Sociology 435

SOCY 435

Catalog Entry

SOCY 435. Native American Cultures.
Three hours lecture (3).

Prerequisites: SOCY 110, or SOCY 121, or permission of instructor.

Study of these cultures as they existed prior to and at the time of European contact and as they exist today.


Detailed Description of Content of the Course

This course addresses the following topics:

1. The prehistory and language diversity of Native Americans.

2. Definition of the North American Indian culture areas.

3. The subsistence patterns, social organization, and religion of selected Native American groups.

4. Change in Native American cultures and their modern form.

Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

This course largely operates on a lecture format, although in-class discussion is strongly encouraged. Introductory lectures review the prehistory and biological characteristics of Native Americans. The culture area approach to classifying Native American cultures is also introduced. Most of the class focuses, however, on the study of traditional adaptive patterns of selected Native American groups from different geographical regions. Other cultural characteristics of these groups, such as their religion and kinship structure, are also studied and compared. The comparative approach to the understanding of Native American diversity is also stressed in the exams and written assignments.

Goals and Objectives of Course

After completing this course, students will be able to appreciate, examine, and understand Native Americans as real, complex human beings, not just as noble savages or bloodthirsty warriors. The focus on detailed description and comparison of Indian cultures is designed to stress the diversity of these cultures before their major disruption by European colonization. Also, by discussing modern Native Americans, students will be able to see how they have changed and adjusted to foreign contact.

Assessment Measures

Several essay examinations are given to evaluate students' assimilation of information. At least one large paper, comparing two Native American groups from different culture areas is also required.


Other Course Information

Graduate students are required to produce a detailed book review of a book which would be considered a primary reference on North American Indians which is not assigned as a required course text. This is in addition to the course requirements for undergraduates (exams, papers).


Review and Approval

February 2009, Dr. Paula Brush, Chair, Department of Sociology