Native Peoples of North America

In partnership with
Professor Daniel M. Cobb, Ph.D.
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
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124 Reviews
65% of reviewers would recommend this product
Course No. 8131
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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
 |  Average 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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  • 216-page printed course guidebook
  • Illustrations and photographs
  • Questions to consider
  • Suggested reading

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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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Native Peoples of North America is rated 3.6 out of 5 by 124.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Professor Daniel M. Cobb really knows the history of the Native People of North America. He is an excellent teacher. His lectures are very interesting and he shows many picures and art work to help explain what he is talking about.
Date published: 2019-06-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent This is an excellent presentation. I've had to deal with native activists and radicals so I found Professor Cobb's approach fairly moderate. It's a history that I didn't have the opportunity to learn as a youngster. We must bear in mind that individual's attitudes and experiences may differ. The course is called Native Peoples of North America but its focus is primarily American history. More content about the indigenous peoples in Canada after the War of 1812 would have been helpful.
Date published: 2019-06-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Native Peoples of North America Here in Oklahoma there is available, a tremendous amount of Native American History. Thus far this title seems to add a little to the other sources I have experienced. Having them gives me an additional source of information. Which I can refer to at my leisure. I find myself selecting only those title that have CDs and the course guidebook..!! SUGGESTION: Offer either or CD or DVD, at a price somewhere between the current price of the two; along with the guidebook. The two items (CD and guidebook) are a combination that complete the subject.
Date published: 2019-05-14
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointing This course was very disappointing to me. It's not what I thought it would be. The course focused on European and American oppression of the native Americans. I thought I was going to learn about the cultures and accomplishments of the First Americans. The professor although accomplished definitely had an anti American agenda. However what he said cannot be denied. The First Americans were treated poorly.
Date published: 2019-05-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Misleading This course is more political than I was looking for. But interesting. I have only watched 3 lectures. I'll probably watch the rest.
Date published: 2019-05-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Comprehensive and enlightening, slightly flawed. Very valuable for anyone wanting to understand American history in its entirety. My one complaint is that Cobb does not treat the atrocities and excesses very fairly. Both sides were guilty of terrible acts, and although the actions of the settlers and their governments richly deserve the lion's share of the blame, neither side was angelic.
Date published: 2019-05-01
Date published: 2019-04-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Understanding Finally learning the history of the Native People.
Date published: 2019-04-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well Done The instructor provides lectures that are tied together into a magnificent and, in many ways, tragic story. His overviews and understanding are combined with an excellent teaching style. I wish I had material like this when I was younger.
Date published: 2019-04-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Trail of Tears On A National Scale This course history on the indigenous peoples in North America is a trail of tears on a national scale and features the short-comings of growth and expansion during those centuries. Manifest Destiny makes perfect sense and it seems like a logical conclusion anyway. At the same time, these peoples should have been given greater respect, fairer planning, and greater care with their displacement. They were looked down upon and not respected for how they wanted to raise their families in peace and keep their way of life from thousands of years. Assimilation takes time. Does better technology make one better than another? They should have retained sizable portions of their native lands and waters. At first, they were given millions of acres via treaties, but that was taken (stolen) and replaced by lesser/worse substitutes or barrenness. What do you get when the “civilized” arrive? You get avarice, theft, deceit, fraud, land fever, gold fever, and a federal government that could not deliver on treaty promises. They suffered in a multitude of ways, particularly their destruction by military lethal force. All military action was not necessary. George Custer and other Civil War veterans killed women and children in their camps. Their population destruction by disease is noteworthy, too, and caused by the simple collision of cultures. Smallpox was extremely deadly. This history is tragic with massive inhumanity and injustice. If you want a reason why the federal government should not be in charge of anything, the American Indian is the best case study. I wanted to learn more about the indigenous peoples, especially those tribes in the eastern U.S., this course fully delivered and the speaker did his homework.
Date published: 2019-03-27
Rated 1 out of 5 by from My doubts were confirmed I was reluctant to order this course after reading the mixed reviews. After watching this course, painfully at that, I wish I hadn't ordered it. The political correctness gets to the annoying point, but what can you expect from the Smithsonian. Anybody wanting a course that teaches about the anthropologic and culturally history of native people would be well served to avoid this course.
