellectual culture? The course will explore the work of tribal leaders, American Indian scholars, artists and writers, and Native women.

Permission of Instructor required. Dist: TMV; WCult: NW. Turner.

47. Contemporary Native American Poetry (Identical to English 67, section 13)

Not offered in the period from 10F through 11S

Muscogee poet, Joy Harjo, states that Native peoples are “...still dealing with a holocaust of outrageous proportion in these lands...Many of us at the end of the century are using the ‘enemy’s language’ with which to tell our truths, to sing, to remember ourselves during these troubled times.” This course examines the ways contemporary American Indian poets employ literary gestures of resistance to the ongoing effects of colonization, and how their poetry contributes to the survival of tribal memory and the regeneration of tribal traditions and communities. We examine the influence of oral tradition and ritual life upon contemporary poets, as well as the position Native American poetic “voice” occupies in contemporary postcolonial discourse.. Open to all classes. Dist. LIT; WCult: CI. Palmer.

48. Indians and European Political Thought: 1492-1832

10F: 10A

This course surveys European political theory in early colonial America. The course is broadly divided into three parts: first, the so-called “Discovery of the New World” in 1492; second, the 17th and 18th century social contract theories of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau; and finally, the early 19th century Marshall cases that laid the foundation for American Indian law in the United States. Dist: TMV; WCult: W. Turner.

49. The Land of the Totem Poles: Native Peoples of the Northwest Coast (Identical to Anthropology 25)

Not offered in the period from 10F through 12S

With their complex social organization, elaborate ceremonies, fascinating mythology, and flamboyant “art,” the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast represent a truly unique “culture area” of Native North America. The course surveys several cultures of this region (from the coast of Oregon to southeastern Alaska), drawing upon early travelers’ accounts, anthropological works, native testimony, artifacts from the Hood Museum of Art, and films. Lectures, class discussions, and student presentations will deal with the “classic” Northwest Coast cultures of the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries as well as their modern versions. Open to all classes. Dist: SOC; WCult: NW. Kan.

50. Native Americans and the Law (Identical to Government 69)

11S: 10A

This course will focus on the constitutional, statutory and jurisprudential rules of law that make up the field of Federal Indian Law. Attention will be given to the historical framework from which the rules were derived. After tracing the development of the un-derlying legal doctrines that are prominent today, the course will turn to a consideration of subject-specified areas of Indian law, including hunting and fishing rights, water rights, and preservation of religious and cultural rights.

Open to sophomores, juniors and seniors. Dist: SOC; WCult: NW. Duthu.

80. Advanced Seminars in Native American Studies

11S: 10A

In 11S, Bear Clan Texts. Wherever Ursidae Carnivora finds a natural habitat, the indigenous peoples of these geographies honor and acknowledge the Bear in particular ways, central to individual and cultural expression. This course engages various texts that feature Bear imagery in traditional stories, songs, and ritual representations—all vehicles that transmit both sacred and practical knowledge. We use readings in mythopoetics, performance narratives, nature writing, some early ethnographic accounts and recordings, environmental literature, and the contemporary writing of several Native American authors. Discussions about the tribal significance of the Bear are a means to examine ontological distinctions between human self and animal, and contemporary notions of human consciousness within the natural world. We also discuss how concepts of “wildness” and “wilderness,” and ideas about “control” and “freedom” are expressed within imaginative and geographical spaces.

Open to Juniors and Seniors with written permission of the instructor.

Dist: LIT; WCult: NW. Palmer. (Will fulfill NAS 81 requirements in 11S).

81. Senior Seminars in Native American Studies (also see NAS 45)

11W: 10A 12W: 2A

In 11W at 10A, Native American History in the U.S. West, 1500-1890: Contact, Conflict, and Survival (Identical to History 96) .This seminar involves the close reading and discussion of recent prize-winning books about the history of Native Americans in the trans-Mississippi West. Students will also write a substantial historiographic or research paper. Over-arching themes include adaptation, agency, resistance, victimization, violence and survival. By studying different historical case studies we will carefully analyze what factors shaped the nature of different interactions between newcomers and Native Americans while exploring how those histories echo into the present. Dist: SOC; WCult: NW. Madley.

In 12W at 2A, American Odysseys: Lewis and Clark, Native Americans and the New Nation (Identical to History 96, Section 1). From 2004-2006, the United States commemorated the Lewis and Clark Expedition, in which the “Corps of Discovery” led by Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark completed a remarkable odyssey, journeying from St. Louis across the “new” American West, to the Pacific Ocean, and back. Like the Columbian Quincentennial of 1992, this anniversary needs to be considered from a variety of perspectives, to try and understand the different experiences and meanings of the event for the various people involved. The expedition ushered in a new world for both the young United States and the Indian peoples of the American West. This seminar will examine the context, experiences, and repercussions of the expedition. We will focus on the journals Lewis and Clark recorded.

Open to Juniors and Seniors with written permission of the instructor. Dist: SOC; WCult: NW. Calloway.

85. Independent Study in Native American Studies

All Terms: Arrange

This course is designed for students who wish to pursue in depth some subject in Native American Studies not currently offered at the College. Students may not register for independent study until they have discussed their topic with the instructor, and have a course permission card signed by the Chair. Please consult the rules and regulations for NAS 85 in the Program office.

Prerequisite: at least two Native American Studies courses. The Chair.

86. Independent Research in Native American Studies

All Terms: Arrange

This course is designed for a student who wishes to research a particular problem in greater depth than is possible in an Independent Study course (NAS 85). The Chair must give approval, and a faculty advisor will be assigned to each student to supervise the work through regular class meetings. Usually a formal paper embodying the results of the research is required. A student wishing to enroll in this course must first discuss the topic with a faculty member, who will serve as research advisor, and then submit a formal research proposal to the Program.

Prerequisite: at least three Native American Studies courses. The Chair.

87. Native American Studies Honors

All Terms: Arrange

This course is open only to majors and double majors by arrangement with the Chair. The course requires the completion of a formal thesis. Please consult the rules for this course in the Native American Studies Program office.

Prerequisite: Native American Studies 85, 86, and permission of the Chair of the pro-gram and the faculty member who will be advising the student. The Chair.