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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Gary J. Witherspoon
AIS 317
Seattle Campus

North American Indians: The Southwest

Overview of history and ethnography of the Southwest with emphasis on Apacheans, Pueblos, and Pimans/Yumans. Social organization, religion, worldview, and expressive culture of such specific groups as Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, Tewa, and Tohono O' odham.

Class description

The catalog description of this course is out of date. Course content does not focus on the Yumans or the Tewa. The course starts with the archaeology of the Southwest, emphasizing how this archaeology informs contemporary ethnography and how contemporary ethnography informs traditional archaeology. The overall focus of the course is learning how to see the world from Indigenous Southwest perspectives. I call AIS 317 a journey in empathy. It covers the history and world view of the Zuni, the Hopi, the Navajo, the Apache and the Tohono O'odham. In depth study of the Hopi and Navajo form the core of the course. In this journey of empathy, students read autobiographies of two persons, one of whom is either Hopi (Sun Cheif) or Zuni (Zuni Man-Woman), and one of whom is Navajo (Bighorse the Warrior) or Tohono O'odham (Papago Woman). All four of these persons were born in the 19th century.

More course content can be found on my website at

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Lectures are supplemented with extensive visual imagery and films, as well as the personal experience of the teacher. All lectures are done with Keynote slides, Apple Computer's power point type presentation program, incorporating photos and videos in these presentations. Copies of the lecture slides and videos will be on line at, and possibly made available to students through reserve desk at the media center of the undergrad library as well.

Recommended preparation

A serious desire to walk in the moccasins of persons from a different culture and historical experience. The class is an exercise in empathy, transporting oneself into the Indigenous histories and cultures of the Southwest.

Class assignments and grading

Read two biographies/autobiographies and write a 2-4 page response to each. These are the only reading assignments other than a couple of suggested essays. There will be two exams, consisting 60 points for objective questions and 40 points for one or two essay questions. The essay questions will likely be take home questions. Upon request I will give writing or W credit for students who complete all of their writing assignments in an acceptable manner.

Exams 60%, papers 30% and classroom participation and contribution 10%.

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 Gary J. Witherspoon
Date: 02/22/2012