Introduction to Native American Literature

I.     Course Prefix/Number: EGL 135

       Course Name: Introduction to Native American Literature

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite


III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course introduces fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and drama by Native American writers from eighteenth through twentieth centuries. Content includes social, cultural, historical, political, and literary contexts, as well as terminology and methods of literary analysis and evaluation.

IV.   Learning Objectives

The student will be able to:

  1. Identify important works and writers of the Native American literary traditions;
  2. Explain the importance and influence of the oral tradition to Native American literature;
  3. Analyze the complexities of gender, nationality, identity, colonization, race, and class in the Native American literary tradition;
  4. Delineate and analyze the social, intellectual, cultural, political, and historical influences specific to the development of Native American literary traditions in America;
  5. Discuss and debate multiple interpretations of texts by applying the methods of shared inquiry;
  6. Engage in close readings of texts as support for literary interpretation in classroom discussion and written assignments;
  7. Interpret the formal elements of these works, using appropriate literary terminology;
  8. Distinguish and apply multiple critical approaches to the analysis of literary texts.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

Readings may be organized thematically, regionally or chronologically to both inform students about Native American histories, identities and struggles for justice and survival and represent various artistic and cultural traditions of particular tribes.

Sample Outline by Region:

Weeks 1-5: The Sioux (Great Plains)

Zitkala Sa (Gertrude Bonin), excerpts from American Indian Stories and “Why I Am a Pagan”
Vine Deloria, God is Red: A Native View of Religion
Raymond DeMaille, Sixth Grandfather: Black Elk’s Teachings Given to John G. Neihardt
John Neihardt, Black Elk Speaks

Weeks 6-8: Pueblo and Navajos (Southwest)

Simon Ortiz, From Sand Creek
Paula Gunn Allen, The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions
Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony and “Landscape, History, and the Pueblo Imagination”
Wendy Rose, selected poems

Weeks 9-10: Chickasaw (Southeast)

Linda Hogan, Power or Solar Storms
Amanda Cobb-Greetham, excerpts from Listening to Our Grandmothers’ Stories

Weeks 10-11: Chippewa (Midwest)

Gerald Vizenor, Landfill Meditation: Crossblood Stories
Duane Champagne, excerpts from Contemporary Native American Cultural Issues
Louise Erdrich, The Round House, The Plague of Doves, or LaRose, as well as selectedpoems

Weeks 12-14: Spokane/Coeur d’Alene (Inland Northwest)

Rodney Dey, editor, Stories that Make the World – excerpts by Lawrence Aripa, Mari Watters, and Tom Yellowtail
Sherman Alexie, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, Smoke Signals (film),and War Dances (poetry)

VII.  Methods of Instruction

Primarily lecture and discussion of reading assignments. Guest speakers, films, and audio-visual materials may be used when appropriate.

Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

Class will consist of lecture on and discussion of required reading assignments. Written work will include a midterm and final exam and formal essay assignments totaling 10-15 typed pages. Quizzes, group projects and/or oral assignments may also be given.

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

Novels, articles, essays, short stories, poetry and/or drama by Native American writers. Films, audiovisual materials and/or guest lectures may be used when appropriate.

Suggested anthologies: Nothing But the Truth, Purdy and Ruppert, Prentice - Hall, 2001.
Native American Literature: An Anthology, Lawana Hooper Trout, 1998.
Native American Literature, Gerald Vizenor, Harper, 1995.

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

In addition to exams and written/oral assignments, students will be evaluated on their active and prepared participation in class discussions and other projects.

XI.   Other Course Information

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.