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Native Peoples of North America

Native Peoples of North America

Professor Daniel M. Cobb, Ph.D.
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

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Native Peoples of North America

In partnership with
Professor Daniel M. Cobb, Ph.D.
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Share This Course
4 out of 5
45 Reviews
71% of reviewers would recommend this series
Course No. 8131
  • Audio or Video?
  • You should buy audio if you would enjoy the convenience of experiencing this course while driving, exercising, etc. While the video does contain visual elements, the professor presents the material in an engaging and clear manner, so the visuals are not necessary to understand the concepts. Additionally, the audio audience may refer to the accompanying course guidebook for diagrams, illustrations, and examples that are cited throughout the course.
  • You should buy video if you prefer learning visually and wish to take advantage of the visual elements featured in this course. While the video version can be considered lightly illustrated, there are hundreds of graphics provided by the Smithsonian, hundreds of maps, 3-D animations, and text provided on the screen for tribal names and other key terms, which may help reinforce material for visual learners.
Streaming Included Free

What Will You Learn?

  • How Native Americans kept or lost their lands through treaties, war, and negotiations.
  • What it meant to walk the Trail of Tears and the impact of removal on tribal nations.
  • The impact of lesser-known activists such as Hunkpapa Gall, the Oglala Crazy Horse, and the Northern Cheyenne Wooden Leg.
  • The contemporary struggle, including gaming, repatriation, religious freedom, federal recognition, self-government, legal jurisdiction, and resource development.

Course Overview

History, for all its facts and figures, names and dates, is ultimately subjective. You learn the points of view your teachers provide, the perspectives that books offer, and the conclusions you draw yourself based on the facts you were given. Hearing different angles on historical events gives you a more insightful, more accurate, and more rewarding understanding of events – especially when a new viewpoint challenges the story you thought you knew.

Now, The Great Courses has partnered with Smithsonian to bring you a course that will greatly expand your understanding of American history. This course, Native Peoples of North America, pairs the unmatched resources and expertise of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian with the unparalleled knowledge of Professor Daniel M. Cobb of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to provide a multidisciplinary view of American history, revealing new perspectives on the historical and contemporary experiences of Indigenous peoples, and their significant impact on the history of our country. Professor Cobb brings his experience as an author and teacher to recount an absolutely fascinating, larger-than-life story across a timespan of more than 500 years.

This insightful and unique 24-lecture course is filled with images and rare artifacts from Smithsonian’s famed collections, and informed by fascinating insights from Smithsonian historians. The National Museum of the American Indian, headquartered on the National Mall and visited by millions of Americans every year, is dedicated to the life, languages, literature, history, and arts of the Native Americans of the Western Hemisphere. Museum input into this course—both in helping to shape the riveting curriculum as allowing use of their spectacular collections—has allowed us create a truly engaging course that will thoroughly change your understanding of American history.

Unlearn What You Thought You Knew

One of the first myths Professor Cobb dispels is the Eurocentric view of the “Old World” and the “New World.” Noting that this terminology is the root of many narrow views, he proceeds to challenge stereotypical representations of American Indian history in each lecture. Many of the topics he shares will initially appear familiar until he presents the components and perspectives you were likely not taught.

Showcasing rare, historic artifacts and images from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, National Anthropological Archives, National Portrait Gallery, American Art Museum and Smithsonian Institution Archives, every lecture of this fascinating course helps disprove myths and stereotypes that many people take as fact. Narrating along with these dazzling visuals, you’ll hear Professor Cobb present a different account—or some new perspectives on—the Seven Years’ War, the American Revolution, the War of 1812, Cherokee removal, the Civil War, and the Indian Wars. You’ll delve into the seemingly familiar story of Westward Expansion—the pioneer trails, the Gold Rush, the Transcontinental Railroad—to discover the stories of the American Indian people who fought and negotiated to preserve their ancestral lands. Professor Cobb debunks many of the myths that you’ve taken as fact by providing the alternative side of the story:

  • You’ll learn that the impression many of us were given about European “discoverers” conquering and controlling the Native Americans was grossly exaggerated. Native Americans remained in positions of power from the beginning and through succeeding centuries.
  • You’ll hear the truth behind the many-times misinterpreted story of Pocahontas. She did not save John Smith’s life, nor did she and John Smith fall in love (and it is unclear whether she fell in love with her colonial husband John Rolfe). Professor Cobb dismisses these fairy tale versions and provides the (much more interesting) true story behind this supposedly well-known Native American heroine.
  • You’ll explore how Native Americans viewed, participated in, and used the Revolutionary War to form strategic alliances. Thought to be simply a clash between colonists and the British, Native American nations pushed back against a peace treaty that didn’t involve them in order to have a seat at the table.

