Faculty member in Geography

and Native American Studies,

The Evergreen State College

Lab 1, Room 3012,

2700 Evergreen Parkway, NW

Olympia, WA 98505 USA


Office (360) 867-6153

Faculty home page
Community service
Favorite stuff

Native Geographies covers the historical and contemporary relationships of American Indians to place, including land use and environmental issues, indigenous mapping techniques, sacred sites, territorial nationhood, and legal rights to ceded and sovereign lands. Native Geographies will focus on place and territorial identity in the historical and contemporary life of North American Indians and as a result, provides insight regarding other indigenous (Native) peoples around the world. The course may touch on, but not emphasize, Native themes that are not related to place. The course is in three thematic sections: 1. Historical/Cultural, 2. Political/Legal, and 3. Environment/Mapping.

Native peoples are often viewed as a minor adjunct within a general ethnic studies approach that treats them merely as a racial minority. The unique status of indigenous nations can be better understood by highlighting the centrality of territory in Native identity, and the strong Native connections to place. These connections can be seen in the legal field, in the emphasis on Native territorial sovereignty and a continuing attachment to treaty-ceded lands. The connection can be seen in the cultural field, in the focus on traditional natural resource use and protection of sacred sites. The connection can also be seen in the environmental field, in the tribal stress on resource protection and sustainable planning. All of these connections have been expressed geographically, through indigenous cartographies and modern mapping techniques.

Geography, or the study of place, allows us to break down boundaries between disciplines, and particularly boundaries between human beings and the rest of nature. The geographic approach treats "place" not only as a single "site," but as a "location" (linked to other places through networks) and as partly defined by a "sense of place." The examination of "sense of place," in particular, allows students to use geography to examine Native cultural values, environmental ethics, and continuing attachment to "sacred sites." The course will view Western legal doctrines through geographic lenses, such as the territorial basis of treaties and sovereign tribal entities. The course will place a heavy emphasis on cartography, including precolonial indigenous mapping, Western approaches to mapping indigenous lands, the definition of Native "nationhood" through mapping, and more recent Native "countermapping" to strengthen cultural and territorial autonomy.

The course will include  lectures offering thematic angles that transcend the tribal nations, using various modes of geographical analysis. It will also involve guest lectures,  videos, and class discussions and presentations to compare and contrast our different case studies. You are encouraged to use critical thinking skills in interpreting the readings, videos, and lectures.

Written skills are enhanced through the series of exercises and exam essays. Oral and listening skills are enhanced through in-class discussions, and interactions with Native guest lecturers and field trip guides. Cultural diversity skills will be infused throughout the course, and Native perspectives will be presented to balance dominant perspectves in the larger society. This course uses geography as a "common ground" for strengthening intercultural communication. Students will understand differences and potential meetings points between Native and Western cultural value systems, and understand differences between and among tribes, and and American Indians' ability to define and set their own social, cultural, and spatial boundaries.

LaDuke, Winona . All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life (South End Press, 1999). You can purchase it from the University Bookstore or South End Press.

Waldman, Carl. Atlas of the North American Indian. (Facts on File, Inc., 2000). You can purchase it from the University Bookstore or Amazon.com (paperback).

Warhus, Mark. Another America: Native American Maps and the History of Our Land (St Martins Press, 1997). You can only purchase it from Amazon.com (paperback for $2-5).

Wilkins, David. American Indian Politics and the American Political System. (Rowman & Littlefield, 2002). You can purchase it from the University Bookstore (paperback) or Amazon.com (hardcover).




    If changes are made to the syllabus, the class will be informed via the class e-mail list.

 Week  Class dates  General theme Book readings

Other readings

Exercises and Exams Guest lecture/video (if any)
Week 1 Sept. 3 INTRODUCTION Wilkins Ch. 1 (pp 11-40) LaDuke Intro pp 1-6) New York Times on Lewis & Clark anniversary
Week 2 Sept. 8, 10 INDIGENOUS RESOURCE USE (Precolonial era) LaDuke Ch. 7 (pp 139-162) 1491 Charles Mann

Pick tribal nation Sept. 8; get copy of tribal paper.

