First Contact: Indigenous Peoples and Europeans

First Contact: Indigenous Peoples and Europeans

Intellectual Inquiry 110

First Contact: Indigenous Peoples and Europeans

Marwood Larson-Harris

Office: West 318Office Hours: M/W/F: 12:00–1:00 & Tu 1:00–2:00

Phone: 375-2411 and by appointment


Required Texts

Wade Davis, The Wayfinders

Kent Nerburn, Neither Wolf Nor Dog

Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein, They Say, I Say

Diana Hacker, A Writer’s Reference—RC Edition

Other readings will be posted on Inquire as noted in the schedule.

Course Description

For several thousand years before European explorers and colonists spread out around the globe, a tremendous diversity of indigenous cultures flourished. This course examines how these cultures changed under the impact of European civilization, a process that has lasted for several centuries. Every aspect of the lives of natives was disrupted—their subsistence livelihood, their political organizations, their religious practices, and their connections to specific places—and the impact of these changes is still visible today. To appreciate this complex dynamic, we will explore how native societies adapted through assimilation, accommodation, and resistance. Our course will answer three related questions: how are indigenous worldviews and practices different from our own, how were they affected by contact, and what is the legacy of this impact today?

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course you will be able to:

  • evaluate your own worldview and how this shapes your interpretations of other cultures;
  • identify key aspects of indigenous life before First Contact, explain how indigenous life changed, and why;
  • critically analyze scholarly sources and evaluate them for cultural bias;
  • make informed evaluations of representations of Native Americans;
  • become more aware of how you learn, of the specific forms of college inquiry, and how best to communicate those forms of inquiry with increasing complexity;
  • use writing techniques (drafting, revising, and editing) to compose and develop essays with that have clear theses claims, well-structured argumentation, aptly chosen supporting examples,effective organization, and a minimum of sentence-level errors clear thesis claims;
  • read, discuss, and write about college-level academic texts and ideas;
  • use library and other resources to find, evaluate, and synthesize information from multiple sources and use this information in support of a research question.

All sections of INQ 110 share a common set of learning outcomes related to the skills students will develop in this course. These outcomes can be found at In this section of INQ 110, these common outcomes will be developed in specific assignments.

Grades and Assignments

Jottings (1-2 pages each): summaries and interpretations of articles:10%

Whaling paper (4–5 pages): you will argue whether or not indigenous tribes should be

allowed to hunt whales:25%

Research paper on an indigenous group (7–8 pages): you will explain how the group has been

affected by European contact and argue whether they will survive in the near future:30%

Community anthropology (4 pages): you will analyze the community you grew up in as if you were

anoutsider anthropologist:20%

Uncontacted tribes essay (4 pages): you will investigate one uncontacted tribe and then argue

whetherit should be contacted or not:15%

The grading scale is as follows: A (94–100), A- (90–93), B+ (88–89), B (84–87), B- (80–3), etc. An F is 59 or below. Late papers will be lowered one notch for every class day they are late (a B becomes a B-).

Generally, college writing is assessed using the following guidelines:

A—this work is excellent in all aspects, error free, clearly argued, gracefully written, and goes beyond merely fulfilling the assignment through creative thought, original insight, and the identification of diverse connections;

B—an above-average paper that does a nearly error-free job of completing the assignment in a competent way; it is well organized and clearly written and argued;

C—an average paper: errors detract from this work, and it is unevenly written and organized;

D—contains many errors and doesn’t fully grasp the assignment;

F—fails in every aspect to adequately respond to the assignment.

How to Succeed in this Course: Participate!

Participation is essential to the life of this class. Participation means more than simply showing up for class! You will need to arrive with an open and active mind. You will need to show up having read the material carefully, taken notes on it, and be ready to voice your opinion. To participate you should above all come to class with your own reactions to and opinions about our reading assignments. Think about how the texts connect with things in our own world. To do these things you will need a few hours to prepare for each class period. The class can only thrive with your individual help.

Honest class discussion is important for a course like this: everyone should feel comfortable voicing his or her opinions. We can disagree with each other without showing disrespect. Avoid sarcasm during class discussions. Remarks that indicate a lack of respect toward individuals or groups on the basis of their gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, nationality, religion, beliefs, physical appearance etc., will not be tolerated.


One of the primary purposes of this course is to develop your writing. We will focus on the writing process as a tool for criticalthinking. We will write in a variety of ways—from informal jottings, which will help you brainstorm reactions to readings and contribute to class discussions, to more deliberate essays, which we will rethink and revise together in class and in one-on-one conversations.


