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Historiography & Native American Oral Traditions and Narratives


The writing of history, in particular the writing of history based on the critical examination of sources, scholars often ignore those from a Native American perspective. In the selection of what constitutes Native American history whether it is a Native American leader or hero¿s views, or the inclusion of specific details of events from a Native American perspective, the synthesis of these particulars into a narrative is often from a non-Native American perspective. Yet, aspects of Native American oral tradition continue to tell specific tribal histories that have survived and continue to withstand the test of time. Should these oral tradition narratives be included in the telling of Native American history?n nFor Native American peoples concepts of time differ from culture to culture where history may be defined differently from one group to another. Among these different groups time is organized in different ways, i.e. for the Lakota speaking peoples, Wintercounts are kept to record significant events in Lakota history for each year counted as a winter (thirteen months); however time is accounted for, each nation appears to incorporate oral tradition narratives that provide a cultural perspective of a group¿s origins. nFrom a Western perspective, history is secular and objectively evaluative whereas for most Indigenous peoples, history is a moral endeavor (Walker, Lakota Society 113). Thus for the Lakota peoples: ¿History is never simply the past, but the past as it relates to the present. This past is preceded, accompanied, and followed by an ever present, sacred dimension which [is] outside the realm of human time¿Without it, mere human history would lack the larger relevance that is essential to the Lakota concept. For [the Lakota], history is sacred history¿ (Walker, Lakota Society 113). nnThis course will examine the principles and theories used in the writing of Native American history in order to determine what constitutes how history is told in today's narratives. A text edited by Hurtado and Iverson that encourages critical thinking about major problems in American Indian history introduces students to primary sources and analytical essays on important topics in U.S. history with regard to Native Americans. Other selected readings on historiography and Native American oral tradition narratives will be utilized. Through the assigned readings students can read and evaluate primary sources, analyze and interpret essays by well-known Native American historians and others; and are encouraged in class discussions to draw their own conclusions in how Native American history should be told. Students will write two shorter papers and one longer paper on the topics relevant to the title of this course.

Course ID: 
219 801
Letter or Credit/No Credit