The Impact of Colonization

The early colonial period introduced the Columbian Exchange, which created “new worlds for all” by transforming the lives of Indigenous peoples and Europeans alike. The Columbian Exchange refers to the transference of plants, animals, and diseases between the Americas and Eurasia and Africa that began with Christopher Columbus. It is quite an understatement to say the Columbian Exchange changed everything. In fact, the processes and consequences of this convergence are overwhelming in their complexity and their ramifications can still be felt today. Consider the following:

  • Coffee, pears, bananas, flour, queso, pilsners, peaches, apples, and cream are just a few of the staples we take for granted that wouldn’t become part of the modern American diet until they were introduced from abroad as a result of the Columbian Exchange.
  • On the flip side, Native Americans introduced colonials (and thus the world) to maize or corn, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, and manioc or cassava, as well as peanuts, tomatoes, cocoa, squash and pumpkins, pineapples, papaya, and avocados. These commodities then helped define the cuisines of other countries. As Professor Cobb asks, can you imagine Italian food without tomatoes?
  • Dandelions, sow thistle, shepherd’s purse, clover, and turf grass wouldn’t exist in North America unless the colonials had brought them. Without turf grass, football, soccer, and baseball and America’s lawns would be quite different.
  • When Columbus returned to the new world in 1493, he brought a host of animals that Indigenous people had never seen before, including donkeys, goats, sheep, chickens, pigs, cattle, and horses – none of which would exist in America otherwise. It may be surprising to discover that “Horse Nations,” such as the Lakota, Comanche, and Apache—portrayed as the stereotypical horse-riding Indians of the Plains—were a product of the Columbian Exchange.

This period of exchange was responsible for much of what we consider staple foods of America, as well as introducing the rest of the world to commodities they would never have accessed otherwise. As you journey through this course, you’ll be introduced to the many ramifications—both positive and negative—of a myriad of historical events that have long been told from only one side.

Discover the Unsung Heroes

There are countless stories of Native Americans whose achievements, sacrifices, or contributions have long been unacknowledged. With Professor Cobb’s knowledge and gift for storytelling, and aided by the hundreds of historical artworks and artifacts provided by the Smithsonian, you’ll get to know dozens of names and stories that previously went unrecognized. You’ll see that one of the marines in the iconic image of the American flag being lifted over Iwo Jima was Native American. The Carlisle Indian Industrial School was a dominant football team by the early 20th century, routinely crushing such big-school opponents as Army, Navy, Penn, Harvard, Chicago, and Yale. The Choctaws used their language to great effect during the final campaign of World War I, creating an unbreakable code for military communications. Twenty-nine Navajo men were recruited to devise a way to send and receive coded messages, creating an unbreakable codebook of 200 Navajo words used during combat in World War II.

Throughout this course, your eyes will be opened to legendary historical figures such as Pontiac, Tecumseh, John Ross, Black Kettle, Sitting Bull, and Geronimo—individuals you may already be familiar with, but may be surprised to find out what you didn’t know as Professor Cobb delivers their detailed biographies. You’ll also hear about lesser-known Native Americans who made significant contributions to the America we know today, such as Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa, or artists such as Wohaw and Fritz Scholder. And explore the role of women throughout Native American history, looking at the contributions of Laura Cornelius Kellogg, Sarah Winnemucca, Wilma Mankiller, Lili‘uokalani, Alberta Schenck, and Zitkala-Ša.

Going Beyond Wounded Knee

Native American history is often treated as though it ended in the late 19th century. Professor Cobb remedies this misconception by dedicating a full third of the course to the challenges and achievements of Native Americans in the late 19th and 20th centuries, as well as current events. Together, with evocative items and information straight from the collections and archives of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, you’ll hear the story of modern Native Americans, the people, challenges, and diverse cultures that came out of the 20th century and beyond. Professor Cobb unpacks well-known events and practices such as Wounded Knee and the Ghost Dance while also delving into the implications of lesser known incidents. For example, you’ll investigate the impact of World War I and World War II, reform movements such as the New Deal, and also many persistent issues including repatriation, gaming, religious rights, tribal jurisdiction, and more.

You’ll discover how in the 1960s and 1970s, Native American activism mirrored the mainstream protest movements of the era, first finding expression in literature, music, art, and higher education, and eventually making real change through legislative and judicial reform. Calling again on the Smithsonian’s exclusive archive of art, portraits, and artifacts, you’ll see key examples of how the counterculture both reflected and influenced the struggle for Native American recognition and rights.

Through these dazzling visuals, and Professor Cobb’s narration, you will come to understand that we are still in the midst of an era of Indigenous recovery and revitalization—one that has tested the limits of individual rights and tribal sovereignty. He’ll outline a few of the critical sites of contemporary struggle, including gaming, which has been the single most successful means of promoting economic development in reservation communities since it took off in the late 1980s. The first Native American operated casino opened in 1979 and shortly thereafter more than 120 tribes had followed suit. Although state governments reacted defensively, the concept of tribal sovereignty emerged victorious, which has not only helped the infrastructure of the Native American communities to grow and thrive, but has helped to revitalize depressed economies by providing jobs, business opportunities, and development.