Nearly every week you will be writing at least one jotting. Jottings are for you to reflect on a reading and then focus your thoughtsabout it; they are sometimes in response to a specific question (given on the schedule) but sometimes are an open-ended opportunity for you to identify what most grabs you about a text. These 1-2 page papers should be printed in a 12-pt font, a full page long (unless otherwise specified), double spaced, with only your name and class titleat the top on one line. They must also contain at least one short quotation (but not lengthy block quotations). Jottings are graded with a check; together they are 10% of your course grade.

During the first few weeks of class these jottings may be written responses to reading questions; in this case they will usually be longer than one page.

What if I need help on my writing?

The Writing Center @ Roanoke College islocated in the Goode-Pasfield Center for Learning and Teaching in Fintel Library. Student writers working in any field of study at any level of competence meet with trained peer writing tutors in informal, one-on-one sessions. Writers may meet with tutors at any point in the writing process, from brainstorming to drafting to editing. The Writing Center is open Sunday through Thursday from 4 to 9 pm starting Sunday, September 6th. Simply stop in or schedule an appointment ahead of time by going to MyRC: Academics and looking for the Writing Center Schedule link. Questions? Email the or call 375-4949. The Writing Center also sponsors writing workshops, grammar crammers, and creative writing playshops. The Fall 2013 schedule will be posted at .

Subject Tutoring, located in the Goode-Pasfield Center for Learning and Teaching in Fintel Library, is available in various academic subjects such as Business & Economics, Foreign Languages, Lab Sciences, Math, CPSC, Statistics, and Social Sciences. All subject tutors are recommended by faculty members and receive training before working with students. Subject Tutoring is open Sunday through Thursday from 4 p.m. – 9 p.m.starting September 12th. Hours vary by subject, so be sure to visit our homepage for a complete list of tutorial hours: Questions? Call us at 375-4949.


You may miss TWOclasses: any absences beyond this will lower your course grade by one notch. In other words, 3 absences will lower your final grade by one notch (a B+ becomes a B), and 4 absences will lower your final grade one full letter (a B becomes a C).

6 or more absences will result in a failing grade (F) for the course. Please come see me if you have a difficulty.

There are no excused absences. (If you are sick or must miss school for an athletic match, make sure you have no other absences.) There will be no make-up quizzes. Make-up exams will be given for serious, legitimate reasons.

If you miss class it is essential that you get the notes from another student.

Religious Holidays

Students who miss a class for a religious holiday may make up the class without penalty, but you must write me a note before that date. I will arrange the make-up work with you.

Email Policy

Be sure and email me if you have specific questions about the assignments. Your emails should begin with a formal greeting (“Dr. Harris”), use complete sentences, and end with your name. Think of emails to your professors as business memos that you might write on a job.

Electronic Devices and Laptops

Please turn off your cell phone when you enter the classroom. You may not use any electronic device during class, including a laptop. The use of any electronic device during an exam is strictly prohibited.

Special Accommodations

If you are on record with the College’s Special Services as having special academic or physical needs requiring accommodations, please meet with me during my regular office hours or schedule an appointment as soon as possible. We need to discuss your accommodations before they can be implemented. Also, please note that arrangements for extended time on exams and testing in a semi-private setting must be made at least one week before every exam.

If you believe you are eligible for accommodations but have not yet formally contacted Special Services, please call 375-2248 or drop by the Center for Learning & Teaching in Fintel Library.

The Office of Special Servicesprovides reasonable accommodations to students with identified disabilities. Although Roanoke College does not have special programs for students with disabilities, reasonable accommodations are provided based on the diagnosed disability and the recommendations of the professional evaluator. In order to be considered for special services, students must identify themselves to the Office of Special Services. Students are required to provide specific current documentation of their disability. Reasonable accommodations may include but are not limited to the following: extended time for tests and examinations, testing in a semi-private testing area, proctoring of examinations, use of interpreters, assistive technology, audio recording of lectures, and/or student note-takers. For additional information please contact Rick Robers, Coordinator of Disability Support Services, at 375-2247 or email .

Academic Integrity

As members of a learning community, we enjoy important intellectual freedoms and are answerable to equally important academic responsibilities. Doing our own work and properly acknowledging the work of others are bedrock values in a community of scholars. When you arrived at Roanoke College you pledged to uphold these values and to abide by the practices and policies described in the brochure “Academic Integrity at Roanoke College.” It is your responsibility to read this brochure carefully and to understand it well.

In a course such as this one, which involves independent scholarship and writing, it is especially important to cite and discuss your sources as a part of our intellectual exchange. And, as a matter of honesty, it is imperative that you understand what plagiarism is and avoid even unintended violations. Review carefully the section on plagiarism in the academic integrity brochure. If you have any questions, speak with me or bring up your questions in class.

