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Steven Hoelscher, Chair Burdine 437, Mailcode B7100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-7277

Fall 2004

AMS 370 • Contemporary Native North America

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
27887 MWF
3:00 PM-4:00 PM
PAR 103

Course Description

This course explores the similarities and distinctions among over 500 hundred American Indian communities in the United States and Canada. We will look at specific tribal communities as well as more recent pan-tribal American Indian communities and identities. The class takes a dynamic and inter-disciplinary approach to contemporary Indian communities by examining history, literature, economic development, law, political systems, religious practices, ecology, language use, and identity formation. Our goal is to understand how Native communities blend “traditional” and non-Native practices to maintain distinct cultures and governments within the larger U.S. society. Assigned texts offer different perspectives on contemporary American Indian life by speaking from distinctive tribal, geographic, economic, socio-political, and cultural communities. At the same time, the significant overlapping subjects of these texts will generate fruitful classroom discussions of comparisons between various Native communities—and ways of perceiving community—and give students a more comprehensive sense of Native life in general. Successful students will be able to identify what makes Native communities distinct from Euro-American communities and the ways in which these Native communities maintain cultural traditions by being active members of contemporary U.S. society. At the completion of the class, students should also have a command of the diversity of Native North American communities and the similarity of shared experiences. Lastly, students should be able to discuss how Native American studies relates to the field of American studies as a whole.


Books: Joanne Nagel, American Indian Ethnic Renewal; Vine Deloria, Jr. (Hunkpapa Sioux), Red Earth, White Lies: Native Americans and the Myth of Scientific Fact; Keith Basso, Wisdom Sits in Places: Landscape and Language Among the Western Apache; Louise Erdrich (Turtle Mountain Chippewa), The Bingo Palace; Wilma Mankiller (Cherokee), Mankiller: A Chief and Her People. Films: Chris Eyre (Cheyenne/Arapaho) and Sherman Alexie (Spokane/Coeur d’Alene), Smoke Signals; Bennie Klain (Navajo), Return of Navajo Boy.


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