Native Peoples of North America recounts an epic story of resistance and accommodation, persistence and adaption, extraordinary hardship and survival across more than 500 years of colonial encounter. As the Smithsonian curators stated, “The past never changes. But the way we understand it, learn about it, and know about it changes all the time.” Be prepared – this course is going to change how you understand American history. And no matter how much you know about this subject, at the conclusion, you will be surprised at how much you’ve learned.

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24 lectures
 |  31 minutes each
  • 1
    Native America: A Story of Survival
    You'll begin by comparing the commonly held views of Native Americans to the realities of what was, and still is, a tapestry of rich and vibrant cultures. Professor Cobb will explain the pitfalls that occur when history doesn't provide this crucial viewpoint, and will break down the fallacies that result from the common mistake of consigning Native Americans to the past. x
  • 2
    The Columbian Exchange: New Worlds for All
    Explore the how the misleading dichotomy of Old World" and "New World" has impacted perceptions of Native Americans for decades. Delve into the "Columbian Exchange," which is the crux behind the creation of "new worlds for all" and learn about the enduring ramifications these processes had in shaping everything from the fauna and flora to the cuisines of the world." x
  • 3
    The Native South and Southwest in the 1600s
    You'll examine the cultures that existed prior to the Spanish Invasion, the struggle for power through Hernando de Soto's entrada through the Southeast, and the Pueblo War for Independence in the Southwest. Dr. Cobb introduces the Native American worlds that were born in the aftermath of these transformative events. x
  • 4
    Werowocomoco and Montaup in the 1600s
    Using common material objects as examples, Dr. Cobb demonstrates how connections were forged between Native Americans and newcomers as they incorporated each other into their worlds. In doing so, both cultures were transformed. You'll examine specific examples across the Northeastern Woodlands down to Werowocomoco, in present-day Virginia, to understand how the search for common ground began at first contact and still exists today. x
  • 5
    Iroquoia and Wendake in the 1600s
    Once Europeans arrived, the Native peoples of the Northeast were determined to maintain their autonomy, despite becoming more integrated with the newcomers. Focusing on the strategies and experiences of the Wendat and Iroquois, you'll understand how Native Americans transformed the European colonial project while preserving a measured separatism. x
  • 6
    Indian-European Encounters, 1700-1750
    Through an exploration of the Iroquois Confederacy and the Lenape-or Delaware-people in the Northeast, the Great Lakes region-called by the French the pays d'en haut-- and the Southeast, you'll learn how Native Americans kept or lost their lands through treaties, war, and negotiations. In many cases, the repercussions of these conflicts sometimes went beyond relocation, resulting in enslavement or near annihilation. x
  • 7
    The Seven Years' War in Indian Country
    The French and Indian War is often portrayed in history as a crucial turning point for Native nations in the East. In some cases, that is true. For some, it served as a victory, for others a defeat. And for a greater number still it had no immediate impact on their lives. This lecture will change the storyline you've heard by exploring the perspectives of Native people who experienced the era quite differently-tribal nations that deployed both time-tested and innovative strategies to survive between Europe's would-be empires. x
  • 8
    The American Revolution through Native Eyes
    Examine three ways Native Americans experienced the American Revolution: as allies, as participants in their own civil wars, and as neutral parties. For many Native Americans, the resolution of the American Revolution held little meaning: there would be no liberty for them under the rule of the colonists or the Crown. It was also a period that resulted in treaties and conflicts between Native American nations as different groups allied with or fought against the enemy. x
  • 9
    Indian Resistance in the Ohio Country
    Explore how the 1783 Treaty of Paris-which settled the American Revolutionary War between England and the colonists-brought no peace to Native Americans. Programs that were instituted during this period to help Native nations become self-sufficient-such as "expansion with honor" or establishing reservations-ultimately had the opposite effect. x
  • 10
    Indian Removal: Many Trails, Many Tears
    One of the most well-known and dramatic stories in American history is that of the Cherokee nation and the Trail of Tears. Professor Cobb reveals the story behind the story-one of two nations emerging and transforming, during which legal battles, political manipulations, and a clash between the ill-defined limits of federal and state jurisdiction and tribal sovereignty that eventually reached the United States Supreme Court. He'll share insights into what it meant to walk the Trail of Tears and the impact of removal on tribal nations. x
  • 11
    Native Transformations on the Great Plains
    From John Wayne to Dances with Wolves, we are presented a very distinct view of Native Americans in the West. Professor Cobb presents a profoundly different perspective on this story. From Lewis and Clark's discovery" of a West that was an established home for thousands of indigenous people to the three factors that drove more change than anything else in the transformation of Plains cultures-guns, horses, and disease-you'll hear a vastly different history than what is commonly understood." x
  • 12
    Indians, Manifest Destiny, and Uncivil Wars
