LEAD 254
Sovereignty, Resistance, and Resilience: Native American Histories to 1865 Fall 2023
Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
Cross-listed HIST 254 / AMST 254
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

This course surveys Native American/Indigenous North American histories from beginnings through the mid-nineteenth century, tracing the complex ways that sovereign tribal nations and communities have shaped Turtle Island/North America. Equally important, it reckons with the ongoing effects of these pasts in the twenty-first century, and communities’ own forms of interpretation, critique, action, and pursuits of justice. It also introduces foundational methodologies in Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS) and strategies for pursuing decolonizing scholarship and action. Emphasis is on primary and secondary works produced by Indigenous authors/creators. Starting with the diversity of Indigenous societies that have inhabited and cared for lands and waters since “time out of mind,” it foregrounds the complexity of Native peoples, nations, and worldviews situated in particular homelands, as well as accounts of origins and migrations. It addresses how societies confronted devastating epidemics resulting from the “Columbian Exchange,” and contended with Euro-colonial processes of colonization, extraction, and enslavement. Indigenous nations’ multifaceted efforts to maintain sovereignty and homelands through pervasive violence, attempted genocide, and dispossession are addressed, as well as forms of relations and kinship with African-American and Afro-Indigenous people. It concludes with how different communities negotiated the tumultuous eras of the American Revolution, forced removal in the 1830s, and Civil War, and created pathways for endurance, self-determination, 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; Lecture with small- and whole-group discussions
Limit: 40
Expected: 30-40
Class#: 1897
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Attendance at lectures, active participation in class discussion, midterm exam, short essays based on readings and discussion topics, museum/archives exercise, final essay/project.
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: History and American Studies 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:
HIST 254 Division II AMST 254 Division II LEAD 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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