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IDST 205 How Indians Made America: History Before Columbus

Discover America in 1491 Learn about its cities, agriculture, science, and remarkable intellectual achievements.
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291 students enrolled
Published 1/2012
  • 4 Supplemental Resources
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Far from being a pristine wilderness, the environment of pre-Columbian America was highly constructed and, by world standards, rather densely populated. The aim of this course is to bring that invisible historical reality back into focus with units on cities, extensive roadways, agriculture, knowledge systems and remarkable social and intellectual achievements. This course will change the way you think about Indians as well as the way you think about America. It is offered fully online for college credit through the Institute of American Indian Arts, www.iaia.edu.

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Curriculum For This Course
Expand All 4 Lectures Collapse All 4 Lectures 01:05:00
My First Section
4 Lectures 00:00

A survey of the widely accepted myths about life and culture in pre-Columbian America.

Module 1 Myths of the Primitive and Pristine 'New World'.
12 pages

Module 2 Study Guide elaborates some of the triumphs and achievements of Native American agricultural history before the arrival of Europeans.

Module 2 Native American Agricultural Achievements
21 pages

Module 3 makes a quick survey of five urbanized 'hot spots' in the Americas which developed before the European invasion: Central Andes; Meso-America; Chaco; Cahokia; and Amazonia.

Module 3 Urbanism and Civilization
23 pages

The first thing to note about early Native American trails and roads is that they were not just paths in the woods following along animal tracks used mainly for hunting. Neither can they be characterized simply as the routes that nomadic peoples followed during seasonal migrations. Rather they constituted an extensive system of roadways that spanned the Western Hemisphere, making possible short, medium and long distance travel. That is to say, the Pre-Columbian Americas were laced together with a complex system of roads and paths which became the roadways adopted by early European invaders and then settlers and indeed were ultimately transformed into major highways.
Unit 4: Native American Road Systems and Trails
9 pages
About the Instructor
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291 Students
1 Course
Instructor at the Institute of American Indian Arts

After completing his A.M. and PhD at Harvard University in the History of Science, Dr. Chambers worked at the Smithsonian Institution on a Post Doctoral Fellowship. He has published 14 textbooks as well as several dozen articles in such journals as Isis, Technology and Culture, Osiris, Social Studies of Science, and Science Education. He has taught courses at the tertiary level in three countries: Canada (McGill and Concordia), U.S. (SMU and UCSD and Australia (Deakin and the University of Melbourne). Between 2000 and 2010 Dr. Chambers was Director of the Native Eyes Indigenous Studies Program at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe New Mexico.  Check out his informal website.

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