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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Alexandra J Harmon
HSTAA 446
Seattle Campus

American Indian Economic History

Surveys and analyzes the history of American Indians' economic challenges and strategies. Topics include the economic cultures of indigenous North American societies, the impacts of European colonization and U.S. government policies, and tribal strategies aimed at improving Indians' economic circumstances. Offered: jointly with AIS 446.

Class description

The concept of economic culture, economic cultures of some indigenous societies in North America, economic repercussions of Europeans' arrival in North America, early Native economic adaptations to Europeans' presence, colonists' appropriation of Native resources and other causes of Native economic dependency, economic aspects of U.S. government Indian policies and impacts of federal laws governing Indians, Indian participation in wage labor, other recent Indian economic strategies.

Student learning goals

Become familiar with the origins of contemporary economic challenges facing American Indians and U.S. policy makers;

Understand why and how Indian and non-Indian economic concerns have been and continue to be intertwined;

Gain appreciation of the ways that economic cultures (values, beliefs, practices) can vary from society to society;

Gain increased understanding of the relationships between political power and economic condition;

Strengthen reading, writing, and critical analysis skills; enhancing the ability to think historically and see history's relevance to the present.

General method of instruction

Some lectures; frequent student/instructor discussion of readings, including occasional short primary source readings handed out in class; possible go-post discussion board participation; student debates of selected issues.

Recommended preparation

Previous college coursework in at least one of the following areas is strongly recommended: U.S. history, American Indian history or ethnohistory, economics, economic anthropology.

Class assignments and grading

Readings (up to 100 pages per week) in two books, a photocopied coursepak, and some on-line articles; two short graded essays focused on the assigned readings; a take-home final essay exam; occasional short assignments (some involving writing, some requiring oral participation) on a credit/no-credit basis.

Grade for each of the following will constitute 20% of the course grade: first essay, second essay, final exam, concluding debate, and class participation (including the credit/no-credit assignments).


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: 01/25/2011