American Frontiers, Homelands, and Empire


Spring 2014 quarter

Taught by

Native American studies
geography, Native American studies

This program repeats the fall quarter content of the fall-winter program American Frontiers, Homelands, and Empire. Students who take the fall quarter program may not sign up for the spring repeat program.

Students will explore the juxtaposed themes of Frontier and Homeland, Empire and Periphery and the Indigenous and Immigrant experience. We will use historical analysis (changes in time) and geographic analysis (changes in place) to critique these themes, and will turn toward cultural analysis for a deeper understanding of race, nation, class and gender. We will take as our starting point a critique of Frederick Jackson Turner’s “Frontier Thesis”—that the frontier is "the meeting point between savagery and civilization"—as a racist rationale for the colonization of Native American homelands. We will consider alternative histories of Anglo-American expansion and settlement in North America, with interaction, change, and persistence as our unifying themes.

We will study how place and connection is nurtured, re-imagined and interpreted, particularly in Indigenous and recent immigrant communities. We will connect between the ongoing process of "Manifest Destiny" in North America and subsequent overseas imperial expansion into Latin America, the Pacific and beyond. The colonial control of domestic homelands and imperial control of foreign homelands are both highlighted in recent patterns of recent immigration. These patterns involve many "immigrants" who are in fact indigenous to the Americas, as well as immigrants from countries once conquered by the U.S. military. The American Empire, it seems, began at home and its effects are coming back home and will be contested again.

We will track the historical progression of the frontier across North America and overseas and the territorial and cultural clashes of immigrant and colonized peoples. We will hear firsthand the life stories of local individuals and communities to understand their narratives of conflict, assimilation, resistance and survival. In particular, we will examine the overlapping experiences of Native Americans and recent immigrants, and Indigenous territories and migrations that transgress or straddle the international border as defined by Homeland Security. This program offers ideal opportunities for students to develop foundational skills in writing, research, and analysis.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

Native American studies, American studies, immigration studies, geography, elementary and secondary education, law and humanities.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


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Online Learning

Hybrid Online Learning < 25% Delivered Online

More information about online learning.

Required Fees

$120 for a field trip to the Quileute and Makah nations.


Date Revision
January 29th, 2014 This program is now offered to Freshmen and Sophomores only.
October 9th, 2013 New opportunity added.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Spring)

Class standing: Freshmen–Sophomore; 50% of the seats are reserved for freshmen

Maximum enrollment: 40


Course Reference Numbers

Fr (16 credits): 30325
So (16 credits): 30326

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