American Indian History

History 135

Fall 2013
Day & Time: 
TuTh 2-330P

Name three American Indians. If you're like most American college students today you might have named Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, and Pocahontas (due in large part to Disney's 1995 animated feature of the same name). These typical responses reveal three central truths about Americans' perception of Indians. Namely, that Americans see Indians as part of the past; that Plains Indians often stand in for diverse indigenous peoples; and that popular culture plays a powerful role in shaping perceptions of Indians. In this course we will break down these perceptions by examining American Indian history and culture from the colonial era to the present. For far too long scholars and the general public alike cast American Indians as marginal figures of United States history and altogether absent from her present and future. Thankfully, scholarship has evolved to portray American Indians as the central actors that they have been and continue to be in American life and society. In this course we will rethink the narrative of United States history through examining American Indian history. Major markers of United States history as it is typically narrated, including early European settlement, the American Revolution, the Louisiana Purchase, the Civil War, the Progressive Era, and the Civil Rights Movement, look very different from Indian Country. By the end of this course, students will gain both a greater understanding of American Indian history and culture as well as a new perspective on the narrative of United States history.