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American Indian Studies Courses: Fall 2013/Spring 2014

AIS 1100 – Intro. to American Indian Studies I: Indigenous North America to 1890

Instructor: Prof. Paul Nadasdy
TuTh 1:25pm- 2:40pm

Provides an interdisciplinary introduction to American Indian cultures and histories from pre-Columbian times to 1890, emphasizing the current relevance of traditional values and the ways the deep past continues to affect present-day Indian peoples. Course materials draw on perspectives from the humanities, social sciences, and expressive arts.

AIS 1120 – Freshman Writing Seminar / Science Meets the Spirit: Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Natural Resource Management

Instructor: Prof. Jane Mt. Pleasant, J.

Native peoples across the Western hemisphere use knowledge systems that differ fundamentally from those of Western science. Using traditional oral as well as written texts and contemporary writings by Native and non-Native scholars, we will examine the tensions and complementarities of these two knowledge systems. Using Iroquois knowledge systems in the northeast as a focal point we will examine how they conceptualized their ecosystem and use it for agriculture, comparing it to resource management based on Western science. We will also explore how contemporary indigenous communities negotiate with non-Indian scientists, policy-makers, and legislators across boundaries that reflect very different ways of knowing. Through reading and writing activities, student will critically examine these issues and define their own views on what constitutes knowledge.

AIS 2350 -Archaeology of North American Indians

Instructor: Prof. Kurt Jordan
TuTh 11:40AM - 12:55PM

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 life ways such as the adoption of agriculture, the development of political-economic hierarchies, and the disruptions that accompanied the arrival of Europeans to the continent.

AIS 2600 - Intro to American Indian Literatures of the U.S.

Instructor: Prof. Christopher Pexa

MWF 10:10-11:00
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.

AIS 3248 Iroquois Archaeology

Instructor: Prof. Kurt Jordan
TR: 10:10–11:25

This course surveys the long-term development of Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) culture from an archaeological perspective. Issues examined will include the origins of the Iroquois: material culture, settlement, and subsistence; the Iroquois Confederacy; responses to European encroachment; and contemporary Haudenosaunee perspectives on archaeology. Course requirements differ at the 3000 and 6000 levels.

AIS 3330 - Ways of Knowing: Indigenous and Local Ecological Knowledge

Instructor:  Prof. Karim-Aly Kassam
Tu Th 8:40 am- 9:55am

Based on indigenous and local "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 local 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, and issues of sustainability and conservation.

AIS 3560 - Thinking From a Different Place: Indigenous Philosophies

Instructor: Prof. Eric Cheyfitz
TR 1:25-2:40

The Western nation-state has failed to solve the two most pressing, indeed catastrophic, global problems: poverty and climate change. This failure is due to the inability of national policy to imagine a world beyond a boundary drawn by the formative capitalist ideas of property, production, and profit. The course will begin by discussing the historical origin and continuing force of these ideas while raising questions about their limits. It will look at a range of alternative ideas about how the world should work if we want to keep it socially, economically, and ecologically in balance. The alternatives we will query come from a range of Indigenous writers of fiction, poetry, and theory, who locate themselves in Native American (north and south), Aboriginal, and Maori communities.

AIS 4100 - Health and Survival Inequalities

Instructor: Prof. Angela Gonzales
Tu Th 1:25pm-2:40pm (Also DSOC 4100)

Historical inequalities in health and survival continue to exist today. This course covers markers of such inequalities, including region, class, race, gender, and age and examine some of the biological, socioeconomic, and political determinants of these differences. Macro as well as individual and family level determinants are examined. Policy prescriptions are evaluated and new innovative approaches proposed.

AIS 4625 - Contemporary U.S. American Indian Fiction

Instructor: Prof. Eric Cheyfitz
R 12:20 - 2:15

If you haven't read contemporary U.S. American Indian fiction, then it might be fair to ask how much you know about the United States, its origins and its current condition. Since the 1960s, American Indians have been producing a significant body of award-wining novels and short stories. In 1969, for example, N. Scott Momaday, from the Kiowa nation, won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel House Made of Dawn and in 2012 Louise Erdrich, who is Anishinaabe, won the National Book Award for her novel, The Round House. In between these two notable moments we can list an impressive number of Native storytellers whose work is aesthetically powerful, offering us a narrative of the United States that counters the official history.

AIS 4970 - Independent Study

Instructor: AIS Faculty

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

AIS 6010 - American Indian Studies Pro-seminar

Instructor: Prof. Paul Nadasdy
Wed. 10:10am- 11:40am

Graduate-level course that introduces students to ongoing research in the field of American Indian Studies in a pro-seminar/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.​

AIS 6970 - Independent Study in American Indian Studies

Instructor: AIS Faculty

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.


