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COURSE NAME: "Native American History and Traditions"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2023

INSTRUCTOR: Andrea Lanzone
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 1:30 PM 2:45 PM

This course aims to broaden students’ understanding of the history, culture, and contemporary situations of Native Americans. The course uses historical, literary, and anthropological analysis to explore American Indian life and culture. It also examines the contemporary legal and social institutions that affect Native American life. Topics treated include: history of the indigenous peoples of North, Central, and South America, Native American religion, Native American economic development, and Native American oral and written literatures.

Satisfies "Early Modern History" or "Modern History" core course requirement for History majors.

The course is intended to provide a study of American Indians from a humanistic viewpoint in order to present an opportunity for critical analysis and evaluation of the experience, perspectives and continued evolution of Native cultures. Students are expected to analyze the complexities of diversity and the many unsolved issues of marginalization, exclusion and lack of social justice that unfortunately are still rooted in various Native Americans’ reservations. They will be able to identify, evaluate, and use information to think critically about these issues that are still affecting American Indian people’s life. Students’ active participation in discussions is absolutely necessary to making the course work well. There will be two class meetings per week. Lectures will be followed by questions and discussion. All assigned readings should be completed before each class meeting.







This course provides the student with an introductory and general understanding of the History and Traditions of Native Americans in the United States. One of the aims of the course is to enhance student's skills in critical thinking and reading. To this end, students shall investigate one key event in the history of a specific Native American Nation. Group discussions will be a central part of the course structure. In successfully completing this course, students will further develop their abilities to:

1)      Formulate a research question about a historical topic

2)     Assemble and evaluate primary and secondary sources

3)     Analyze events, actions, and ideas of historical significance

4)     Formulate precise and effective historical arguments

5)     Participate in and lead discussions

6)     Originate, develop, and present an exposition focused on a specific topic

5)     Understand and engage with the main themes of colonialism, B.I.A, reservation system, land exploitation and today's Native American's unsolved issues.

Key skills taught:

· Analytical thinking

· Critical thinking

· Comparative analysis

. Information Literacy



Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
In the Spirit of Crazy HorsePeter MatthiessenHarvil1-86046-100-x  
Studying Native AmericaRussell ThorntonUniversity of Wisconsin Press0-299-16064-5  

Attendance and ParticipationStudents’ active participation in our discussions is absolutely necessary to making the course work well. The high percentage of students final grade that will be based on their attendance and participation.30%
PapersStudents will write two seven page papers on a topic which interests them and is relevant to the course. The papers will be graded based upon students’ capacity to develop a strong research question and critically analyze the materials used in class. 40%
Final ExamA combination of short and long answer questions that will determine students’ capacity to recognize, understand and critically debate the concepts learned in the course. 30%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the cour
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

More than one absence will have a negative effect on the grade, the more absences, the negative-er the effect.
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


week 1 - Introduction

week 1 -When Myth meets History: the Pre-Classic Societies of Meso-America
Thornton, Chapter 2: Perspectives on Native American Identity

week 2 -Aztecs - Maya - Incas and the Andean Societies
Ortiz, Chapter 1 All the Real Indians died off 

week 3 -Cosmogony in Central and South America 
Ortiz Chapter 2 Indians were the first Immigrants to the Western Hemisphere 

week 4 -Shamanism in North America

week 4 -Clash of Empires: Parallels and Contradictions, Racism and Colonization. 
Thornton, Chapter 3: The Trauma of History

week 5 -Two diverse impacts: Spanish Conquistadors and English settlers: 
Ortiz, Chapter 8 The United States did not have a policy of Genocide 
Ortiz, Chapter 11 The United States gave Indians their Reservations 

week 5 -Indian Nations of the US North East

week 6 -Indian Nations of the US South East

week 6 -Indian Nations of the US Southwest
Ortiz, Chapter 12 Indians are wards of the state
week 7 -Indian Nations of the US Southern Plains
Matthiessen, Introduction and Chapter 1: Thieves Road, The Oglala Lakota, 1835-1965 

week 8 -Indian Nations of the US Northern Plain
Ortiz, Chapter 15 Most Indians are on Government Welfare

week 8 -20th century: Allotment Act, Indian Reorganization Act and Termination Policy
Thornton, Chapter 9: Using the Past

week 9 - The American Indian Movement 
Matthiesses, Chapter 2: The Upside-Down Flag, The American Indian Movement, 1968-73 

week 10 -Civil Rights and Sovereignty: Pine Ridge Reservation, Wounded Knee, 1973

week 11 -Incident at Oglala: the story of Leonard Peltier
Matthiessen, Chapter 5: The New Indian Wars

week 12 -Economic Development of Native America 
Alvarez, Chapter 6, Exiles in their own Land Chapter 7, Education for assimilation Chapter 8, What's in a name?

week 12 -The role of the Native American Church.

week 13 -Political Relationships between U.S.A. and Indian Reservations
Alvarez, Chapter 7, Education for assimilation 
Alvarez, Chapter 8, What's in a name?

week 14 -The New Native American Literature: Voices, articles, oral history 

FINAL exam