HIST 325 01

HIST 325 - American West

2021 Fall Syllabus, Section 01, CRN 7718

Course Information

You are responsible for knowing this material, so please read carefully. Any changes will be announced in a Blackboard Announcement. You will be responsible for any changes. Your continued enrollment in this course is your implicit agreement to abide by the requirements of this class.

Times and Location

TR 9:30am-10:45am in UND Gamble Hall, Rm 145

Instructor Information

Cynthia Prescott

About the Professor

Dr. Prescott has taught in the History department since 2007. Her research focuses on women, gender, and memory in the American West.

Course Description

Explores the lives of diverse peoples living in western North America from the 16th century to the present. Topics include migrations, intercultural interactions, environmental change, and the West in popular culture.

The American West typically calls to mind images of cowboys fighting Indians, or perhaps covered wagons creaking across the Plains.  Yet recent scholarship in the field of U.S. Western history has revealed that Western history is far more complex than these mythical images suggest, encompassing imperial rivalries, cultural diversity and domination, environmental issues, women’s roles, and much more.  Together we will explore how frontier farms and panning for gold gave way to agribusiness and Hollywood blockbusters, and assess the power of Western myths distort the region’s past.

Learning Outcomes

This course will guide you to:

  • Appreciate the ethnic diversity of the American West
  • Compare settlement patterns and intercultural interactions within different sub-regions of the West
  • Assess environmental change throughout the West
  • Assess the place of the Wild West in American popular memory

This course is an Essential Studies Special Emphasis course in Advanced Communication.  You will demonstrate your understanding of course content through both written and oral communication.  Through writing, revising, and speaking, you will also develop these core skills:

  • Critical reading
  • Independent research
  • Persuasive writing
  • Public speaking

Course Materials

All readings and course materials will be made available via Blackboard.

Technical Requirements/Assistance

You will use Microsoft Word to complete assignments (files created using Pages in Apple can be saved as a Word file before submitting). Students are expected to use their official UND email in the course. Visit the Office 365 Email webpage for information on your UND email and how to download/install a free version of Microsoft Office. For technical assistance, please contact UND Technical Support at 701.777.2222. Visit the University Information Technologies (UIT) website for their hours, help documents and other resources.

Minimum Technical Skills Needed

In order to succeed in this course, at a minimum, you should be able to:

  • Navigate in and use basic Blackboard functions
  • Download and open electronic documents
  • Create, save, and upload/attach electronic documents
  • Complete online research
  • Send, receive, and manage email

Course Logistics

Access and Log in Information

This course was developed and will be facilitated utilizing Blackboard. To get started with the course, please go to: http://blackboard.UND.edu and log in with your NDUS.Identifier, Username and Password. If you do not know your NDUS Identifier or have forgotten your password, please visit Your NDUS Account page on the UIT website.

Course Overview

The course content is organized by week for this semester. Each week contains a purpose, learning outcomes, and a variety of links to articles, video/audio files, and other instructional resources selected to enhance the learning experience and support the various topics. Discussions, wikis, surveys, quizzes, tests, formal and informal writing assignments will be used to assess your comprehension and application of those materials.

What Should Students Do First?

Prior to the start of the first week you should have reviewed the syllabus.

How Students Should Proceed Each Week for Class Activities

On the left side course menu in Blackboard there is a “Lessons” tab. Inside Lessons you will find all the required readings, videos, and assignments/activities for the week.


Many services are available to UND students such as writing assistance from the UND Writing Center, free online tutoring from Smarthinking, and more. Visit the Student Resources page for more information. Students also have access to the UND Student Resource Site via Blackboard. It is recommended that you become familiar with the tools and tutorials within the site to better equip you in navigating the course.

Course Requirements/Expectations

  1. The student will review the syllabus and course schedule posted in Blackboard.
  2. The student will access and follow all course instructions found in the weekly area of the Blackboard course.
  3. The student will participate in any lecture and discussion sessions on campus or online as provided and as part of this course.
  4. The student will complete and submit assignments, exams, quizzes, etc. by the dated noted and in the manner described in Blackboard and on the course schedule. We will use US Central Time for due dates and times.
  5. The student will participate fully and in a timely manner to get the benefit of learning from instructor and/or peers.



