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What can an American Indian and Indigenous Studies course do for you?

It can make you uniquely competitive as a multidisciplinary thinker.

Fall 2019 Course Roster

AIIS 1100 –Indigenous North America

Professor Kurt Jordan | 3 credits | TuTh 1:25PM-2:40PM | AMST 1600, ANTHR 1700Course Flier for AIIS 1100.

This course provides an interdisciplinary introduction to the diverse cultures, histories and contemporary situations of the Indigenous peoples of North America. Students will also be introduced to important themes in the post-1492 engagement between Indigenous and settler populations in North America and will consider the various and complex ways in which that history affected - and continues to affect - American Indian peoples and societies. Course materials draw on the humanities, social sciences, and expressive arts.

Distribution Category (CA-AG, D-AG, HA-AG)

AIIS 2420 - Nature/Culture: Ethnographic Approaches to Human-Environment Relations

Professor Paul Nadasdy | 3 credits | MoWe 2:55PM-4:10PM | ANTHR 2420, BSOC 2420Course Flier for AIIS 2420

One of the most pressing questions of our time is how we should understand the relationship between nature (or “the environment”) and culture (or society) - and/or whether these should be viewed as separate domains at all.  How one answers this question has important implications for how we go about thinking and acting in such diverse social arenas as environmental politics, development, and indigenous-state relations.  This course serves as an introduction to the various ways anthropologists and other scholars have conceptualized the relationship between humans and the environment and considers the material and political consequences that flow from these conceptualizations. 

AIIS 2600 - Introduction to American Indian Literatures in the United States

Professor Eric Cheyfitz | 3 credits | TuTh 11:40AM-12:55PMCourse flier for AIIS 2600

The purpose of this course is to provide an introduction to U.S. American Indian literatures, both oral and written. The method of studying these literatures will emphasize historical, legal, and cultural contexts as well as current critical debates over methodological approaches. In addition to examples of the oral tradition transcribed in writing, we will study a variety of written genres from their beginnings in the late eighteenth-century including autobiography, the essay, poetry, and fiction. We will begin the course by reading two translations from the oral tradition: Paul Radin's translation/compilation of Winnebago trickster narratives, and Paul Zolbrod's translation of the Diné Bahane´: The Navajo Creation Story. After that we will read a range of Native authors from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

LING/AIIS 3324 - Cayuga Language and Culture

Professor Jolene Rickard, Professor John Whitman,Course flier for AIIS 3324
& Steve Henhawk, Gayogo_hó?no’/Cayuga Lecturer
3 credits | Fr. 10:10am-12:05 pm

New course for Fall 2019! An introduction to the language and culture of the Cayuga (Gayogo_hó?no’) people. Basic language instruction provided in an immersive learning environment, focusing on the relationship of language and culture to plants and growing. 

Note: Does not satisfy the Arts College language requirement.

AIIS 3330 - Ways of Knowing: Indigenous and Place-Based Ecological Knowledge

Professor Karim-Aly Kassam | 3 credits | TuTh 8:40AM-9:55AM | NTRES 3330/6330, AMST 3330Course flier for AIIS 3330

Based on indigenous and place-based "ways of knowing," this course (1) presents a theoretical and humanistic framework from which to understand generation of ecological knowledge; (2) examines processes by which to engage indigenous and place-based knowledge of natural resources, the nonhuman environment, and human-environment interactions; and (3) reflects upon the relevance of this knowledge to climatic change, resource extraction, food sovereignty, medicinal plant biodiversity, and issues of sustainability and conservation.  The fundamental premise of this course is that human beings are embedded in their ecological systems.

Distribution Category (CA-AG, D-AG, SBA-AG)

AIIS 4300/6300 - Indigenous Peoples and De-colonial Philosophies

Professor Troy Richardson | 3 credits | Tu: 1:25PM-4:25PMCourse flier for AIIS 4300/6300

Indigenous Peoples and De-Colonial Philosophies explores the formulations of de-colonization from multiple intellectual trajectories - namely the Fanonian, Latin American and Settler Colonial Studies orientations. The course pays particular attention to some of the central tenants elaborated across these traditions that provide for the philosophies of de-colonizing, placing them in critical conversation with American Indian and Indigenous scholarship. It will examine the differences and commonalities within and across these philosophies for de-colonization, with particular attention to how they describe relations to land and the political, socio-cultural practices for animating de-colonial present(s) and futures.

