In western Washington, public controversies about American Indian and tribal identity have been common. This course engages students in efforts to make sense of that fact by examining the historical relations of indigenous people and their descendants with other people in the region. Students consider records of give and take between those two populations over more than two centuries, paying attention to changing conceptions of Indians, Indian tribes, and Indians’ place in regional society. By the end of the course, students have learned about the roots and nature of Indians’ present circumstances and political status, national as well as local. As a case study in race relations, the course also encourages students to identify and think about common social processes that have shaped and reshaped ethnic and racial identities in general.
Class time is devoted to some lecture, student questions, and discussions in small groups and as a whole. Lectures provide essential context for making sense of the readings, most of which are primary sources for the history we want to know. Except for a few items available on line, readings are in a large photocopied course pack.
In addition to the reading, which varies in volume from week to week, coursework consists of frequent short written exercises (graded as credit or no credit), a take-home final essay exam, and three essays -- four or five pages long -- that analyze specific readings in response to prompts from the instructor. Grades on the three papers and the exam are each worth 20 percent of a student’s course grade (with added credit for improvement over time). The remaining 20 percent reflects student participation in class discussions and effort on the credit/no-credit exercises.