Announcements will be posted in Blackboard on a regular basis. Be sure to check the class announcements regularly as they will contain important information about class assignments and other class matters.


You are encouraged to raise your questions about the course in class. If you need to contact me directly outside of class time, check the Faculty tab in Blackboard or the syllabus for my contact information. I will respond back to you within 48 hours during the week or weekend.

Course Etiquette

When participating in class (online or in person) it is important to interact with your peers in an appropriate manner. Always use professional language (no netspeak) in your postings and emails. Please be respectful of your classmates at all times even if you disagree with their ideas.


Participation (20%)

Class Participation100

Class discussions and small-group activities will enhance your understanding of all course content.

ICWAs (20%)

In-Class Writing Assignments100

You will regularly respond in writing to informal prompts that assess your understanding of the assigned readings and other course content and will help you to integrate diverse content.

Project (38%)

Native Peoples Project70

You will research and write a wiki focused on an assigned Indigenous group, and an essay assessing their importance to Western history.

Overland Trail Project55

You will read an overland trail diary and compare it to other materials to assess the typicality of your diarist's experiences.

Ethnic Groups Project45

You will research a particular ethnic group and assess their experiences in the West.

Myth and Memory Project20

You will write and deliver a persuasive speech from the perspective of a historical actor.

Group Project (18%)

Museum Project90

Working with your classmates, you will integrate all course material to design a museum of Western history.

Paper (4%)

Course Reflection Essay20

You will reflect on what you have learned and the skills you honed through this course.

Schedule of Topics and Assignments

Day: Date: Reading(s): Agenda/Topic: Due:
Tue 8/24 Introduction
Thu 8/26 Oxford History of the American West, pp. 9-43
Horse Capture, "Myth & Reality"
Defining the West
Tue 8/31 Hamalainen, "Rise & Fall of Plains Indian Horse Cultures" Plains Horse Cultures
Thu 9/2 Research Native Tribe online Prior Histories Native Tribe Wiki
Tue 9/7 Research Native Tribe--secondary sources Empires Secondary source analysis worksheet
Revise Native Tribe wiki to include secondary sources
Thu 9/9 Native Tribe wikis
NO CLASS -- view "Ikwe" & complete viewing guide
Fur Trade Native Tribe wiki peer reviews
NO CLASS -- view "Ikwe" & complete viewing guide
Tue 9/14 Missions Native Peoples Essay rough draft
Thu 9/16 Prescott, "Missions in Spanish & Mexican California" Mexican North
Tue 9/21 Mexican North Native Peoples Essay final draft
Thu 9/23 West, "Family Life on the Trail West" Overland Trails
Tue 9/28 Assigned overland trail diary Overland Trails Overland Trail Diary Wiki
Thu 9/30 Overland Trails Overland Trail Essay rough draft
Tue 10/5 Farming Frontiers Overland Trail Essay final draft
Thu 10/7 Benton-Cohen, "Common Purposes, Worlds Apart" Farming Frontiers
Tue 10/12 Johnson, "'My Own Private Life'" Mining Frontiers
Thu 10/14 Regan, "Irish Orphan Abduction"
Japanese Exclusion gamebook pp. 18-33
Mining Frontiers
Tue 10/19 Japanese Exclusion gamebook pp. 1-17, 33-45, 45-53
Japanese Exclusion role sheet
Asian Exclusion Japanese Exclusion character worksheet
Thu 10/21 Japanese Exclusion Texts indicated in your role sheet Asian Exclusion Japanese Exclusion game speech
Tue 10/26 Asian Exclusion
Thu 10/28 NO CLASS--watch video on your own time
View _Cadillac Desert_
Environmental Change _Cadillac Desert_ viewing guide
Ethnic Group Wiki due 10/31
Tue 11/2 Spence, "Dispossessing the Wilderness" Tourism
Thu 11/4 Britz, "Deadwood's Days of '76" Tourism
Tue 11/9 Springhall, "Have Gun, Will Travel"
Monuments game role sheet
Begin reading Monuments gamebook pp. 1-30
Mythic West Monuments game Role Sheet Worksheet
Thu 11/11 NO CLASS--VETERAN'S DAY Mythic West
Tue 11/16 Monuments gamebook pp. 1-30
Monuments texts indicated in role sheet (found in gamebook, pp. 31-69)
Memory Monuments game speech
Thu 11/18 Prepare for game play Memory
Tue 11/23 Sides, "Straight into Compton" Urbanization
Tue 11/30 Aron, "From Romance to Convergence"
Cole, "I Make Exhibits"
Public History
Thu 12/2 Research museum objects Public History
Tue 12/7 Public History Museum Labels
Thu 12/9 Monument Gamebook
Sides, "Straight into Compton"
Conclusions Donor Letter
Tue 12/14 Museum Project Portfolio
Course Reflection
Thu 12/16 No Class