    The Civil War is a turning point in American history, upholding the Constitutional promises of freedom for... some. One of the pivotal components of the decades leading up to the Civil War was expansion into the West under the doctrine of Manifest Destiny, which drew non-Indians into the West and sparked innumerable conflicts with Native nations. Examine the role Native Americans played in the years leading up to the Civil War, the controversial war itself, and the repercussions of the conflict on Native nations. x
  • 13
    Native Resistance in the West, 1850s-1870s
    Delve deeper into the struggle for lands in the Plains between the 1850s and the 1870s. You'll meet the fighters you've heard of, such as Sitting Bull, as well as those you may not have heard about, such as the Hunkpapa Gall, the Oglala Crazy Horse, and the Northern Cheyenne Wooden Leg, who led successful battles and defeated General Custer. You'll also see the negative repercussions of the 1869 completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. x
  • 14
    The Last Indian Wars?
    Focusing on the Far West, Southwest, and Plateau regions, Professor Cobb examines early laws put in place in California to control" Native Americans during the gold rush, including state funding to kill or enslave Native Americans. You'll also meet the "real" Geronimo and learn how he came to symbolize the Chiricahua Apache struggle to maintain independence, as well as Chief Joseph of the Nimi'ipuu or Nez Perce and his fight to preserve a home for his people on their ancestral lands." x
  • 15
    Challenging Assimilation and Allotment
    Reveal how Native Americans adjusted to or refused to give in to the extraordinary challenges and changes they faced during the late 19th and early 20th centuries-specifically the federal government's deliberate and multifaceted effort to dismantle tribal lands and obliterate tribal cultures through allotment and assimilation. Instead, Native people adopted innovative strategies that allowed them to determine their own futures on their own terms. x
  • 16
    American Indians and the Law, 1883-1903
    Violence and war were not the only options. Even after the alleged last Indian wars," Native Americans continued to fight for their rights and lands through the same legal system that had worked towards displacing them. You'll review three critical court cases, and meet leaders such as Standing Bear and Lone Wolf who stood up against "the courts of the conqueror" and continued to seek justice and defend tribal sovereignty." x
  • 17
    The Ghost Dance and the Peyote Road
    Professor Cobb explores how many Native people took matters into their own hands and gained a renewed sense of place, harmony, and balance through two religious movements: The Ghost Dance-often misperceived as the last gasp of resistance before the Indians' final vanishing act, and the Peyote Road-a critically important pathway to peace, reconciliation, and belonging. x
  • 18
    Native America in the Early 1900s
    Discover how Native Americans confounded the late 19th- and early 20th-century predictions about their inevitable disappearance by getting involved in very public arenas, becoming political actors and writers, artists, and athletes. Professor Cobb tells the stories of Native Americans who broke out of the stereotypes and examines their actions through four concepts: expectation, anomaly, the unexpected, and authenticity. x
  • 19
    American Indians and World War I
    Explore Native Americans' involvement in World War One and how it changed the meaning of citizenship and sovereignty in the beginning of the 20th century. Examine why Native soldiers fought in all of the major offensives after America's entry into the war, defending a country that was hostile to tribal sovereignty and also reluctant to extend U.S. citizenship to Native people. x
  • 20
    Making a New Deal in Native America
    Uncover some of the hidden histories of the period between the late 1920s and early 1940s as you learn how Native Americans set about making a New Deal for themselves and their communities during an era of uncertainty and convulsive change for the nation at large. You'll also get an introduction to the Indian New Deal, which helped open the door to greater self-government, economic development, and the protection of property rights. x
  • 21
    American Indians and World War II
    Move from World War I and the turbulent 30s to World War II to learn how the war and onset of the atomic age transformed the lives of Native Americans. While the challenges and opportunities faced by Native Americans paralleled the ones faced by many other Americans, you'll learn how the outcomes proved to be vastly different. And you'll discover Native American heroes of the War, often uncelebrated for their sacrifices to the country. x
  • 22
    Indian Termination or Self-Determination?
    Explore American Indian experiences during the early Cold War period, when loyalties were often questioned. Native Americans used the politics of the Cold War era to define freedom through the 1950s and 1960s. Nationalism and decolonization then surfaced as conflicts over fishing rights brought the struggle over Native American treaty rights back into the foreground of American consciousness. x
  • 23
    Native Radicalism and Reform, 1969-1978
    The late 1960s and early 1970s saw the efflorescence of American Indian militancy, beginning with the occupation of Alcatraz Island in 1969, through to the Trail of Broken Treaties in November 1972 and the Wounded Knee occupation in 1973. Professor Cobb will demonstrate how Native American activism intersected with the mainstream movements of the era through literature, music, art, and higher education, eventually making its way to legislative and judicial reforms. x
  • 24
    Reasserting Rights and Tribal Sovereignty
    Professor Cobb will reveal how tribal nations haven't settled for survival alone. We are still in the midst of an era of recovery and revitalization-one that has tested the limits of individual rights and tribal sovereignty. He'll follow a few of the critical sites of contemporary struggle, including gaming, repatriation, religious freedom, federal recognition, self-government, legal jurisdiction, and resource development. x

