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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Christopher D. Herbert
HSTAA 415
Seattle Campus

History of Indian-White Relations in Anglo-America

Explores the wide variety of interactions in North America, ranging from close alliances to outright warfare, between Native Americans and Europeans and their descendants from contact through the removal of most of the remaining eastern Indians to land west of the Mississippi River during the 1830s.

Class description

The history of Native-Newcomer interactions in North America has often been characterized as a series of military alliances and conquests that allowed White settlers to progressively advance and push Natives westward and, eventually, into irrelevance. This narrative doesn't tell us how Natives responded to settler society, how they vigorously defended their resources, cultures, and identities, or how they staged a remarkable resurgence in the 1960s and 70s.

This course will question many of the assumptions of the traditional narrative to see how Natives and Newcomers interacted in a wide variety of contexts from contact until the present day. Organized around the common theme of intercultural contact, we will examine the social, cultural, economic, religious, and geo-political ties that both bound Natives and Newcomers together and pushed them apart.

Covering a broad swath of time from contact to the present, this course will discuss images of the other, cultural change and continuity, economic interactions, intermarriage, conflict, and warfare.

To do so, we will find out what really happened to John Smith in Virginia, learn how the Huron Confederacy played the English and French off of each other, see how the Plains were affected by colonialism long before any white men showed up, and look at documents relating to the attempts to exterminate Natives in California and the attempts to extinguish Native behaviour in residential schools. We will look at how Anglo-American society has imagined Indians, and how Natives have sought to define themselves. Finally, we will finish by examining some questions of present concern: What does it mean to be Indian in America? Are Natives "citizens-plus"? Do authentic Indians drive power boats or own casinos?

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Class time will be mostly lecture with discussion and group work.

Recommended preparation

While previous experience in history courses, particularly U.S. or American Indian history, will be useful, they are not required.

Class assignments and grading

The course will be predominately lecture, with frequent discussions.

Grades will be based on attendance, participation, midterm, final, and writing assignment.


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 Christopher D. Herbert
Date: 05/24/2008