Journal of American History

American Indian History

Ned Blackhawk

University of Wisconsin, Madison

History 490

Introduction to American Indian History

Course Description

Ignored for generations, American Indian history has recently become one of the most exciting and prolific fields of historical inquiry. As scholars now recognize, Indian peoples have fundamentally shaped and defined our nation’s past. From the founding of the first European settlements in North America to continuing debates over the meaning of American democracy, Indian history remains integral to understandings of American history and culture. This course introduces this complex and long-ignored field of study.

Course Readings

Six primary texts are required for this course. We will read these texts in conjunction with additional chapters, articles, and documents from a course reader available at the Humanities Copy Center. These additional readings are central to the class. The required and recommended texts and the reader are available also on reserve at College Library.

Required Books

Course Requirements

Students are responsible for all materials covered in lecture and in the readings. Failure to complete any of the required assignments and examinations will constitute a failed grade. The final course grade will be determined as follows.


Both exams will include short answer identifications (ID’s) drawn from class lectures and readings as well as essay questions. The final exam will cover materials from mainly the second half of the course. Lists of exam study questions, one or two of which will appear on the actual exam, are in the course reader. Final Exam, December 20th, 2:45pm

Short Paper

A comprehension essay on one of Week 5’s readings will be due on October 3rd in class. All papers should be double-spaced, typed, and handed in on time. No late papers will be accepted. Topic questions along with writing guidelines are in the course reader.

Individual Book Review and Section Presentation

Starting Week 7, two students per section will review individual books and will offer 10-minute section presentations (either individually or in tandem), detailing how each title intersects with and extends class materials. A book review will also be handed in and will comprise 25% of the course grade. Students are encouraged to attend Wednesday office hours—the first hour of which after Week 7 will be devoted strictly to book review/section discussions. Papers must be typed, double-spaced, properly formatted and referenced, and handed in on time. Both the review and the presentation are mandatory.

Weekly Discussion Sections and Attendance

Attendance and participation in weekly discussion sections are essential to the class and comprise (10%) of the final grade.

Credits and Additional Notes to Students

This is an advanced undergraduate survey course in history. Students without prior exposure to American history or American Indian Studies have sometimes faced initial challenges, though dedicated and engaged students from all disciplines have done well in the course. This is also a 4-credit course. Students enrolled through the American Indian Studies Program can take the course for either 3 or 4 credits, though the course is designed for 4 credits of work, and no recalibrations of the requirements will be made.

Course Schedule

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7

Week 8

Week 9

Week 10

Week 11

Week 12

Week 13

Week 14

Week 15

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Diverse Surveys in American History


Gary J. Kornblith and Carol Lasser