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Your professor

Daniel M. Cobb

About Your Professor

Daniel M. Cobb, Ph.D.
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Daniel Cobb is an Associate Professor of American Studies at The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He achieved a B.A. in History with a Sociology minor from Messiah College, where he graduated cum laude; a M.A. in History from the University of Wyoming; and a Ph.D. in History from the University of Oklahoma. He served as the assistant director of the Newberry Library’s D’Arcy McNickle Center for American Indians...
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Reviews

Native Peoples of North America is rated 3.9 out of 5 by 45.
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Earnest; Different than Expected The course content differed than what I expected in that it focused on interactions with European settlers rather than the culture of Native Americans. Professor Cobb gave a sincere performance , however, it seemed overly scripted. I would have preferred a more free-flowing discussion.
Date published: 2017-02-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very informative Great course eye opening an very well taught illustrations were excellent
Date published: 2017-02-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not Bad, But Not What I Expected Let me be clear up front: I sympathize - deeply - with the plight of the Native American peoples, past and present. Though of entirely European descent myself, I am horrified at how the European colonizers of the Americas treated the native population, disregarding their rich cultures and treating them as less than human. Indeed, it is precisely my desire to gain a better respect for their origins and cultures that have left me disappointed in this course. The title (and description) really aren't accurate. The course doesn't review the native peoples of North America; it covers the effects of the European settlement of North America on native peoples. Alas, I was already fairly well versed in that topic. But if you are not, then I recommend this course. The lectures are well organized and carefully scripted - no rambling or brain lapses. Professor Cobb's style does not vary much and I wouldn't call him dynamic, but nor would I call him boring. A couple of criticisms, starting with the obvious: * I am no wiser, none, as to the culture, religion, origins, languages and societies of the indigenous peoples of North America. I grew up in Shoshoni and Okanogan country but also had a number of friends at school who were Navaho, Hopi, Inuit, and various Salish peoples - differences I didn't really comprehend as a child. I bought the course expecting to learn more about that. Nothing. * "Native Peoples of North America" are treated en bloc. The languages of the Apache and Navaho are a geographically distant branch of the language group dominating Alaska and northwestern Canada. What do we know about how that may have happened? Are there cultural or religious similarities as well? Never mentioned, never hinted at. Professor Cobb threw around dozens, perhaps hundreds of tribal names, but only in passing. Sometimes he mentioned that this and that tribe spoke unrelated languages. Well, what language families WERE there on the continent? How did linguistic, religious, cultural diversity compare with, say, Europe? We're never told. Which brings me to... * The course assumes far too much background on the student's part. Maybe you learned in school that Sitting Bull was a Sioux. Maybe your teachers were better than mine and you learned he was Lakota. Professor Cobb refers to him as a "Hunkpapa" as if we all know how the Hunkpapa might differ from other Lakota. In the early lectures he kept referring to a tribe I kept hearing as "One Dot." Ah, I thought. That must be the proper prounciation of "Wyandot." A couple of lectures go by and suddenly the "One Dot" and "Wye-an-dot" are both mentioned. Off I go to the internet... defeating the purpose of buying the course in the first place. * Inexplicably, Professor Cobb takes up European mistreatment of the native Hawaiians. The Hawaiians are a Polynesian people of the Pacific, culturally and genetically unrelated to the "Native Peoples of North America" and the Hawaiian Islands are not part of that continent. He doesn't explain; doesn't try to tie in his Hawaiian comments to his ostensible subject. He just throws American treatment of the Hawaiians into two lectures ostensibly focusing on other matters. When the scope of North American native peoples reaches from the Arctic nearly to the equator, from the Pacific to the Caribbean; when three "Indians" of the American West might be as different in language, culture and even physical appearance as a Swede, a Turk and a Burmese; when an understanding of WHO they are would help so much to appreciate WHAT happened to them, it's hard for me to justify neglecting the former and focusing solely on the latter. I look forward to an offering from The Great Courses about the Native People of North America. Alas, this isn't it.
Date published: 2017-02-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good, but could have done with more content I was excited when this course was released. After watching it, I feel that more could have been included. One of the reasons I bought this course was to learn about the lives of the Natives: How did they go about their daily lives? What were some of the larger cultures and civilizations that grew, developed, and fell before Europeans? The Professor went into some detail about the lifestyles and habits of the Natives people, like the Sioux and Algonquin, but I feel that this course would have been better serviced with more lectures on those topics. The Indian Wars, themselves, should have been at least three lectures, instead of just one. They are landmark events in Native History and should have been given more thorough coverage. There were some parts of the course I did enjoy. Professor Cobb used a lot of personal accounts of Native peoples that really helped to shed light on the changes taken place in their society and culture. The maps and visuals were very helpful in giving a fuller picture. I hope in future that The Great Courses will add more content to their history courses.
Date published: 2017-02-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Great Course on The Whole Truth This course provides an excellent account on the transformation of North America from the Indigenous side of the fence. It is important to know the whole truth. This course should be taught in parallel with American History courses in all schools, public and private.
