Even before the first encounters with Europeans, Indigenous peoples have played critical roles in shaping ideas of civilization, nationhood, and progress. Despite the importance of Native peoples to political processes in the Americas, they have often been marginalized and invisibilized in contemporary discussions of democracy and development. Too often, “Indians” are seen as anachronistic leftovers of a previous century, rather than central actors in contesting a remarkably long-lasting colonial order. This course explores a broad set of encounters between peoples and ways of knowing. We will critically examine central concepts like “culture,” “gender,” “nature,” and “race” that shape the ways in which scholars, state officials, Indigenous leaders and intellectuals engage each other. We will delve into comparative political, sociological and ethnographic explorations of Indigenous struggles, and contemplate the implications of Indigenous resistance that have included the “post-modern” rebellion of the Zapatistas in Chiapas, the emergence of transnational Indigenous intellectuals, and organized protests against mining and oil in the Amazon, Andes and North America. Native struggles may rarely make front-page news, but they are central to the workings of a world that is simultaneously modern and colonial.