Exercise 1 starts Wed., Sept. 8

Week 3 Sept. 13, 15, 17


(Colonial era)

LaDuke Ch. 1-2 (pp 11-45) Our Manoomin, Our Life (booklet)

Ojibwe Waasa Inaabidaa Economy (video)

Fri. Sept. 17 field trip to Skunk Hill (photos)

Week 4 Sept. 20, 22, 24 SACRED SITES Basic Call to Consciousness (part 1) Sacred Landscapes Valerie Taliman

Ex. 1 due Monday, Sept. 20

Exercise 2 starts Mon., Sept. 20

In the Light of Reverence video (3 parts)
Week 5 Sept. 27, 29, Oct. 1 INDIGENOUS CARTOGRAPHIES Warhus Ch. 1 (pp 1-56) Indigenous Geography as Discipline Arrives

Sept. 25-26 field trip to Mole Lake (Crandon mine / wild rice) & Menominee (forest). Field trip PowerPoint

Crandon mine powerpoint

Week 6 Oct. 4, 6, 8


(19th Century)

Wilkins Ch. 2 (pp 41-62)

Ex. 2 due Monday, October 4

Exercise 3 starts Wed., Oct. 6

MIDTERM I Friday, Oct. 8 Study Guide

Mon., Oct. 4 meet at north end of footbridge for discussion of place names (bring Ex. 2). Dress warm!

Review in class, Wed., Oct. 6

Week 7 Oct. 11, 13, 15


(20th Century)

Wilkins Ch. 4 (pp 103-118)
Week 8 Oct. 18, 20, 22 THE RESERVATION AS A PLACE (no powerpoint) Wilkins Ch. 5 (pp 119-156) LaDuke Ch. 4 (pp 74-92)

Ex. 3 due Wed, Oct. 20

Exercise 4 starts Wed., Oct. 20

Fri., Oct. 22 field trip to Prairie Island reservation & nuke
Week 9 Oct. 25, 27, 29 TREATY-CEDED TERRITORIES Wilkins Ch.8 (pp 201-223) GLIFWC pamphlet

Lighting the 7th Fire (video)

Native Traditions: Back to the Future powerpoint

Week 10 Nov. 1, 3, 5 SOVEREIGNTY CONFLICTS Wilkins Ch. 6 (157-184) LaDuke Ch. 6 (pp 114-134) Ex. 4 due Wed., Nov. 3 Review Fri., Nov. 5
Week 11 Nov. 8, 10, 12 ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE LaDuke Ch. 5 (pp 97-111) LaDuke Ch. 3 (pp 48-70)

MIDTERM II, Monday, November 8 Study Guide

Final Project proposal due Wed., Nov. 10

Rick St. Germaine, Nov. 10

Mother Water video

Deadly Power video

Week 12 Nov. 15, 17, 19 SUSTAINABILITY ALLIANCES LaDuke Ch. 9-10 (pp 187-200) NativeEnergy

Removal Reversed powerpoint

Beyond the Impasse video

Week 13 Nov. 22, 24 INDIGENOUS COUNTERMAPPING Warhus Ch 6 (pp 208-229)  
Week 14 Nov. 29, Dec. 1, 3 TRIBAL GIS / GEOGRAPHIC WORK (same powerpoint) GIS & Indigenous (Rundstrom) Final project first draft due by Mon., Nov. 29 (but earlier better!) Countermapping & Native GIS links
Week 15 Dec. 6, 8, 10 FUTURE GEOGRAPHIC DIRECTIONS Wilkins Ch 10 (pp 245-258)

Review for Final Exam

Final Project due Wed., Dec. 8

Final review, Fri., Dec. 10 STUDY GUIDE
Week 16 Dec. 13 FINAL EXAM     Monday, Dec. 13, 1:00-2:50 pm Final in the classroom. Cannot be rescheduled by Professor (only by your Dean)