Native American Studies First Year Courses

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.

Courses

Introduces students to the basic concepts and issues of archaeology today through an examination of both method and theory. Topics include data analysis and interpretation, culture history, prehistoric technology and settlements, and cultural resources management.

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.

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.

Examines a key global health issue, such as AIDS or Cancer, from an interdisciplinary approach. The readings introduce students to the history, politics, science, and public health issues of the disease. Students will examine the epidemiology of the disease, examining how geography, socioeconomic status, and other factors influence transmission and treatment, and statistical measures used to analyze data about causes, cures and spread of disease will be introduced. Finally, the impacts of the disease on communities at different scales will be examined.

Examines 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. Students 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 investigate Iroquois relations with New York State and the United States, especially in regard to competing land claims.

A multidisciplinary look at communities and identities in Bolivia, a country in the heart of South America that has captured transnational attention for its Andean panpipe music, its majority indigenous population, and its social movements. The course uses music, dance, film, history, memoir, political documents, policy reports, anthropology, and journalism to grasp different community articulations in Bolivia. Along with historical understandings of Bolivian communities, the course takes a special look at thematic issues that, while locally grounded, have global resonances: indigenous rights, water, resource extraction, neoliberalism, coca and cocaine, and Andean music and dance.

Faculty Profile for Professor Woolley 

Examines the fabric of California’s syncretic cultures in historical, geographic, sociologic, artistic, racial, literary, political, and economic contexts. The diverse settlement patterns, environmental and economic challenge/opportunity, explosion of art forms, and continuous creation of new communities often foreshadowed trends of the entire nation. Readings explore major themes and issues of California history, while literary and personal narratives provide insight into social and political realities, including the struggles of successive waves of immigrants to interact with the established populations. Artistic and architectural expressions that document cultural phenomena offer tangible examples of the creative forces that shaped Californian intellectual and physical communities. Sociological case studies as well as economic, political, and environmental reporting assist students to understand the challenges, failures, and victories of the composite California culture. Underlying all of this is a continuous study of the variegated geography of California, which has both offered and required substantial human choices. Students who successfully complete this seminar will receive course credit for CORE 172C and satisfy the Communities and Identities core requirement. 

Susan Woolley is Associate Professor of Educational Studies and Director of LGBTQ Studies. Her research focuses on gender, sexuality, and the experiences of LGBTQ students in California and New York K-12 public schools.

Typically, American history is told from the perspective of European colonizers, with the story beginning on the east coast and expanding west across the continent. How does American history look different when we reverse this perspective and put the continent's original people at the center of the story? What has been the experience of American Indian people, both before and after European contact? And why is this history essential for understanding the world we live in today? With these questions in mind, students will examine the history of indigenous peoples in what is now the United States from 1492 to the present day. Particular focus will be placed on American Indians' history of adaptation and resilience in the face of European and American colonialism.

Typically, American history is told from the perspective of European colonizers, with the story beginning on the east coast and expanding west across the continent. How does American history look different when we reverse this perspective and put the continent's original people at the center of the story? What has been the experience of American Indian people, both before and after European contact? And why is this history essential for understanding the world we live in today? With these questions in mind, students will examine the history of indigenous peoples in what is now the United States from 1492 to the present day. Particular focus will be placed on American Indians' history of adaptation and resilience in the face of European and American colonialism.