Representing Native America  (Part 1)

Ethnic Studies 114A                                                                               Ross Frank

Winter 2012                                                                                             Office:   SSB 227

TU, TH  11:00 AM—12:20 PM                                                              Office Hours:

WLH 2208                                                                             Wed. 1:00-3:00, Thu. 1:00-2:00

E-mail:                                                          Phone:   534-6646

class materials may be viewed at:

This course provides an introduction to the history and theory of museum representation of American Indians in order to explore its relation to colonialism and decolonization.  In addition to a wide-ranging look at the complex foundations of systems of representing Indians and Indianness, a study of Plains Indian drawings from 1860-1890 will allow the class to create new approaches to designing a museum exhibition.


Course evaluation will be based on a midterm essay and classroom presentation, a written final research project and classroom presentation, in-class discussions throughout the quarter, and some guiding assignments along the way.  Final grade will be based on the following:  25% - attendance and participation during in-class activities; 25% - midterm essay and presentation;  25% research project presentation;  25% - final project report. 


All students must attend all class meetings and read the assigned materials in order to complete this course.  You have a responsibility to create an environment conducive to learning during class meetings and discussion, and to abide by the UCSD Principles of Community.  Attendance and participation in discussions held throughout the quarter will count for part of your class grade.  These in-class discussions cannot be made up.


Assignments are listed in the syllabus for the day that they are due: January 19, February 9, February 15.  The Midterm Examination consists of a written essay (5 pages) and an in-class presentation.  The Final Examination will consist of an individual or team research project, presented in class, and the written component due during the scheduled exam period.


The following required book has been ordered for the course and is available at the Bookstore.  It has also been placed on reserve in the Geisel Library:

Janet Berlo, and Ruth B. Phillips. Native North American Art.  Oxford History of Art.  Oxford University Press, 1998.

Other readings assigned are available at: or in Roger.


The reading(s) that follow each date should be completed before that class meeting.  Please come to class prepared to discuss these assigned readings.

PART I          The Colonial Roots of Representation

WEEK 1      JANUARY 10               Introduction and Course Organization

                     JANUARY 12               The Problem of Art

Catherine King, ed. Views of Difference: Different Views of Art, ed. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999, (Introduction) 7-22.

Janet Catherine Berlo and Ruth B. Phillips. Native North American Art. Oxford History of Art. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press, 1998, (Chapter 1) 1-35.

SUGGESTED READING:  Eric Venbrux, Pamela Sheffield Rosi and Robert L. Welsch, eds. Exploring World Art. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, 2006, (Introduction) 1-37.

                        Susan Vogel.  Art/Artifact New York: Museum for African Art, 1988, 10-17.  Also available on Google Books.

WEEK 2      JANUARY 17               Collecting, Museums, and the Nation State

Shelly Errington. The Death of Authentic Primitive Art and Other Tales of Progress. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1998, 49-136.   (Available online through Roger)

                     JANUARY 19               Museum of the American Indian Roots

Ann McMullen. “Reinventing George G. Heye:  Nationalizing the Museum of the American Indian and its Collections,” in Sleeper-Smith, Susan. Contesting Knowledge : Museums and Indigenous Perspectives. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2009, 65-105.

ASSIGNMENT:  Familiarize yourself with ArtStor
( and its Native American image holdings.  ArtStor must be accessed the first time from campus.  After that you may logon remotely using UCSD’s VPN

PART II         The Decolonizing Project

WEEK 3      JANUARY 24               Disruptive Histories

Angela Cavender Wilson. "American Indian History or Non-Indian Perceptions of American Indian History?" American Indian Quarterly 20:1 (1996): 3-5.

Glen Coulthard, “Place Against Empire: Understanding Indigenous Anti-Colonialism,” Affinities: A Journal of Radical Theory, Culture, and Action, 4:2 (2010): 79-83.

Linda Tuhiwai Smith. Decolonizing Methodologies : Research and Indigenous Peoples. St Martin's Press, 1999, 42-77.

