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Native American Studies

(For 2015–2016 academic year)

Professors Aveni, Kerber, Vecsey
Associate Professor Lorenz (Director)

Advisory Committee Aveni, Bigenho, Kagle, Kerber, Klugherz, Lorenz (Director), Reinbold, Roller, Vecsey, Wider

The Native American Studies Program offers students the opportunity to undertake a comparative study of the pre-Columbian, colonial, and contemporary cultures of North and Latin America. The required and elective courses are drawn from a wide range of disciplines, representing the various topical and regional interests of Colgate faculty whose specializations include archaeology, art, cultural anthropology, education, ethnomusicology, geography, history, law, literature, and religion. Themes and topics of the major include the integrity, richness, and complexity of Native cultures; the reciprocal impact of contact between Native and non-Native populations in the Western Hemisphere; modes and processes of culture change; cultural disruption, resistance, and vitality; social movements; indigenous ways of knowing; and an understanding of the variety of methodological and theoretical approaches to Native American Studies, including comparisons with other indigenous cultures. A major in Native American Studies provides an excellent foundation for graduate education in the disciplines mentioned, as well as professional work in areas such as contract archaeology, environmental and cultural resource management, government services, non-governmental and non-profit organizations, law, museums, public health, and teaching.

Major Program

The Native American studies (NAST) major consists of nine courses:
  1. ANTH 358, Native American Cultures or HIST 358, Conquest and Colony: Cultural Encounters in the New World
  2. An approved 400-level course or an approved 400-level independent study project
  3. Of the remaining seven courses, at least two courses must be taken in each of these areas: North American (N) and Latin American (L)
    ANTH 202, Ancient States and Empires (L)
    ANTH 253, Field Methods and Interpretation in Archaeology (N)
    ANTH 300, Museum Studies in Native American Cultures (N)
    ANTH 356, Ethical Issues in Native American Archaeology (N)
    ANTH/ALST 357, Indigenous Politics of Latin America (L)
    ANTH 359Y, Archaeology and Ethnology of Southwestern Indians (N)
    ANTH 360, Comparative Cosmologies (L)
    ANTH/ALST 365, Andean Lives (L)
    ARTS/ANTH 249, Art and Architecture of the Ancient Americas (L)
    ARTS/ANTH 250, Native Arts of North America (N)
    ARTS 484, Seminar on Topical Theme in Art (N, L)
    ASTR/ANTH 230, Astronomy in Culture (L)
    CORE 168C, The Arctic (N)
    CORE 176C, North American Indians (N)
    CORE 188C, The Iroquois (N)
    EDUC 311, Indigenous Education (N)
    ENGL 204, Native American Writers (N)
    ENGL 336, Native American Literature (N)
    HIST 322, Race and Ethnicity in Latin America (L)
    NAST 291, 391, 491, Independent Studies
    NAST 300, Continuity in Pueblo Communities
    NAST 301, Native American Women (N)
    NAST 302, Contemporary Issues in Native American Studies (N)
    NAST 313, Southwest Native Arts and Culture (N)
    NAST/RELG 320, Native Peoples and Modern Law (N)
    RELG 288, American Indian Religions (N)
    RELG 405, Sacred Texts: Navajo Creation (N)
  4. With permission of the director of Native American studies, the following courses may also be counted among the North and Latin American electives of the major when they have appropriate course content or a research paper is undertaken in one of these areas:
    ANTH 452, Senior Seminar in Anthropology
    ANTH/SOCI 454, Senior Seminar in Sociology and Anthropology
    CORE 171C, Mexico (L)
    CORE 172C, California (N)
    CORE 177C, Peru (L)
    CORE 193C, Brazil (L)
    HIST 209, The Atlantic World, 1492–1800 (L, N)
    HIST 230, The Making of Latin America (L)
    HIST 231, Resistance and Revolt in Latin America (L)
    HIST 480, Seminar on Problems in Latin American History (L)
    MUSI 221, World Music (L)
  5. Students are strongly encouraged to participate in archaeological or anthropological fieldwork (e.g., ANTH 253). With the advice and consent of the director, students are encouraged to enroll for a summer or term in field schools in archaeology or social anthropology, or Native American community colleges. Such approved programs may earn Native American studies course credit.