Date published: 2019-02-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from very good, fit the subject matter The level of detail was outstanding. Combining the Smithsonian history and records with the knowledge of Prof Cobb was outstanding.
Date published: 2019-01-27
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Native peoples I was extremely disappointed in this course. Found professor boring and a strong belief that things are ok with the native communities contrary to all evidence. As a 20+ year purchaser of courses I found this unquestionably the worst. In addition there was a floutist playing musical accompaniment in background which made hearing lecturer difficult to hear at times.
Date published: 2019-01-26
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Product was a gift which was returned unopened. Boo-Hoo!
Date published: 2019-01-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Not perfect but informative and important This course covers its subject in two ways: it presents a summary of the events, nations, and peoples of North American Natives from pre-Columbian times to the present (i.e., a classic “history” coverage), and also re-tells the story focusing on what non-Natives and the US government did to these peoples over the last 500 years, from the perspective of the Natives themselves (i.e., a “revisionist history” coverage). The coverage of the first of these is limited by time constraints and seems patchy and superficial in places, while still presenting a lot more about Indian history and culture than I knew before. The second agenda, basically to detail the genocide and multiple other cultural atrocities perpetrated on North American Native peoples by non-Natives and their governments throughout history, dominated many of the lectures and was sobering, important, and in places painful to watch. It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say that every secondary-school pupil in the country should be exposed to this material. The presenter is a true authority on his subject and his delivery is clear and articulate. This is another of the Teaching Company’s courses in which the contribution of the co-sponsoring entity (the Smithsonian in this case) is a sort of show-and-tell embellishment of visual supplementary material (some of which, like the objects in the stage set, is presented with no identification or explanation), and I could have done without the “Native-sounding” flute music and at the beginning and end of each lecture. If the company could offer a second, more comprehensive companion course on the anthropology, sociology, and cultural contributions of the different tribes themselves, the two would be a great set. For example, such a new course could tell us a great deal more about the Native peoples of Alaska and the Canadian north, which I found myself wishing for as this one focused almost exclusively on the tribes and nations of the original 48 states.
Date published: 2018-12-27
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disappointing I won;t go on at length because other reviewers have expressed my opinion so well. Dull, dry delivery, one-sided (Indians=saints, Europeans=sinners). There are so many good history lecturers that it is hard to understand why this professor was rated so highly. I ought to have returned it.
Date published: 2018-12-06
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Worst course I've ever had from the Great courses I got courses about central and south american history. They were great!! They talked about all the history of the people of south and central america. The Spanish conquest was included but it covered 5 of 48 lectures. This course started in 1500AD and was a politically correct, hate fest of every thing the white man did to the north american natives. North american native had no history before Europeans arrived?!! There were so many question and aspects of native american history I would like to learn but were never addressed
Date published: 2018-11-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A comprehensive overview..... The study having the perspective of the "Native American" in mind in reviewing the history is VERY enlightening. Such correction of the way we speak of that "history" is significantly important for the rest of our society to realize that indigenous people are STILL among us....and that they have a present and well as a past. The narration is interesting and simple enough for most of us to comprehend....and the accompanying illustrations and video punctuate and accentuate the information very well. I am part of our church's "Native American Committee" which supports recognizing indigenous people that are among us.....even today when many think that they no longer exist as tribal entities or groups. Even my own family tree has a "full-blood" Mohawk in the line several generations back.....and my wife is 1/8th Cherokee. This is an indicator too, of the "exchange of cultures" even in today's modern society... All-in-all, I am very glad to have these lessons to learn from and refer to in the future. Thank you.....
Date published: 2018-10-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting Course - Learned much I bought this course for the topic, it is one I know something about but wanted to learn more. I learned quite a bit, actually, at least one or two new facts every lesson. The professor is a little tedious at times, but perhaps I'm just a long time from college. I didn't skip around - even though I wanted to at times - I tried to accept the pace and tenor of the course, it was hard. Overall, I rate this course good because I enjoyed it, despite the drawbacks, and I would recommend to anyone who wants to know more about American Indians!
Date published: 2018-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well conceived Filled in many gaps and facts, my main background “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee”, decades ago. It will induce some “White Guilt”, as expected, and may have the side effect of tempering American Patriotism, for the better I think. Nationalism can be dangerous (1930’s Germany, for instance). I’m glad my French Canadian ancestors didn’t migrate to the NE until the 1890’s, although the French were not without their atrocities also, as were many Indians (I lost ancestors in the Lachine Massacre). We are not yet civilized, even now, which all history is important in revealing.