Inquire Postings

From time to time we will be reading articles and book chapters that I have posted on Inquire. I will explain how to access these during the first week. You will need to think of these as an alternative textbook: print each file well in advance of class so you are certain your computer and printer are working properly. Read these selections carefully, take notes on them, and bring them to class.

If you fail to bring the reading for the day to class (either the Inquire file or one of the textbooks) I will count this as a half-absence.

Reading Questions and “Close” and “Active” Reading

For most of the readings for the first few weeks I have posted “Reading Questions.” You should use these to help you do “close” and “active” readings of the assigned texts.

Close reading means reading carefully! Here carefully implies a close attention to how the author phrases his or her arguments: what words have been chosen to shape the message? Close readings also includes grasping the organization of each text: how does it begin, how is the subject introduced, and what is the order of ideas? To do close readings you should also listen closely to the tone of the language: can you hear subtle attitudes and emotions just below the surface? If so, how are these conveyed?

Active reading means asking questions—usually, your own questions—as you read. In other words, you have to read actively as well as carefully: think first of all if a particular text’s argument makes sense. Could you this argument if you were called on in class? Can you think of counterarguments? What evidence has been offered by the author? What additional ideas does the reading suggest to you? Can you relate it to anything else in your experience?

I will often ask you to write out answers to these questions: these will be graded as jottings. To do so you should type short responses and then find key quotes to support your answers.

Don’t just rely on the questions I’ve posted on the syllabus. You should above all brain storm your own questions, and bring these to class—and ask them.

Finally, active reading means taking notes to summarize and outline the main points of the reading. This should be done on a separate piece of paper. This practice will guarantee that you have fully understood the text and can engage in class discussion. Do not simply highlight key passages—this is still a passive response to the reading.

Failure to bring the textbook (or Inquire reading) to class will result in a half-absence.

All papers must be printed (not hand-written) and stapled.

Papers handed in with more than 3 grammatical errors per page will be returned and considered late until corrected.


Readings and Jottings listed for a particular day are due on that day.

The syllabus may be modified as the course progresses.

Aug 27−29

W: Introduction to the class: Why study the Humanities?

F: Read: Dale Cannon—“Fusing Empathy and Objectivity” (Inquire)

Jotting Due: summarize the two definitions of “objectivity” discussed in the text.

Assignment: What are you most passionate about? (3 pgs.—due on Monday)

Sept 1−5

M:Wade Davis—The Wayfinders Ch. 1Due: passion paper

Discussion questions: bring in printed answers (same for subsequent weeks).

  1. What happens when the world loses a language? (pgs. 3–5) Do you speak another language? How is the culture of that language different from that of the U.S.?
  2. How did early anthropologists view nonwestern cultures? (pgs. 10–15)
  3. How does Davis define culture? (pgs. 32–3)

W: Davis Ch. 2 (pgs. 35–42 and 52–69)

  1. What does the discussion of Polynesian navigational expertise on pages 54–60 tell us about culture?
  2. Make a comparison chart of ancient America and Europe based on what Davis says on pgs. 64–67.

F: Writing Garage: They Say, I Say – Intro and Ch 1.

First essay assigned: should indigenous peoples be allowed to hunt whales? (4–5 pages)

Sept 8−12

M:Writing Garage: They Say, I Say Chapters 2 and 3 —and discusssummary

W:Scott Couchman visit—International Education

Writing Garage: thesis statements;Due:summary of the argument of one whaling article

discuss whale essay sources

Thursday—Sept 11—Pickle Lounge (Colket Center)—4:15-5:15 extra credit=1 jotting

—“The Practical Value of the Humanities”—

F:Library visit with Piper Cumbo (meet in class first)

Sept 15−19

M: Class debate on indigenous whaling; discuss assignments from other classes Due: whaling paper

W: Davis Ch. 4 (pgs. 116–140 and bottom of 147–61);

Jotting: summarize in your own words what Davis says about what Royal Dutch Shell’s

development proposals “imply about our culture” (pgs. 118–9).

F: Davis Ch. 5 (pgs. 162–79, 192–202, and 216–18)

Sept 23-Olin Theatre 7:30pm: "The Revelations of the Hubble Space Telescope"

Jennifer J. Wiseman—Senior Project Scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope

Sept 24-Pickle-1pm: Wisemandescribes the AAASDialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion.

Sept 22−26

M:Wade Davis video “Light at the Edge of the World” (watch in class);