ANTH 310 A: Native North American Societies

Meeting Time: 
TTh 2:30pm - 4:20pm
CDH 711B
Jean M. Dennison
Jean M. Dennison

Syllabus Description:

The Little Old Men spoke of these moves as one might speak of changing camping places, and each organizational step was a step away from the old, just as they walked away from the disorder of the old campsites.

-John Joseph Mathews (Osage)


  • Course: ANTH 310: Native North American Societies
  • Classroom: Condon 711B
  • Days/Hours: Tuesday/Thursday 2:30-4:20
  • Professor: Jean Dennison
  • Office: Condon 522
  • E-mail:
  • Office Hours: 1:15-2:15pm M/W (or by appointment)


The purpose of this class is to investigate contemporary American Indian Nations through both written and visual materials. The class will begin by interrogating the stereotypes most often associated with American Indians, with the goal of understanding how these are part of the continuing process of settler colonization. The course will also provide an historical context for understanding the challenges that American Indian nations face today. The class will be organized around weekly lectures, discussions, and student presentations. In addition to the weekly readings and film viewings, students will be required to post weekly, take part in case study exercises, take two exams, and give a presentation on a film.



Upon completion of this course, students should be able to: 1) critically interrogate the stereotypes associated with American Indians; 2) discuss the history and current forces of settler colonialism in the United States; 3) discuss 21st century American Indian processes of nation-building.



All required readings will be provided on Canvas. While these readings are generally under 40 pages per week, they are complex academic works and will thus require multiple readings. All films are available for viewing online or on Canvas. 



1000-980 4.0
979-960 3.9
959-940 3.8
939-920 3.7
919-900 3.6
899-890 3.5
889-870 3.4
869-860 3.3
859-850 3.2
849-840 3.1
839-830 3.0
829-820 2.9
819-810 2.8
809-800 2.7
799-790 2.6
780s 2.5
770s 2.4
760s 2.3
750s 2.2
740s 2.1
730s 2.0
720s 1.9
710s 1.8
700s 1.7
690s 1.6
680s 1.5
670s 1.4
650s 1.2
640s 1.1
630s 1.0
620s 0.9
610s 0.8
600s 0.7
590 - 0 0.0


Policies on Conduct

The University of Washington is committed to fostering an environment where the free exchange of ideas is an integral part of the academic learning environment. Disruption or domination of classroom discussions can prohibit other students from fully engaging and participating. Any student causing disruption may be asked to leave any class session, and, depending on the severity and frequency of that behavior, an incident report may be filed with Community Standards and Student Conduct. As a condition of enrollment, all students assume responsibility to observe standards of conduct that will contribute to the pursuit of academic goals and to the welfare of the academic community. For more detailed information on these standards, please visit this page.

Plagiarism/Academic Dishonesty

Plagiarism and cheating constitute academic misconduct and will not be tolerated. Plagiarism is the use of other people's words, thoughts, and/or ideas without properly citing their source. Plagiarism may involve any of the following: 1) blatant copying of others words including your classmates; 2) paraphrasing the words or ideas of another without acknowledging the source; 3) using other peoples' theories or ideas without acknowledging the source; 4) utilizing any fact that is not already common knowledge; 5) turning in another persons' work as your own.

While I encourage students to work and study together, all of the work you submit for this class must be in your own words or properly acknowledged. Plagiarized work will result in a “0” for the assignment. If you have any questions concerning this issue, please see me immediately and/or see the Statement of Academic Responsibility in the UW Bachelor's Degree Handbook.


Personal Technology

Due to their distracting nature, use of personal computers is strongly discouraged in this class except as required by the class. Cell phones and other personal technology should not be used in class unless there is an emergency.


Odegaard Writing and Research Center (OWRC)

The Odegaard Writing and Research Center (OWRC) offers students, staff, and faculty at UW free, one-to-one, 45-minute tutoring sessions for any writing or research project, as well as for personal projects such as applications or cover letters and resumes. Our tutors and librarians are trained to collaborate at any stage of the writing and research process, from brainstorming and identifying sources to making final revisions and tying up loose ends. For more information, or to schedule an appointment (more than 500 available per week!), please see our website ( or come visit us in person on the first floor of Odegaard Undergraduate Library!


Anthropology Writing Center

The Anthropology Writing Center (AWC) provides assistance and support with composition, rhetoric, and other writing skills to Anthropology undergraduates and graduate students. We can help you improve writing assignments you may have, enhance your writing skills in general, and increase your comfort with the writing process. We provide assistance at all levels of the writing process, from brainstorming ideas to outlining to specific writing skills (e.g. writing effective introductions, evaluating arguments, proper citation and referencing, etc.). We also have a number of useful reference materials related to the writing process. Further details about making appointments, WRC hours, appointment length, and center policies can be found at the URL below. If you have any questions, feel free to email the WRC at Center Website:


Course Requirements

Participation (150 points)

Participation in the course is a major component of this class. If you do not attend class or cannot talk articulately about class lectures, weekly films, and the assigned readings, your participation grade will suffer. Class discussion will occur throughout the week, but will be required whenever reading is due. The participation grade will be broken into two parts and graded based on your performance during the two halves of the semester. For excused absences, the professor must be notified ahead of time. You are only allowed three unexcused absence before your participation grade will suffer. For each unexcused absence (over the three allowed) students will be deducted 25 points. For non-participation, students will be deducted 10 points per discussion class. If you have an emergency that takes you away from class, please let the professor know as soon as you can.