Date published: 2017-02-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Survey This is a good survey, and Daniel Cobb has a good understanding and knowledge of native American people of North America. My only complaint is that I enjoyed Edwin Barnhart's courses on Central and South America, which gave a rich history of Civilization before Europeans, and this course did not provide similar information. This course only has a brief amount of pre-Columbian history. I would like to know more about the mound builders, for example. I would also like to know more about the Iroquois League, which had a democracy for hundreds of years. I was also surprised that Cobb made no mention of Seneca chief, Ely Parker, who was a civil engineer and a good friend of Ulysses Grant. Parker was the one who wrote out the terms of surrender at Appomotax. When told that Parker was native American, Robert Lee said that he was glad that there was one real American there. Parker responded that everyone there was a real American. Parker was named a head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs during part of Grant's Presidency. I know that it's hard to cover everything in a short survey course, and this is a good course.
Date published: 2017-02-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very informative course! I bought this course aware that the treatment of native americans has not been good. Professor Cobb does an outstanding job helping the student understand the culture of the various Indian Nations, the response to the invasion of the Europeans, and their amazing capacity of survive. I came away better informed about the strengths of these people - in the past and today. I remain ashamed of what my forebears did and resolved to live a different way.
Date published: 2017-02-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well-presented and thoughtful course Although of English/Swedish heritage, I have long been fascinated by the pre-Columbian anthropology of the Pacific Northwest First Nations. After all, they were stomping around my neighborhood in Oregon for likely 16,000 years before us white folks showed up. I thought I knew a bit about historical colonial/tribal conflicts, but this course is masterful for telling the story from Indian perspective and long overdue. I learned a lot and now have a much better understanding of the lingering collective historical trauma still experienced in our modern tribal communities and families. Professor Cobb is a great narrator with a clear focus on the topic at hand while challenging long-held Euro-centric interpretations of the tribal vs colonial conflict. Examination of the political awakening events of the 1960s and 1970s brought back lots of memories for me since I grew up watching and reading about the physical and legal battles over fishing rights going on in my state. The only criticism I have of this course is the title. I assumed it was a grand tour of native America starting from the Bering Sea Land Bridge days of the last ice age. Perhaps it should be retitled to reflect a starting date of 1492. The guidebook cover photo of Cliff palace at Mesa Verde is misleading as it was abandoned long before Columbus stumbled into the Americas. Minor details aside, I highly recommend this course - very informational!
Date published: 2017-02-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brilliant and Thought-provoking At the outset of this course, Professor Cobb notes the distinction between the past and history. The past never changes, while history takes on different appearances depending on the point of view of the historian. Professor Cobb sets out to present a history of the indigenous people of North America from their perspective. He begins with an account of Christopher Columbus's "discovery of America" that differs from popular lore and describes how this appeared to and affected America's first nations. He continues with a history of European settlement of North America (focusing mainly on the United States), continuing through to the Revolutionary War, and on through to the 20th century. In each period that is the subject of his lectures, Professor Cobb looks at the historic occurrences through the eyes of the indigenous people and highlights the injustices perpetrated on them, including the making and breaking of treaties, the spread of diseases, and the physical displacement and attempts at cultural elimination. However the course is more than simply an intended attempt at shaming or the manufacturing of guilt. It also takes a look at first nations' culture, society, technology, industry and social and political structure. There are some issues of concern with this course. While it purports to be a history of "North American Indians", it is really a look at what was occurring in the United States, with very little mention of the significant historical occurrences in Canada and Mexico. Some may take issue with the use of the term "Indian", one that many view as a pejorative, and it will be up to each viewer to assess whether this is a continuation of a prejudice or whether that point of view stretches the bounds of political correctness too far. While Professor Cobb seeks to have the student empathize with the first nations in experiencing their interactions with their "conquerors", at times he appears to take this too far, for example, when he seems to downplay significant acts of vandalism by 20th century protesters as disproportionate to the subject of their protest. Overall however, this is an excellent course, not only for its thoroughness and authenticity, but especially for its thought provoking nature, as it causes the student to take a close look at the fairness of how these people were treated by the Europeans and their descendants. Professor Cobb does not tell his audience how they should decide the morality of how this history appears through the eyes of his "historians". The material he presents is powerful enough to cause the student to consider those questions independently. This is a course designed for thinking men and women who are not afraid of confronting the challenging questions associated with this particular portion of history.
