Once relegated to the margins of US history, American Indian histories have emerged as important narratives in their own right and as central components to the stories we tell about our own states, regions, and nation. For generations, American Indians have pushed their own priorities and been crucial historical actors in the making of the United States long before this nation came into existence. As part one of a two-quarter survey of American Indian history, this course examines the histories of indigenous peoples of North America from their perspective, up to 1815. During this period of time, many indigenous North Americans saw a vast “unsettling” of their homelands as Europe expanded west across the Atlantic and fought over the control of this vast continent. Students will explore a range of topics, including the peopling of the Americas; pre-Columbian societies and civilizations; early encounters and exchanges with non-Natives; strategies American Indians used to confront expanding European, US, and indigenous powers; and ways indigenous North Americans engaged global markets, diplomacy, and competing empires. The course concludes with the War of 1812, which forever altered the socio-political composition of Native North America.
In this course, students will understand:
- The diversity of the American Indian experience throughout the history of North America.
- The ways American Indians engaged global markets, diplomacy, and colonial powers for their own reasons.
- The similarities and differences among indigenous interactions with various European powers in colonial America.
- The important position American Indians occupied during colonial struggles for North America and the creation of the United States.
- How to interrogate and complicate the notion of victimization of American Indians.
- How resilient American Indian individuals, communities, and nations adapted and responded to colonialism and its lethal results.