AIIS 6010 - American Indian and Indigenous Studies Speaker Series 

Professor Jolene Rickard | 1 credit | Fr. 12:20-2:15 | Open to the Public

Graduate-level course that introduces students to ongoing research in the field of American Indian Studies in a proseminar/colloquium format. Advanced graduate students are expected to present their work in progress; all are expected to attend each seminar and provide presenters with critical and constructive commentary on papers.

AIIS 4970/6970 – Independent Study in American Indian and Indigenous Studies


A student may, with approval of a faculty advisor, study a problem or topic not covered in a regular course or may undertake tutorial study of an independent nature in an area of interest in American Indian Studies.

Courses that are not cross-listed but may count towards AIIS Minor

ANTHR 1200 - Ancient Peoples and Places

Professor John S. Henderson | 4 credits | TuTh 11:40AM-12:55PM | ARKEO 1200

A broad introduction to archaeology-the study of material remains to answer questions about the human past. Case studies highlight the variability of ancient societies and illustrate the varied methods and interpretive frameworks archaeologists use to reconstruct them. This course can serve as a platform for both archaeology and anthropology undergraduate majors.

Distribution Category (HA-AS)

FSAD 1250- Art, Design, & Visual Thinking

Professor Denise Green | 3 credits | TR 11:40-12:55

Introduction to the visual arts and design that explores aesthetic and cross-cultural dimensions of visual experience. Augmented by slide presentations, artifacts, video, and an Internet-based electronic textbook, lectures emphasize the varieties of visual expression seen in works of art and design. Discusses social, cultural, and historic interpretations of visual expression.

ANTHR 4256/7250 - Time and History in Ancient Mexico

Professor John Henderson | 4 credits | Mo 10:10-12:05

An introduction to belief systems in ancient Mexico and Central America, emphasizing the blending of religion, astrology, myth, history, and prophecy. Interpreting text and image in pre-Columbian books and inscriptions is a major focus.

Courses that do not count towards AIIS Minor

AIIS 1124 - American Voices: "Listening to Indigenous Voices / Solving Global Problems"

Professor Eric Cheyfitz | 3 credits | TuTh 2:55-4:10

ENGL 1168 (110 & 111): Cultural Studies 

Professor Shaawano Chad Uran | TuTh 10:10-11:25 & TuTh 1:25-2:40 

Spring 2019 Course Roster


Professor Karim-Aly Kassim |  AMST 1601

This course attends to the contemporary issues, contexts and experiences of Indigenous peoples. Students will develop a substantive understanding of colonialism and engage in the parallels and differences of its histories, forms, and effects on Indigenous peoples globally.  Contemporary Indigenous theorists, novelists, visual artists and historians have a prominent place in the course, highlighting social/environmental philosophies, critical responses to and forms of resistance toward neocolonial political and economic agendas and the fundamental concern for Indigenous self determination, among other topics.

Distribution Category (CA-AG, D-AG, HA-AG)


Professor Kurt Jordan | AMST 2350, ANTHR 2235

This introductory course surveys archaeology's contributions to the study of American Indian cultural diversity and change in North America north of Mexico. Lectures and readings will examine topics ranging from the debate over when the continent was first inhabited to present-day conflicts between Native Americans and archaeologists over excavation and the interpretation of the past. We will review important archaeological sites such as Chaco Canyon, Cahokia, Lamoka Lake, and the Little Bighorn battlefield. A principal focus will be on major transformations in lifeways such as the adoption of agriculture, the development of political-economic hierarchies, and the disruptions that accompanied the arrival of Europeans to the continent.

