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Native American Studies (NAST)

Director: C. Lorenz

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.


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ANTH 103, Introduction to Archaeology

ANTH 253, Field Meth/Interpret-Archaelog
Provides students with hands-on experience in procedures archaeologists employ in collecting, processing, and reporting data. The course revolves around two basic premises: learning about archaeology includes doing archaeology, and doing archaeology involves more than just digging. Training in archaeological fieldwork and data processing is based upon an ongoing research project in Central New York. Each student has the opportunity to participate in various aspects of this research from excavation and field recording to cataloguing and analysis. The culmination of the course is a detailed report based upon research conducted during the semester. (MC, GR, FR)

ARTS 250, Native Art of N America
Relying on archaeological, art historical, and ethnographic sources, this course examines the principal art styles of the indigenous cultures of North America. The course explores such issues as the usefulness of art objects in reconstructing cultures of the past and as historical documents for living peoples; gender roles in art production; the relationship between art, technology, and utility; the use of art as educational tools, memory aids, and religious devices; the relative importance of tradition and innovation; and the role of contemporary art in Native North American life today.

CORE 171C, Mexico
An interdisciplinary introduction to the history, people, art and cultures of Mexico, a country of diverse ethnic, sexual, gendered, class, and political identities that shares a 2,000-mile border with the United States. How does Mexico’s colonial past inform the present? On what terms has a Mexican national identity been defined and who is included or excluded from rights and citizenship? Objectives are to examine Mexico’s complex history and social fabric; to study Mexican identities, politics, and cultural expressions with relation to this history; and to gain a general understanding of contemporary Mexico in the context of current events and Mexico’s relationship to the United States.

CORE 176C, North American Indians
Provides an overview of North American Indians by drawing on case studies from four groupings: New England tribes; Iroquois; Cheyenne; and Pueblos. These cultures are studied in terms of their historical and political relationship to Anglo-American society and institutions, attending to Native Americans' resistance to attempted conquest by European or American powers, the creation of reservation systems, and the use of institutions (e.g., the Bureau of Indian Affairs, schools, missions) to change Native American cultures. Students also examine the response of Native Americans to outside pressures. Students explore other issues, such as sovereignty, identity, gambling, repatriation, land claims, and education, and their impact on North American Indians. Videotapes and Native American artifacts are studied throughout the semester.

CORE 177C, Peru
The Latin American country Peru evokes dramatic and conflicting images of spectacular natural settings, ancient ruins, cosmopolitan cities, shantytowns, street children, poverty and more. It is a country of extremes. This course offers an interdisciplinary inquiry into this ecologically and culturally diverse land. The course begins by exploring the distinct geography and ecology of the central Andean region (rainforest, mountains, desert, and ocean) in order to understand how these features have shaped the societies that inhabit the region of present-day Peru. This involves analyzing the evolution and organization of Pre-Columbian societies, paying special attention to the Inca civilization. It also examines the ideologies, institutions and practices introduced with the Spanish conquest and era of colonialism in order to understand their impact on indigenous society and their relevance to the state of underdevelopment that characterizes contemporary Peru. Study of present-day Peru juxtaposes rural and urban life, the ties between the two spheres, and the crisis conditions that enveloped both ways of life until recently. Specific issues include the internal armed conflict, the coca culture and cocaine economy, shantytowns and land invasions, oil extraction and indigenous resistance, among other compelling issues. Throughout the term, this course emphasizes the many paradoxes of this intriguing land.

FSEM 112, The Iroquois
Faculty Profile for Professor Vecsey

During this semester we shall examine the archaeology, culture, history, economics, religion, literature, arts, politics, law, and individual lives of the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) Indians -- Colgate’s closest Native American neighbors -- from the period before European contact to the present day. We shall place Iroquois experiences in North American Indian contexts (comparing the Iroquois, e.g., to the Cherokee), especially regarding the loss and persistence of tribal sovereignty; and we shall investigate Iroquois relations with New York State and the United States, especially in regard to competing land claims. On Saturday, October 20 we shall spend the day at the Native American Arts and Culture Festival in the Sanford Field House at Colgate. Artist demonstrations will include pottery, stone sculpture, lacrosse stick making, and interactive performances by the Haudenosaunee Singers and Dancers. Students who successfully complete this seminar will receive credit for CORE 188C and satisfy the Communities & Identities core requirement.

Christopher Vecsey is Harry Emerson Fosdick Professor of the Humanities, Native American Studies, and Religion. His most recent book (2012), Native Footsteps Along the Path of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, examines the life of the seventeenth-century Mohawk convert to Catholicism and the devotions to her by Native American Catholics today.

HIST 209, Atlantic World, 1492-1800
The events that followed Columbus' accidental arrival in the New World in 1492 shaped the world in which we live today. This course explores the formation of the Atlantic communities as the result of interactions between European, African, and Native American peoples as well as the circulation of diseases, natural products, labor systems, imperial designs, economic policies, and frontier zones in the Atlantic world. Many of the consequences of this process of interaction were unintended. Students explore the configuration of European, African, and Native American societies before contact and the configuration of new communities in the New World; the slave trade and the establishment of the plantation complex from Brazil to South Carolina; the spread of Christianity in the New World; the development of scientific practices in the service of imperial and national states; the establishment of labor systems; and the different strategies of accommodation, resistance, and rebellion of the different actors trying to find/protect their place in the Atlantic world. This course intends to provide a regional framework for the study of colonial societies in the western hemisphere as well as for the study of emerging empires and states in Europe. (LAC)