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Unit information: Centuries of Dishonour: American Indian History from Removal to Termination in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

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Unit name Centuries of Dishonour: American Indian History from Removal to Termination
Unit code HIST20109
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Sam Hitchmough
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts


The enormous and rapid westward expansion of the United States in the 1800s had significant impacts on indigenous communities: forced removal, mass displacement, declarations of war, frequent massacres, widespread racism and rigid stereotyping, and the imposition of ‘civilisation programmes’. The repercussions reached far into the Twentieth Century.

This unit covers the period from 1830 to the 1950s, and explores twin and intersecting histories: shifting government policies toward Indian nations who were consistently considered obstacles in the way of national progress, alongside an analysis of how American Indian communities resisted and/or compromised when confronted with losing land and cultural identity. The unit covers topics including: President Jackson's Removal Act, the Long Walk of the Navajos, the Sand Creek Massacre, the defeat of Custer at Little Big Horn, Geronimo, the controversial argument that American Indian experiences should be referred to as an American Holocaust, spiritual resistance through the Ghost Dance, the massacre at Wounded Knee, government boarding schools, the Society of American Indians, the New Deal and the post-war Termination era.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

1. demonstrate an understanding of the centrality and significance of Indian-white relations during westward expansion and the critical stages of national growth in the nineteenth century

2. discuss and evaluate key historical issues, events and processes, especially westward expansion, Manifest Destiny, Removal, Americanisation, and their effects on Native America

3. reflect critically and sensitively upon a variety of theoretical and ideological perspectives related to an understanding of changing Indian-white race relations in the US, including an assessment of Americanisation and concepts of national identity, cultural imperialism and ethnic cleansing

4. interpret primary sources and select pertinent evidence in order to illustrate specific and more general historical points

5. Present their research in written forms and styles appropriate to the discipline and to level I/5

Teaching details


1 x two-hour interactive lecture

1 x one-hour workshop

Assessment Details

One 3000-word summative essay (50%) [ILOs 1-5] and one two-hour exam (50%) [ILOs 1-5]

Reading and References

Gary Clayton Anderson, Ethnic Cleansing and the Indian (2014)

Ward Churchill, A Little Matter of Genocide (2001)

Daniel Cobb, Native Activism in Cold War America (2008)

Carroll Kakel, The American West and the Nazi East (2011)

Bradley Shreve, Red Power Rising (2011)