                     JANUARY 26               Alternative Epistemologies

Angela Cavender Wison. "Grandmother to Granddaughter: Generations of Oral History in a Dakota Family." American Indian Quarterly 20:1 (1996): 7-13.

Waziyatawin Angela Wilson. “Decolonizing the 1862 Death Marches”, in Waziyatawin Angela Wilson, ed. In the Footsteps of Our Ancestors : The Dakota Commemorative Marches of the 21st Century. St. Paul, MN: Living Justice Press, 2006, 43-66.


WEEK 4      JANUARY 31               Reading Absences

Audra Simpson. "On Ethnographic Refusal: Indigeneity, 'Voice,' and Colonial Citizenship." Junctures 9 (2007): 67-80.

Laura L. Terrance. "Resisting Colonial Education: Zitkala-Sa and Native Feminist Archival Refusal." International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education 24:5 (2011): 621-626.

                     FEBRUARY 2               Midterm Reports

Eve Tuck. "Suspending Damage: A Letter to Communities." Harvard Educational Review 79:3  (2009): 409-428.


PART III       Problems of the Present

WEEK 5      FEBRUARY 7               Thinking About Tribal Museums

James Clifford.  “Four Northwest Coast Museums:  Travel Reflections,” in Exhibiting Cultures:  The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display.  ed. Ivan Karp, and Steven D. Levine.  Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991, 212-254.

Janine Bowechop and Patricia Pierce Erikson. "Review: Forging Indigenous Methodologies on Cape Flattery: The Makah Museum as a Center of Collaborative Research." American Indian Quarterly 29:1/2 (2005): 263-273.

Exhibit Press Articles folder: _#1_ _ _#2_

                     FEBRUARY 9               NMAI  - Take I

Allison Arieff. "A Different Sort of (P)Reservation:  Some Thoughts of the National Museum of the American Indian`." Museum Anthropology 19:2 (1995): 78-90.

Richard W. West and Amanda J. Cobb. "Interview with W. Richard West, Director, National Museum of the American Indian." American Indian Quarterly 29:3/4 (2005): 517-37

SUGGESTED READING:  Ira Jacknis. "A New Thing? The NMAI in Historical and Institutional Perspective." American Indian Quarterly 30:3/4 (2006): 511-542.

ASSIGNMENT:  Familiarize yourself with the Plains Indian Ledger Art Digital Publishing Project (PILA) @  Register for an account and begin to try out the various capabilities of the web site.

WEEK 6      FEBRUARY 14             NMAI  - Take II

Kuckkahn, Tina. "Celebrating the Indian Way of Life." American Indian Quarterly 29:3/4 (2005): 505-509.

Berry, Susan. "Voices and Objects at the National Museum of the American Indian." The Public Historian 28:2 (2006): 63-68.

Conn, Steven. "Heritage Vs. History at the National Museum of the American Indian." The Public Historian 28:2 (2006): 69-74.

Ruth B. Phillips. "Disrupting Past Paradigms: The National Museum of the American Indian and the First Peoples Hall at the Canadian Museum of Civilization." The Public Historian 28:2 (2006): 75-80.

Amy Lonetree. "Missed Opportunities: Reflections on the NMAI." American Indian Quarterly 30:3/4 (2006): 632-645.

                     FEBRUARY 16             NMAI  - Take III

Jolene Rickard. "Absorbing or Obscuring the Absence of a Critical Space in the Americas for Indigeneity: The Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian." RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics  52 (2007): 85-92.

Gwyneira Issac. "What Are Our Expectations Telling Us? Encounters with the NMAI" American Indian Quarterly 30:3/4 (2006): 574-596.

Sonya Atalay. "No Sense of the Struggle: Creating a Context for Survivance at the NMAI." American Indian Quarterly 30:3/4 (2006): 597-618.

SUGGESTED READING:  Amanda J. Cobb. "The National Museum of the American Indian: Sharing the Gift." American Indian Quarterly 29:3/4 (2005): 361-383.