Date published: 2017-01-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Course title does not reflect content The subject of Native Americans is multi-faceted and could not be covered in one course. Many of the criticisms directed at this one reflect different people's expectations. Those for whom the course addressed topics they wished addressed rate it highly, those for whom it did not rated it low. Part of the problem was, I think, the title., which allowed people to attach their own wishes for this course. The course does not, could not, address everything about Native Americans but rather focused on one aspect, the turbulent interactions between Native Americans and the Europeans who came to the North American shores, saw the native people, and thought "Nobody here, we can claim the land as our own." This attitude, which persists yet today in some circles was and is the cause of the conflicts. This is nothing new, of course, we have known this for a long time, but Dr.Cobb's course tells it from the perspective of the Native people, not of the settlers/invaders. It is in that focus that this course shines. I do have some problems with the course as presented. In the course guidebook Dr. Cobb writes "The course begins with the origin stories that indigenous peoples and archeologists have fashioned to explain the peopling of Native North America." If it did, I missed it as I don't recall anything but a glancing reference to paleo-indians. Such ancient settlements as Chaco, Cahokia and Acoma are mentioned with no explanations. Had I not myself visited these sites I would still know nothing about them. A course on pre-European Native America would be very helpful. Another issue I have is the naming of a large number of obscure Native tribes with nothing given in the way of context, relating them to each other. A Native American "family tree" showing the main roots of native peoples (eg the pueblo indians, the Algonquins, etc) and the many tribes that are related to each of these would have been most instructive but probably requires a separate course. As many other reviewers have pointed out, a detailed discussion of Native cultures, religious beliefs, art, music, etc. would be of great interest but again will require a course of its own. Where this course shines is in it's treatment of the interactions of the European invaders with the native's they encountered. This is treated from the early armed conflict days into the 20th century where much of the actions moves to the courts. I found the last 7 - 8 lectures most fascinating as they delved into the legal actions (and inactions) surrounding Native issues. These lectures alone are worth the price of admission. I encourage The Great Courses to produce more courses about our Native People each dealing with another aspect of their life histories.
Date published: 2017-01-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wanted More Although the course presented the viewpoint of Native Americans interacting first with European settlers and later the U.S. government and the westward expansion of settlers which has been sadly neglected I was hoping for more information on the culture, religion, and daily lives. I understand there is a tremendous amount of diversity but it seems some representative samples perhaps based on location and the impact the environment had on their lives could have been attempted. A few years back I suggested a course on Native Americans and was very pleased a course was done. I only wish the course had taken a more expansive look at Native Americans to better understand their lives today and in the past.
Date published: 2017-01-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from very impressive course This is a very interesting, informative, and well presented course. Professor Cobb exhibits an impressive access to, understanding of, and presentation of a vast amount of material, and corrects for the often presented image that Native American history ended in 1890 with the Wounded Knee massacre. The last third of the course articulates, with many examples, the challenges of the late 19th, 20th, and early 21st centuries, the many ways Native peoples maintained the richness of their cultures in the face of the dominant cultures' "pulverizing engine of progress," how they maintained "agency," adapted "on their own terms," and continue the struggle for sovereignty today. The emphasis is on how Native peoples "made" and continue to "make sense of the world around them." In the process, Professor Cobb integrates a wide variety of voices and scholarship, Native and non-Native. I highly recommend the DVD, as the images, quotes, and outlines are very well integrated into the lectures.
Date published: 2017-01-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I've been waiting for this course for a long time! Glad you finally got it for us. Haven't finished it yet, but looking forward to the whole course. Good work.
Date published: 2017-01-11
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Native Peoples of NA The lectures primarily focused on the impact of the US's growth on Native Peoples of NA. I was expecting more information about the Native People of NA prior to the arrival of Europeans.
Date published: 2017-01-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Interesting topic not routinely taught While the course is excellent and informative, I would highly recommend the DVD or visual presentation. While well presented, much, I believe, is lost without the visual references. This was not practical for me as I use the Great Courses during my physical workout routine that does not facilitate viewing. As expected, the course is presented with a strong bias to the Native American point of view. This was appropriate as the "other point of view" is the view with which we are all familiar.
Date published: 2017-01-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from
Date published: 2017-01-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from First rate in-depth history An excellent and detailed review of Native peoples throughout North America over four centuries by a brilliant Smithsonian expert. How they survived very harsh wars and repression by the US and state governments and westward expanding settlers and yet still exist today retaining culture and folkways.
Date published: 2016-12-29
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Dull History of American Indians This course takes a subject which I am interested in and made it dull and uninteresting.
Date published: 2016-12-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Inspired History of Native Americans I found the course very thorough and engaging. It was an unvarnished history of the struggle of Native Americans during colonization from the arrival of Columbus to present day. The injustice experienced by these peoples made me both sad and angry but their resilience is most inspiring. My only wish was information about the various Indian nations and tribes before contact with Europeans. I suspect this may have been difficult due to the lack of written language and artefacts such as stone etchings. Regardless the course was well worth the time.
