Native Spatial History

Instructor: John R. Legg

Email: Jlegg5@gmu.edu

Office Hours: Tuesdays, 10:30-11:30am or by appointment


Welcome to Native American Spatial History!

This course will explore the relationship between spatial, digital, and Native American history between the colonial period (seventeenth and eighteenth centuries) through the present day. Our class will investigate a rich historical survey of Native American life and culture between this period, touching on subjects like movement, home, belonging, environment, place, space, landscape, removal, resistance, and resurgence. As we explore this history, we will also weave in spatial history into our conversations to understand the theoretical and practical uses of the field to visualize Native American experiences in new ways. By investigating digital history projects that emphasize Native American and Spatial History, you will learn new methods and tools to visualize and present this history to the public.


Learning Goals:

  1. By the end of the semester, you will understand the conceptual and practical debates of Spatial History and Native American history.

  2. You will be able to use web-based programs to visualize space and present material to the public in new and unique ways.

  3. You will also learn how historians write for the general public, as different style and prose is a requirement to making work accessible to non-experts.


Required Texts:


Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States. Boston: Beacon Press, 2015, ISBN: 978-080705783-4, $16.00.

Michael Leroy Oberg, Native America: A History, Second Edition. Malden, MA: Wiley & Sons, 2018, ISBN: 978-1118936112. Digital readings will be provided on Blackboard.

For several weeks, you will read from the free and open-access textbook, American Yawp. Located here.

Also, many of the readings you’ll see on the schedule come from newspapers, magazines, blogs, and other public-facing publications. I intentionally mixed these in with academic text to show you how historians write for the general public.