Date published: 2018-10-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Bought as a gift so I haven't seen the course. This was a gift for my grandson. He is rather interested in American Indian culture.
Date published: 2018-08-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Comprehensive History The professor presented a well-researched, comprehensive history of the plight of the Native Americans from the arrival of the Europeans to the present day. I purchased this course prior to a trip to the Lakota Territories and am so glad I did. The professor was well organized and easy to listen to. It saddened me to learn how we let the Native Americans down time and time again. And heartened me to learn of their resilience and determination to keep their culture alive through the generations.
Date published: 2018-08-22
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Largely editorial. Living in the West, I'm very familiar just how fascinating and informative a museum of the American Indian can be. I was expecting something with a Smithsonian tag on it to be exceptional. It was the opposite. So much unnecessary commentary, that it actually became somewhat annoying. To present the tragedy of Indian history, the facts are the most powerful means, and the means that so many wonderful museums use. This guy shows a photo of a Native World War One vet in a wheelchair -and tells us what he's thinking!!! (Just one of many such examples). Of course, the political bias of modern academia enters in, but there's no escaping that. There's not much in this course to offer a person who is somewhat informed about Indian history and culture (there is some). Will have to return this one. A shame because it appears to be the only course on Native Peoples offered. The Teaching Company would do well to try again. Please! Would love to see a video tour of the awesome museums, many just roadside stops.
Date published: 2018-08-12
Rated 2 out of 5 by from History but no answers I have to admit this course was a major disappointment. I was hoping to learn something about native American culture and religion. How and why did many of these people live an essentially stone age life with modernity blooming and in fact exploding around them?? Native Americans are just as intelligent and capable as the Europeans that invaded their land and destroyed their culture. With the huge mineral wealth of North America why no metallurgy? Why didn’t the “Indians” mine the gold in the black hills and other areas and buy artillery and other weapons to defend themselves?? And, the biggest questions of all why did any of them believe any “white” man and why didn’t the Indians band together more often to fight a common foe. There is an old expression, “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me” This expression apparently wasn’t circulated among the native Americans. This course leads one to the erroneous conclusion that native Americans were stupid ignorant children. I realize that the instructor was not trying to give this impression but his failure to explain, except to note smallpox epidemics, the massacre of millions of native Americans leads to this unfortunate conclusion. Just detailing the history of the massacre does not explain the why. I have just as many questions after the course as I did before. Instead of answering any of the above, all the course did was rehash the the long and well known history of the transplanted Europeans’ attempted and largely successful genocide of the American Indians. I’m 67 and grew up on John Wayne and even I have heard of Wounded Knee. This barbarity of the “white” man is no surprise, look what the Spanish did to South and Central America. Why did anyone actually believe that the same people that kidnapped and enslaved millions of Africans would behave honorably toward any people or culture that stood between them and their greed just because a few white men wrote some pretty sounding words in 1776 and thereafter. I have taken more than a dozen of these Courses and they are generally excellent and I have given them good to great reviews;but this one is the exception.
Date published: 2018-06-22
Rated 1 out of 5 by from An Extremely One-Sided Presentation The main problem with this series of lectures is that Professor Cobb assumes the listener believes that European-Americans have been blameless in their interactions with native Americans and that European settlers were unfairly subjected to Indian raids and scalpings and such. Accordingly, he sets out to inform us that the Europeans (and, later, the United States government) have never done anything remotely fair, while the Indian tribes’ actions have, without exception, been above reproach. Although there may be a small proportion of the population that still holds the extremely biased non-PC views that the professor ascribes to his audience, my guess is that those misinformed people are not the ones who listen to TGC lectures, so he is not reaching them. Instead, he is preaching his extremely one-sided version of history to people who start with a very sympathetic view of the native American peoples, having already heard much about atrocities committed by the “newcomers” (as he calls them). As a result, Professor Cobb’s polemics against whites (and his non-critical or forgiving view of every action by a native American) become more and more tiresome as the lectures go on. For example, at one point he begins a sentence by saying, “Only a ‘newcomer’ could be so foolish as to believe …” As another example, he spends considerable time describing the accomplishments of native Americans who were outstanding athletes or exceptional members of the U.S. armed forces. Does he think that we doubt Indians’ athletic skills or their ability to be effective soldiers? I agree with the reviewers who were disappointed that there was no discussion of native Americans prior to Columbus, and very little explanation of their cultural practices. Also, like many other reviewers, I would have preferred a balanced discussion that held Indians responsible for some of their questionable acts, and objectively described some of the actions taken by the U.S. to help native Americans. But unlike other reviewers, I had no problem with the lecturer’s delivery style. He could have written more interesting and informative lectures, but I did not find his presentation hard to listen to. While there are some things to be learned in these lectures, my overall assessment is that they are overly dry, remarkably one-sided, and not worth your time.