Date published: 2016-12-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Close, but no cigar! A pictorial map flowchart of territory held by each tribe from colonial times to 1900's would have been interesting. For instance how many years did the Sioux tribes actually live on the northern great plains and how many years did they live in the Great Lakes region ( and specifically where in the G. L. region); i.e., a map showing the displacement of each tribe over time! An explanation of what makes tribes distinct from each and the unique characteristics of each tribe was glossed over. The politics of Indian diplomacy was a strong suit of the presentation.
Date published: 2016-12-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very informative course I've studied, written about, and lectured on Native American history and culture most of my life (though white, I was even in an Indian dancing troupe as a teen). This course was tremendously informative, especially about Native history in the 20th-21st centuries.
Date published: 2016-12-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Good Perspective The author is clearly an expert and does a good job in describing the sad history of Natives in the USA. It's a bit on the dry side, and the occasional personal comment would help, especially as the professor is sympathetic to the horrendous way Natives have been treated. A table listing all tribes and their geographic location would help. Should include some maps showing the regions under discussion and the locations of the relevant tribes. Overall, well presented and good information.
Date published: 2016-12-09
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not what I expected Like some others who have written reviews, I was disappointed by the content. I was expecting to learn about how the Native Americans lived, their housing, domestic relationships, familial relationships, language, music, art and more. Instead, the course is, at times, a mind-numbing recitation of battle after battle, discourses into who did what to whom when, a description broken or misunderstood treaties, etc. It is all about the not so admirable encounters between Native Americans and Europeans. There are times when the professor focuses so closely on trees in the forest that I forgot there was a forest at all. For history buffs who want to know the blow by blow accounts of battles and unfulfilled expectations, this course will suffice. But if you want to know about Native American culture, you will have to wait for another offering from the GC.
Date published: 2016-12-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good macro history from an Indian point of view I am not Native American however this lecture series is a serious attempt to authentically present the history form the native point of view. It covers a lot of territory literally and figuratively. If Native American history is a serious interest the lecture series is well worth the time and money.
Date published: 2016-12-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Painful but important history I don't know of anyone who doesn't cringe when we mention what our forefather did to the American Indians - yet it's a tale (unfortunately ongoing to some extent) that needs to be told. And this exceptionally well done course fulfills that painful bill. My only criticism is in the graphics. The light brown on darker brown words are readable only with difficulty and the titles, in some kind of mushy script, are hopeless. I suggest you fix them, at which point this course will deserve a 5+.
Date published: 2016-11-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from All of the many Great Courses history lectures that I have listened to have been very good. The Native Peoples was not as good. A bit unorganized and seemed to be more commentary than historical reporting.
Date published: 2016-11-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Wrong course title The teacher is knowledgeable but the course title and advertising are somewhat misleading. I thought "Native Peoples of North America," in partnership with the Smithsonian would be about culture. I thought it would include art, artifacts, indigenous traditions, music, etc. And, the first lecture did. After that, Dr. Cobb lectures on politics and warfare. If you are interested in how the U.S. government took the Native Americans' land and annihilated them through germ warfare, then this class is for you. If you were hoping for art, literature, music, and traditions of native people than you will be disappointed like I was. This course should be titled, Broken Treaties, Broken People: a history of dishonest promises and genocide.
Date published: 2016-11-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A lot of information This is an excellent survey of the role of the Native American in US history from the time of contact. He covers a vast amount of material in a concise way with good graphics. He presents a lot of obscure and thought provoking facts (images) about the interaction of the various tribes and the white "colonists". He does a good job of the events of the 20 th. C which shaped US government policies towards native peoples. A real eye opener that goes beyond the commonly known events (i.e. Trail of Broken Treaties, The Longest Walk, and Wounded Knee II).
Date published: 2016-11-21
Rated 3 out of 5 by from native people of n america This course was not really what I was expecting. I was hoping for something more anthropological. I am very interested in pre-Columbian history of the North American Indian. This course did not really cover that. This course was more on the political and human rights side of the American Indian story. I did find as I listen to the course, I came to appreciate the course more. Especially the 2nd disk where we learn about what was happening in modern times. But I would still like to see a course on the pre-Columbian history of the North American Indian. I have enjoyed other course more.
Date published: 2016-11-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Long winded The information is good but it could have been presented in half the time. Not much flow to this information and a little hard to follow.
Date published: 2016-11-17
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