Fall 2015 - HIST 325 D100

History of Aboriginal Peoples of North America to 1850 (4)

Class Number: 5954

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 8 – Dec 7, 2015: Tue, 10:30–11:20 a.m.

    Sep 8 – Dec 7, 2015: Thu, 9:30–11:20 a.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 13, 2015
    Sun, 3:30–6:30 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units including nine units of lower division history.



Examines selected themes in the history of Aboriginal peoples of North America from first contact with Europeans to the mid-nineteenth century. Students with credit for FNST 325 may not take this course for further credit.


Recently, a dozen Indigenous actors walked off the set of The Ridiculous Six, Adam Sandler’s film in progress. They were protesting the script’s representations of Apache peoples, and numerous racist jokes which relied on centuries-old stereotypes that the actors said were degrading to Indigenous women and elders. This is only the most recent in a long string of similar controversies, demonstrating that the histories and cultures of Indigenous peoples are not widely understood or well represented in mainstream media. And yet, North American Indigenous history is a dynamic and engaging field of study, one which has seen considerable development even in just the past twenty years. This course seeks to offer an introduction onto this complex field, providing students with the historical context they need to understand not only the past experiences of Indigenous peoples up until 1850, but also the legacies those histories have in the 21st century.

This course adopts a cultural-historical approach, with each week focusing on the Indigenous communities from a different region of North America. Lectures will analyze both the historical shifts and community dynamics existing in each region prior to contact, as well as particular events and phenomena in the history of that Indigenous group after contact. Assignments are structured so that students can focus on one particular Indigenous nation for the semester, deepening their knowledge of that specific community. After taking this course, students will be able to: identify broad-level continuities and changes in Indigenous cultures up to 1850; describe similarities and differences between Indigenous groups from across North America; and discuss how Indigenous individuals, even those within the same community, responded differently to colonialism.


  • Tutorial Participation 15%
  • In-Class Exercises (5%) & Pop Quizzes (10%): 15%
  • Presentation (biography of an Indigenous person, pre-1850): 15%
  • Primary Source Analysis (8-10 page essay) 25%
  • Take Home Final Exam 30%


HIST 325 is cross-listed with FNST 325 and you may take this course under the HIST designation or the FHST designation.



Kenneth Townsend and Mark Nicholas, First Americans: A History of Native Peoples, Volume 1: To 1850, Pearson, 2012. (with access card)

Primary & Secondary Sources available on Canvas and online

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://students.sfu.ca/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html