Carpio, Myla Vicenti. "(Un)Disturbing Exhibitions: Indigenous Historical Memory at the NMAI" American Indian Quarterly 30:3/4 (2006): 619-631.

ASSIGNMENT:  Using the PILA ( research bench, enter personal research notes and public comments, upload images to personal and public galleries, and create a slideshow.

PART IV       What To Do With Plains Indian Ledger Art

WEEK 7      FEBRUARY 21             Narrative and Meaning:  Art and the Plains Indian World View

Raymond J. DeMallie. ‘These Have No Ears:’  Narrative and the Ethnohistorical Method.” Ethnohistory 40:4 (1993): 516-538.

Imre Nagy. “Cheyenne Shields and Their Cosmological Background”. American Indian Art 19:3 (1994): 38-47, 104.

Ledger Art Press Articles folder: _#1_ _ _#2_ _ _#3_ - _#4_

Images for articles #3: _Sheridan Mcknight_ _ _Todd Bordeaux_ _ _Terrance Guardapee_
_Donald Montileaux_ _ _Dolores Purdy Cochoran #1_ _ _Dolores Purdy Cochoran #2_

                     FEBRUARY 23             An Art Historical View

Janet Catherine Berlo, and Ruth B. Phillips. Native North American Art. Oxford History of Art. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press, 1998,
(Chapter 4:  The West) 106-137.
(Chapter 7:  The Twentieth Century) 208-239.

SUGGESTED READING:  Janet Catherine Berlo, and Ruth B. Phillips. Native North American Art. Oxford History of Art. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press, 1998, (Chapter 5:  The East) 71-136.

ASSIGNMENT:  Assemble Final Project Teams and begin to define areas of research.

WEEK 8      FEBRUARY 28             Ledger Art as Literary Narrative

Hertha D. Wong. "Pictographs as Autobiography: Plains Indian Sketchbooks of the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries." American Literary History 1:2 (1989): 295-316.

Denise Low. "Composite Indigenous Genre: Cheyenne Ledger Art as Literature." SAIL 18:2 (2006): 83-104.  NOTE: look at the folder of images referred to in the article: _Black Horse #48-49_ _ _Black Horse #48_
_Black Horse #49
_ _ _Black Horse #113_ _ _Mahtotopa_

                     MARCH 1                    Ledger Art as History

Joyce M. Szabo. "Shields and Lodges, Warriors and Chiefs: Kiowa Drawings as Historical Records." Ethnohistory 41:1 (1993): 1-24.

Candace S. Greene. The Tepee With Battle Pictures. Natural History, 102:10 (1992), 68-76.

William K. Powers  “Drawing on Cultural Memory:  Self and Other in Native American Ledger Art.”  American Anthropology 102.2 (2002): 663-666.

WEEK 9      MARCH 6                    The Tourist and the Captive

Marsha C. Bol. “Defining Lakota Tourist Art, 1880-1915, in Phillips, Ruth B., and Christopher Burghard Steiner. Unpacking Culture : Art and Commodity in Colonial and Postcolonial Worlds. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999, 214-228.   (Available online through Roger)

Candace S. Greene, and Thomas D. Drescher.  “The Tipi With Battle Pictures:  The Kiowa Tradition of Intangible Property Rights.”  The Trademark Report; 84:42 (1994), 418-433.  (images in folder: _#1_ _ _#2_)

                     MARCH 8                    Arts of Survivance

Hertha D. Sweet Wong. "Native American Visual Autobiography: Figuring Place, Subjectivity, and History." The Iowa Review 30:3 (2000): 145-156.

Becca Gercken. "Manifest Meanings: The Selling (Not Telling) of American Indian History and the Case of ‘The Black Horse Ledger." American Indian Quarterly 34:4 (2010): 521-539

PART V     PART V       What To Do With Plains Indian Ledger Art

WEEK 10    MARCH 13                  Class Presentations and Discussions I

                     MARCH 15                  Class Presentations and Discussions II

FINAL PROJECT DUE      Thursday, MARCH 22, 2:30PM