Minor Program

In order to complete a minor in Native American studies, students must take five courses, including the ANTH 358 or HIST 358 requirement and at least one course in each of these areas: North American (N) and Latin American (L).

Honors and High Honors

Majors may achieve honors by having, at graduation, a minimum GPA of 3.30 in major courses and a minimum overall grade of 3.00. The candidate for honors also completes a research paper, written either in a 400-level independent study course or revised from a paper written in a 400-level course, or the equivalent, that is arranged in advance as an honors paper in Native American studies. The honors paper must be judged to be of honors quality by a committee of two professors in Native American studies, designated by the candidate in consultation with the program director. The candidate works with both professors (adviser and second reader) who are consulted during thesis development and provide comments on at least one substantive draft of the research paper prior to their final evaluation. The candidate for high honors must have, at graduation, a minimum GPA of 3.70 in major courses and a minimum overall grade of 3.00. The candidate for high honors produces a research paper, as described above, which is arranged in advance as a high honors paper. The paper must be judged to be of high honors by a committee consisting of two professors in Native American studies, designated by the candidate in consultation with the program director. The candidate receives high honors by defending the paper with distinction in an oral examination conducted by at least three professors identified by the Native American Studies Program director.

Santa Fe Study Group

In odd-numbered years, an off-campus study group to Santa Fe, New Mexico, is offered to enable a select group of Colgate students to further their understanding of Native American history, archaeology, life, and culture. See “Off-Campus Study” in Chapter VI. Majors and minors are strongly encouraged to participate in this study group.

Extended Study

In conjunction with NAST 300, Continuity in Pueblo Communities: Developing Models for Cultural Understanding, extended study in New Mexico offers students the opportunity to consider how cross-cultural understanding is developed and where and when it is frustrated.

Course Offerings


Courses unique to the Native American Studies Program (NAST) are described below. Descriptions of other courses noted above may be found under appropriate departments.

300  Continuity in Pueblo Communities
S. Wider, Staff
Focusing on the words from people within the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico, this 0.25 credit-course introduces students to Pueblo worldview. Students listen to a variety of voices — poets, storytellers, educators, artists — as they seek to understand interdependence, complementarity, and the vital interconnections across past and present that are held within specific places. As preparation for the Santa Fe study group, this course also enables students to prepare for their service learning work in the pueblos or at the Santa Fe Indian School.

301  Native American Women
S. Wider
This course focuses on women’s leadership, historically as well as currently, in American Indian nations. Indigenous women have been at the forefront of language revitalization programs, elder care, environmental justice movements, and native health and wellness initiatives. Each semester the course takes up a different facet of women’s leadership. Through readings, guest lectures, and informal conversations with women from different Native communities, students engage the many-layered complexities at work in the long histories of colonialism.

302  Contemporary Issues in Native American Studies
C.A. Lorenz, Staff
This course focuses on various issues facing Native American communities today. Areas explored in the course include cultural expression, sovereignty, land claims, environmental protection, education, healthcare systems, religious rights, and economic development, among others. When taught on campus, the course explores the response of Native American artists to these issues. When taught as part of the Santa Fe Study Group (302), students participate in a variety of service learning projects at one of the Pueblos or in relevant agencies.

313  Southwest Native Arts and Culture
S. Wider, Staff
This course is concerned with the ongoing, and longstanding, debates concerning native art in the American southwest. What “authenticates” “Indian art” and why does it “need” such authentication? How do the older divisions separating “craft” and “art” intersect with the current issues facing individuals whose life work is now linked to the marketing of the arts? Where do definitions of “traditional” and “contemporary” compete with each other, and where do they prove complementary? Over the semester, students consider a wide range of media: traditional pottery, contemporary clay sculpture, metalsmithing, drum-making, weaving, dance, music, painting, and theater.

320  Native Peoples and Modern Law
This course is crosslisted as RELG 320. For course description, see “Religion: Course Offerings.”

291, 391, 491  Independent Study