Native Americans of the Northwest

Course Number: ATH 231
Transcript Title: Native Americans of the N.W.
Created: September 1, 2012
Updated: June 6, 2017
Total Credits: 4
Lecture Hours: 40
Lecture / Lab Hours: 0
Lab Hours: 0
Satisfies Cultural Literacy requirement: Yes
Satisfies General Education requirement: Yes
Grading options: A-F (default), P-NP, audit
Repeats available for credit: 0


MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Prerequisite/concurrent: WR 121.

Course Description

Surveys the origins, development, and cultural variation of Native peoples in Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Southwest Canada. Explores the historical and contemporary achievements of tribal lifeways within the Northwest region. Prerequisites: MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Prerequisite/concurrent: WR 121. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Define the Northwest culture area in terms of its physical, environmental, and cultural geography.
  2. Distinguish the prehistoric origins of major tribal communities in the Northwest region.
  3. Recognize broad temporal events that link Northwest tribes and inform regional identity.
  4. Analyze past legislative and assimilationist policies that impacted the survival of Native communities.
  5. Identify contemporary Northwest Native cultures and efforts to sustain tribal economic autonomy.

Alignment with Institutional Core Learning Outcomes

In-depth 1. Communicate effectively using appropriate reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. (Communication)


2. Creatively solve problems by using relevant methods of research, personal reflection, reasoning, and evaluation of information. (Critical thinking and Problem-Solving)
3. Extract, interpret, evaluate, communicate, and apply quantitative information and methods to solve problems, evaluate claims, and support decisions in their academic, professional and private lives. (Quantitative Literacy)


4. Appreciate cultural diversity and constructively address issues that arise out of cultural differences in the workplace and community. (Cultural Awareness)


5. Recognize the consequences of human activity upon our social and natural world. (Community and Environmental Responsibility)

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Tests, research papers, discussion, quizzes, homework, group projects, and other forms of assessment all may be used for this course at the instructor's discretion.

Course Activities and Design

Lectures, discussion, group activities, service learning are some of the potential activities that instructors may use at their discretion in this course.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Themes, Concepts, and Issues

  • The use of terms such as Indian and Native American.
  • Anthropological perspectives about the study of indigenous cultures and communities.
  • Differences in perspective about genetic origins and cultural origins.
  • Differing perceptions about cultural origins and prehistoric antecedents.
  • Importance of geography and environment on the development of culture.
  • Concepts of cultural ecology.
  • Differentiate coastal tribal traditions from plateau and intermontaine regions.
  • Description of the major cultural and geographic divisions in the Northwest.
  • Description of the major linguistic phyla spoken within the Northwest.
  • History of early Northwest Native/European encounters.
  • Variation and diversity of tribal communities.
  • In-depth descriptions of Native groups that best represent a specific part of the region.
  • Linguistic diversity in tribes of the Northwest.
  • Definitions of ethnic group versus tribe
  • Prehistoric and historic occupation sites in the Northwest.
  • Differences in sociopolitical and sociolinguistic organization.
  • Examples of anthropological research in the Northwest.
  • Cultural traditions remain a vital part of modern life.
  • Northwest tribes continue to maintain a continuity of cultural heritage.

Competencies and Skills

The successful student should be able to: 

  1. Identify the longevity of tribal cultural traditions in the Northwest.
  2. Distinguish the primary differences between coastal and inland tribes.
  3. Recognize the connections between prehistoric, historic, and contemporary cultural attributes.
  4. Provide examples of how contact with other cultures impacted Northwest tribes.
  5. Connect prehistoric cultural achievements to modern tribal identity.