Respond to the following 5 high-order thinking questions related to the final unit of the course, ‘The Americas.’ You may number your paper 1-5, responding to each directly.
1. In Western schools, children are taught that after Columbus, Europeans “carved out a civilization” starting with small settlements on the edge of a vast wilderness on the East coasts of North and South America. Explain why this way of seeing history is oversimplified at best, and entirely false at worst, based on modern archaeological discoveries. Cite or paraphrase something from the Charles Mann 1491 article in the Atlantic that supports the idea that Native American societies had a greater impact on the land than was previously thought, or at least taught to us in school:
2. Respond to the scene in Apocalypto that starts exactly 1 hour into the movie, and shows the captives being led into the outskirts, and then gradually to the most inner circle, of Mayan civilization, and ends when the main character is able to escape into the Jungle.
What does this scene, and the entire movie leading up to it, suggest about the relationship between ‘Civilized’ aka Taker Native Americans (The Mayans) and non-civilized aka ‘Leaver Native Americans (The unnamed tribe of the protagonist) before the arrival of Europeans? The Mayans are clearly the antagonists in the movie, and their civilization is on the verge of collapse. Knowing this and all you have gathered from this course, does the film have an ‘anti-civ’ message or is it something else?
3. Thought exercise: What Would North and South America look like today had Europeans never conquered the land?
4. How did The Neolithic Revolution occur in The Americas? What were the similarities/differences between the American and Middle Eastern Neolithic Revolutions?
5. Respond, in 1-2 paragraphs with your thoughts about the unit. You may choose to respond to the professor’s thoughts on the ‘Big ideas’ powerpoint attached to the assignment. When thinking about the themes of the class such as Power/domination, Control of Nature, Takers/Leavers, and Collapse of Civilizations, what can we learn that would be useful to us today from uncovering the truth about the way the diverse peoples of the Americas lived in relationship to each other and the land before the arrival of Europeans? How can it inform our understanding of the current ‘Homogecene Age’ and what we can do to save ourselves and the world? What does the subsequent conquest and genocide mean to you with regards to our heritage, culture, and future?How does that impact your view of what it means to be American?
Cite sources from the course and/or outside sources where appropriate.
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