Distribution Category (CA-AG, D-AG, HA-AG)


Professor Jon Parmenter | HIST 2660, AMST 2660

One thing many Americans think they know is their Indians: Pocahontas, the First Thanksgiving, fighting cowboys, reservation poverty, and casino riches. Under our very noses, however, Native American history has evolved into one of the most exciting, dynamic, and contentious fields of inquiry into America’s past. It is now safer to assume, as Comanche historian Paul Chaat Smith has pointed out, that everything you know about Indians is in fact wrong. Most people have much to “unlearn” about Native American history before true learning can take place. This course aims to achieve that end by (re)introducing students to key themes and trends in the history of North America’s indigenous nations. Employing an issues-oriented approach, the course stresses the ongoing complexity of Native American societies’ engagements with varieties of settler colonialism since 1492 and dedicates itself to a concerted program of myth-busting. As such, the course will provide numerous opportunities for students to develop their critical thinking and reading skills. (HPE)

Distribution Category (HB, HA-AS)


Enrollment limited to: advanced undergraduates. Co-meets with AIIS 6000 . Course requirements differ at 4000 and 6000 levels.

An interdisciplinary survey of the literature in Native American Studies. Readings engage themes of indigeneity, coloniality, power, and “resistance.” The syllabus is formed from some “classic” and canonical works in Native American Studies but also requires an engagement with marginal writings and theoretical and historical contributions from scholars in other disciplines.


Staff | TBD

The American Indian Program office must approve independent study forms. Students from all colleges must submit a CALS Special Studies form available online. Topic and credit hours TBA between faculty member and student.

Distribution Category (CU-UGR)


Staff | TBD

A student may, with approval of a faculty advisor, study a problem or topic not covered in a regular course or may undertake tutorial study of an independent nature in an area of interest in American Indian and Indigenous Studies.

Distribution Category (CU-UGR)

Courses that are not crosslisted but MAY count towards AIIS Minor:

ANTHR 3245/6245 - Across the Seas: Contacts between the Americas and the Old World before Columbus

Professor John Henderson | ARKEO 3245/6245

This course considers the possibility of connections between the America and the Old World before the Spanish "discovery" not only as an empirical question, but also as an intensely controversial issue that has tested the limits of the scholarly detachment that archaeologists imagine characterizes their perspectives. We will consider the evidence for several possible episodes of interaction as well as the broader issue of how long-distance interaction can be recognized in the archaeological record.  Transoceanic contact is a common element in popular visions of the American past, but most professional archaeologists have rejected the possibility with great vehemence.  The issue provides an interesting case study in the power of orthodoxy in archaeology.

Distribution Category (HA-AS)

ANTHR 3255/6255 - Ancient Mexico and Central America

Professor John Henderson | ARKEO 3255/6255

An introduction to ancient Mesoamerica, focusing on the nature and development of societies that are arguably the most complex to develop anywhere in the precolumbian Americas.  The course provides a summary of the history of the region before the European invasion, but the emphasis is on the organization of Mesoamerican societies: the distinctive features of Mesoamerican cities, economies, political systems, religion.  We begin by considering Mesoamerican societies at the time of the Spanish invasion.  Our focus will be on descriptions of the Aztecs of Central Mexico by Europeans and indigenous survivors, in an attempt to extract from them a model of the fundamental organizational features of one Mesoamerican society, making allowances for what we can determine about the perspectives and biases of their authors.  We then review the precolumbian history of Mesoamerica looking for variations on these themes as well as indications of alternative forms of organization.  We will also look at such issues as the transition from mobile to sedentary lifeways, the processes involved in the domestication of plants and animals, the emergence of cities and states, and the use of invasion-period and ethnographic information to interpret precolumbian societies in comparative perspective.

Distribution Category (HA-AS)

ANTHR 4235/7235 - Meaningful Stuff: Interpreting Material Culture

Professor Fred Gleach | ARKO 4235/7235

"Res ipsa loquitur" -- the thing speaks for itself. This common expression captures a widespread belief about objects' roles in human lives, but "hearing" what objects have to say is actually a complex cultural process. An object rarely has a single meaning; they are read variously in different cultural settings, and even by different individuals within a cultural system. How does one know -- can one know -- the meanings of an object? How are objects strategically deployed in social interaction (particularly in cross-cultural interactions, where each side may have radically different understandings)? How does one even know what an object is? We will explore the history and variety of ways that material culture and its meanings have been studied, using archaeological and ethnographic examples.

Distribution Category (HA-AS)