Question Posting (100 points)

For 10 of the classes where readings are due, students are required to write one 3-5 sentence discussion question on the assignment due that day. All questions must be posted to the appropriate place (Assignments / Questions Posting) on the course's Canvas page by 9am the day of class. These questions will not be accepted late and are intended to show students' abilities to meet deadlines. Students can receive extra-credit by completing more than 10 of the question postings.

You do not need to answer the questions. The goal of these questions is to provoke class discussion and show your engagement with the reading for class that day and thus your questions should directly quote from the text. These questions will each be graded on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being 'exceptional', 7 being 'adequate', and 3 being 'needs improvement.' 


Case Study: Mascots (100 points)

Presentation (60): Using material from the case study Auther2013 students will work in groups of 4 to create a 5-minute presentation on how to move forward. Your presentation will be from the perspective of the local school board presenting back to the community at large. You should translate the issues at stake (as outlined in Bruyneel 2015, Arthur 2012, Jawort 2012, Dolley 2003, Fryberg 2008, NCAI 2013 and other sources) for a general audience. You should also talk about what steps your committee will take around: the mascot symbol, education on settler colonialism and its impacts, and any other steps your committee deems useful going forward. Try to gear your presentation toward those most critical of the steps you propose to implement. Students should not use any media/slides, but make their presentation engaging through other means.

Peer Review (20): Group members will evaluate eachothers' contribution to the presentation as a whole. All students must fill out a peer review of their group members and upload it to Canvas by the end of the day on 10/29 or they will lose all 20 points of their peer evaluation grade.

Community Role Play (20): Following each presentation, students will act as disgruntled community members and ask questions for 5 minutes. Prior to class students should develop the role they would like to play during the community meetings. Students are encouraged to pull on Bruyneel 2015, Arthur 2012, Jawort 2012, Dolley 2003, Fryberg 2008, NCAI 2013 and other sources to help define their role.


Case Study: Citizenship (150 points)

Using material from the case study "The Will of the People: Citizenship and the Osage Nation" students will write a position paper and participate in a role-play exercise.

Paper (50) – This 1-2 page paper should articulate your position for the role play by addressing ALL the questions outlined here. It must be double-spaced, with 12-point Times font, and one-inch margins. Students should paste their papers into Canvas assignments prior to the class for which it is due.

Role Play (100) – As part of this case, students will enact the highly charged debates over citizenship that took place during Osage community meetings. Students will be graded based on the realism of their presentations.


Film Presentation (100 points)

Presentation (80): Most weeks students will present an assigned film. Students are encouraged to create a visual presentation that provides a context for the film and should include clips from the film and references to other class material. This should not, however, be a summary of the film, but provide additional information to help the students better understand the film's content. The primary goal of the project is to lead class discussion about the film and thus the presentation should include questions related the the film throughout. The entire presentation should consume 60-minutes of class. Groups must upload a copy of their presentation to Canvas prior to class.

Peer Review (20): Students are required to complete a peer review by the end of the day of their presentation.


Midterm and Final (200 points each)

Based on the lectures, films, and readings from that half of the quarter, students will write four take-home essays and submit them to Canvas. If students complete more than the four required the fifth essay won't be graded. The essays will be "open book." Each essay should contain citation from the lecture (Dennison Date), at least one class reading (Author Year: Page Number), videos where possible (Author Year), and one other source of the student's choosing (Author Date: Page). Each essay should be between 400 and 600 words. You may form study groups to review for the exam, but all final written work must be prepared independently.

A good essay will: (1) Clearly define all concepts used; (2) Address all the issues and/or questions posed under each selection; (3) Make use of class readings, lectures, discussions, and additional relevant research by the student; and (4) Present the material in a carefully written manner that is accessible and understandable. The best essays will also offer original ideas that students support with some sort of substantive evidence or data sources.

Plagiarism: Will not be tolerated. All essays will be checked through Turnitin. You cannot use work written for previous classes; you cannot copy or quote directly from other students’ notes or written responses, nor should you lift long passages out of the texts; you should always acknowledge the source and make it clear that the text is a quote from another source. Cases of plagiarism will result in a failing grade for all students involved and may be reported to the Administration.

Late submissions: Unless it is a medical or family emergency late exams will not be accepted. Computer issues are common. Back your work up frequently and do not procrastinate.

Write your work in a word processing program and upload it to Canvas once it is completed.



Course Schedule

Week 1 - Intro

  • Oct 1: Intro to class and syllabus.

Week 2 - Indigenous Civilizations and Sovereignty

Week 3 - Settler Colonialism

Week 4 - Representation

Week 5 - Case Study: Mascots

  • Oct 27: Discussion, Group Work, and Midterm class evaluation. 
    • Question posting due at 9am.
    • Read for class: Auther2013
  • Oct 29: Presentations and Discussion. Receive and discuss midterm.

Week 6 - Midterm and Economy

  • Nov 3: No class. 
    • Midterm Due to Canvas by 4:20. 

Week 7 - Decolonizing Methodologies

Week 8 - Race

Week 9 - Activism

Week 10 and 11 - Case Study: Citizenship

Dec 15: Final Exam due to Canvas by 6:20pm.


Catalog Description: 
Traditional cultures of America north of Mexico, emphasizing diversity of North American Indian and Eskimo societies. Origins of Native-American culture areas and language groupings; subsistence systems; levels of social organization; European conquest and colonialism; and description of representative cultures from the ten culture areas.
GE Requirements: 
Diversity (DIV)
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Last updated: 
October 5, 2016 - 9:00pm