HIST 254
Sovereignty, Resistance, and Resilience: Native American Histories to 1865 Fall 2022
Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
Cross-listed AMST 254 / LEAD 254
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

This course surveys Native American/Indigenous North American histories from creation through the mid-nineteenth century, tracing the complex ways that tribal nations and communities have shaped North America. Equally important, it reckons with the ongoing effects of these pasts in the twenty-first century, and communities’ own forms of interpretation and critique. It also introduces foundational methodologies in Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS) and strategies for pursuing decolonizing scholarship and action. Beginning with the diverse Indigenous societies that have inhabited the Americas for millennia before Columbus’s arrival, it foregrounds the complexity of Native peoples, nations, and worldviews situated in particular homelands, as well as accounts of beginnings and migrations. It addresses how Native peoples confronted grievous epidemics resulting from the “Columbian Exchange,” and contended with Euro-colonial projects of “discovery” and colonization. Indigenous nations’ multifaceted efforts to maintain sovereignty and homelands through eras of pervasive violence and removal are addressed, as well as forms of relations and kinship with African-American and Afro-Indigenous people. It concludes with how different Native communities negotiated the tumultuous era of the Civil War and created pathways for endurance and security in its aftermath. The course centers on Indigenous actors–intellectuals, diplomats, legal strategists, knowledge keepers, spiritual leaders, artists, and many others–and consistently connects historical events with present-day matters of land, historical memory, education, caretaking, and activism. Additionally, it provides an opportunity to engage with original materials in the Williams College Archives/Special Collections and Art Museum. While the scope of the course is continental and transoceanic, it devotes significant attention to the Native Northeast and the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican homelands in which Williams College is located.
The Class: Format: lecture
Limit: 19
Expected: 19
Class#: 1384
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Attendance at lectures, active participation in class discussion, several short essays based on readings and discussion topics, museum/archives exercise, final essay/project.
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: History majors, followed by first- and second-year students
Distributions: Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
AMST 254 Division II LEAD 254 Division II HIST 254 Division II
DPE Notes: This course intensively explores Native American/Indigenous North American histories, experiences, and forms of critical and creative expression, as well as responses to and engagements with Euro-American settler colonialism. It guides students into methodologies central to Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS), and gives opportunities for oral and written reflections on NAIS approaches to historical themes and sources, as well as decolonizing methodologies more broadly.
Attributes: HIST Group F Electives - U.S. + Canada
HIST Group P Electives - Premodern

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