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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Alexandra J Harmon
AIS 201
Seattle Campus

Introduction to American Indian Histories

Survey of histories of Indians in the Uniited States from native perspectives. Presents traditional creation accounts and oral histories, archaeological, and historical evidence. Focus is cultural dynamics, considering change and continuity through prehistoric, protohistoric, colonial, and American periods.

Class description

This course is an introduction to the histories of American Indians. It makes the point that Indians of the U.S. have a common history but also many distinct histories. It touches on the historical reasons for Indians' unique status in U.S. society. And it surveys the sources and methods that enable us to see history from Indians' perspectives. By fulfilling course requirements, students should gain deeper appreciation of the fact that American Indians have been diverse, innovative, and active in shaping their own destinies. Students should also find themselves thinking about how culture changes, how people of different cultures interact, and how people develop and define their racial and ethnic identities. Course work also hones reading, writing, and analytical skills.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Four lectures a week, with opportunities for questions and discussion, plus one weekly section meeting where discussion usually focuses on readings and writing assignments.

Recommended preparation

This is an introductory class open to undergraduate students at all levels and from all disciplines.

Class assignments and grading

Students read two full-length books and a dozen shorter items -- some scholarly articles, some excerpts from historical documents, and some recorded reminiscences of Indians. Students write four very short papers (two pages each). There is a midterm exam and a final exam. Both exams involve writing essays.

Participation in section discussions contributes 10% of a student's course grade. The grade on each short paper and each exam contributes 15% of a student's course grade, although the instructor adds points to the calculated grade if the student's performance on papers and exams improves steadily over the course of the quarter. Students receive copies of the criteria used in evaluating essays.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Alexandra J Harmon
Date: 04/22/1998