Date published: 2018-06-21
Rated 1 out of 5 by from native peoples of north america This course is a story about North American indigenous people, one often MIA in high school textbooks. I have listened to hundreds of Great Courses over the years. More are excellent. Some are superb. Unfortunately, this one is neither. At its core, it is a brutal slog of how tribes responded and adapted to western culture since 1492. It was a valiant effort that failed to prevent (and even promote?) disastrous results. The people survived, barely. As Black Elk said, it is hard to eat lies. The difficulty is the course's microscopic focus and metronomic thrum of the clash between secular-saint tribes and bad-to-the-bone western culture. No moral ambiguity here. Rinse and repeat. It echoes Will Rogers' comment that his Dad read only one (partisan) newspaper so his mind wouldn't be cluttered with more than one thought. It also suggests great children's literature, akin to Flannery O'Conner's comment about "To Kill a Mockingbird." The course emphasizes cameos/characters/events/contingencies at the expense of "big history" like Fernand Braudel's The Long Duree. By analogy, this kind of course would blame Roman Republic growth on a lust for power, ignoring legions, Roman roads, and its never-surrender mentality. Better, the course could have traced out the broad, incompatible cultural contours of the multiple parties. (See Jefferson Davis on this point. Something was going to give, on the continent.) It could have compared the lineaments of the competing economic systems. Or discussed competing technologies, disease vulnerability, written language usage, religions, balance-of-trade; as well as radically different conceptions concerning private property, land-use, and how to conduct wars. Like Walt Whitman, North America's half-a-thousand squabbling tribes contained multitudes. Conflict usually meant an inter-tribal scrum with different tribes taking both sides. As with the English Bloomsbury set, every couple/dispute involved a triangle. Heck, Indian Scouts helped to hunt down Geronimo. Or the Indian Commissioner who successfully lobbied for WWII Japanese internment camps TBD on tribal lands. A sort of metastasized reservation-within-a-reservation. You can't make up this stuff. Ah well, add this course to a groaning bookshelf of victim-grievance and identity-group advocacy. Let's just not call it history. Maybe "PC polemics."
Date published: 2018-06-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from "An Indigenous History of America" I thoroughly enjoyed this course and am about to dive into it for a second run through. The professor has a detailed and nuanced understanding of the perspective of Native Americans in the history of the US. This course, or something similar to it, should be standard fare in our educational system. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2018-06-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Great detail - little passion I just completed this course. The lectures were eye opening. I knew that the American Indians were mistreated throughout history but this series brought my understanding of the injustices to a new level. The lectures were well organized and presented a variety of facts and specifics concerning their mistreatment throughout history. However, I felt that the statistics were often ineffective and not very useful. It would have been more helpful had they compared the Indian experience to other nationalities or the country as a whole. Worse, there was never a personal connection. There were few personal, emotional stories that would evoke any passion or compassion. After 24 lectures I had to wonder "Why should I care?" and "Why is the Indian culture worth preserving and valuing?" even though I do care. That's why I purchased this course to start with! This is sad because I believe Indian history is an American treasure, as is their culture. I was hoping that this course would deepen my appreciation and understanding of these great peoples. I was hoping that it would encourage me to learn more; to delve deeper. It didn't.
Date published: 2018-05-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Title is misleading Essentially only covers lower Generally interesting & composite content. Relating similarities and differences between groups inhabiting in various parts of the mid- north american continent was helful.
Date published: 2018-04-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Difficult subject We are just at the beginning and find it very difficult to watch, especially hear all the massacres of the past. We hope it will get better, we really want to know about the tribes and their daily lives if that is possible to really know. We are amazed at the number of tribes mentioned so far
Date published: 2018-03-31
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