Other Courses applicable to the AIS MINOR:

ANTHR 3256 - Ancient Civilizations of the Andes

Instructor: Prof. John Henderson

A survey of the rise and decline of civilizations in the Andean region of western South America before the European invasion. Key topics include the use of invasion-period and ethnographic information to interpret precolumbian societies, the emergence of settled farming life, and the development of the state.

ANTHR 4268/7268 - [Aztecs and Their Empire: Myth, History, and Politics]

Instructor: Prof. John Henderson

Examines the structure and history of the largest polity in ancient Mexico, the "empire" of the Aztecs, using descriptions left by Spanish invaders, accounts written by Aztecs under Colonial rule, and archaeological evidence. Explores Aztec visions of the past, emphasizing the roles of myth, religion, and identity in Aztec statecraft and the construction of history


SPRING 2014 Course Offering

AIS 1110 - Introduction to American Indian Studies II: Indigenous Issues in Global Perspectives

Instructor: Prof. Troy Richardson​
MoWe 11:15AM - 12:05PM

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.

AIS 2400 - Indigenous Women's Experiences

Instructor: Prof. Lisa Hall
Mo 1:25PM - 4:25PM

This course explores a wide variety of issues faced by indigenous women in the US. Readings primarily focus on American Indian and Native Hawaiian issues but students are welcome to incorporate other indigenous groups in their class presentations and/or final papers if desired. Issues to be discussed include the gendered and sexual nature of colonialism, colonialism and sexual violence, bio-colonialism, legal and community-based identities, and cultural resistance and creativity.

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

Instructor: Prof. Christopher Pexa
MoWeFr 10:10AM - 11:00AM

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.

AIS 2660 - Everything You Know About Indians is Wrong: Unlearning Native American History

Instructor: Prof. Jon Parmenter
MoWeFr 9:05AM - 9:55AM

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.

AIS 3400 - Contested Terrain: Hawaii

Instructors: Prof. M. Hamabata and Prof. A. Moore

Prerequisite: introductory or intermediate-level social sciences or history. Enrollment limited to: students in Hawaii. Offered in Hawaii.

This course, offered through Earth and Atmospheric Sciences' program in Hawaii, draws from the fields of history, political science, and sociology to present an historical understanding of contemporary Hawaiian society. Topics include Western contact, establishment of Western institutions, overthrow of a sovereign government, annexation, and integration into the United States. Direct experience with Hawaiian leaders and institutions are incorporated to address contemporary issues: sovereignty, economic development/dependency, social change, and land use as a sociopolitical and cultural struggle. Students should consult www.eas.cornell.edu/cals/eas/academics regarding the status of this course.

AIS 4000 - Critical Approaches to American Indian Studies

Instructor: Prof. Jolene Rickard
Tu 1:25PM - 4:25PM

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

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.

AIS 4625 - Contemporary U.S. American Indian Fiction

Instructor: Prof. Eric Cheyfitz
Th 12:20PM - 2:15PM

If you haven't read contemporary U.S. American Indian fiction, then it might be fair to ask how much you know about the United States, its origins and its current condition. Since the 1960s, American Indians have been producing a significant body of award-wining novels and short stories. In 1969, for example, N. Scott Momaday, from the Kiowa nation, won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel House Made of Dawn and in 2012 Louise Erdrich, who is Anishinaabe, won the National Book Award for her novel The Round House. In between these two notable moments we can list an impressive number of Native storytellers whose work is aesthetically powerful, offering us a narrative of the United States that counters the official history.

AIS 4771 – Indigenous Art, Film and New Media: Anti-Colonial Strategies

Instructor: Prof. Jolene Rickard
We 7:30PM-9:25PM

This course examines Indigenous art, new media and film from three distinct interrelated perspectives of aesthetics/theory, technology and history/culture. The relationship between technology and tradition reevaluates established assumptions between representation, power and the gaze. Decolonizing methodologies will establish the translatability of Indigenous oral tradition to visual expression as a form of cultural agency. The use of media as a cultural and political intervention will be discussed through the work of Hopi filmmaker, Victor Masayesva, Inuit filmmaker, Zacharias Kunuk, the Kayapo Media Collective, Aboriginal artist, Tracy Moffat, new media artist; Mohawk, Skawanati, Maori photographer, John Miller and more. The construction, circulation, and reception of Indigenous visual culture will be discussed within a transnational, diasporic and global frame.

AIS 4970 - Independent Study

Instructor: Staff

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.

AIS 6000 - Critical Approaches to American Indian Studies

Instructor: Prof. Jolene Rickard
​Tu 1:25PM - 4:25PM

Enrollment limited to: graduate students. Course requirements differ at 4000 and 6000 levels. Co-meets with AIS 4000 .

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.

AIS 6970 - Independent Study in American Indian Studies

Instructor: Staff

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.