Course Policies

Assignment Policy

Due dates for each assignment or activity will be posted in Blackboard.

Late Work

All assignments must be submitted by the due dates posted in the course. The acceptance of late assignments is at the discretion of the instructor, provided that you contact the instructor before the due date and ask for an extension. All requirements for this course must be completed during the course dates.

Face Coverings Required

In this course, students are expected to wear face coverings while in the classroom. Students electing not to comply with these expectations will not be permitted to enter the room. UND strongly encourages all members of the University community, including students, to get vaccinated and model positive behavior both on- and off-campus in order to foster a healthy and safe learning environment for all students. Individuals who would like to discuss disability accommodations regarding face coverings should contact the Disability Services for Students (DSS) office at 701-777-2664 or UND.dss@UND.edu. Individuals who are unable to wear a face covering due to a sincerely held religious belief should contact the UND Equal Opportunity and Title IX Office at 701.777.4171 or UND.affirmativeactionoffice@UND.edu.

Instructor Responsibilities and Feedback

  • The instructor will provide feedback on all assignments and group activities within one week.
  • The instructor will be available during appointed Office Hours to answer questions, provide feedback, and offer advice.

Class Participation

Students are required to participate in all class activities both during class time and online. Students also are required to login regularly to the online class site. 


It is expected that students will complete all requirements for a course during the time frame of the course. For reasons beyond a student’s control, and upon request by the student or on behalf of the student, an incomplete grade may be assigned by the instructor when there is reasonable certainty the student will successfully complete the course without retaking it. The mark “I,” Incomplete, will be assigned only to the student who has been in attendance and has done satisfactory work up to a time within four weeks of the close of the semester, including the examination period, and whose work is incomplete for reasons satisfactory to his or her instructor. More information regarding UND’s Incomplete policy can be found on The Grading System webpage.

Copyright Notice

Course content copyright Cynthia Prescott.


Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a serious matter, and any deviations from appropriate behavior will be dealt with strongly. At the discretion of the professor, situations of concern may be dealt with as a scholastic matter or a disciplinary matter.

As a scholastic matter, the professor has the discretion to determine appropriate penalties to the student’s workload or grade, but the situation may be resolved without involving many individuals. An alternative is to treat the situation as a disciplinary matter, which can result in suspension from the University, or have lesser penalties. Be aware that I view this as a very serious matter, and will have little tolerance of or sympathy for questionable practices. A student who attempts to obtain credit for work that is not their own (whether that be on a paper, quiz, homework assignment, exam, etc.) will likely receive a failing grade for that item of work, and at the professor’s discretion, may also receive a failing grade in the course. For more information read the Code of Student Life.

Access & Opportunity, Disability Support and Medical Services

If you have emergency medical information to share with me, or if you need accommodations in this course because of a disability, please visit with me as soon as possible. My office hours are at the top of this syllabus. If you plan to request disability accommodations, you are expected to register with the Disability Support Services (DSS) office online, (180 McCannel Hall, 701.777.3425).

If you have a temporary medical condition such as a broken arm or recovering after surgery, you may be able to arrange for courtesy services. In most cases, it is expected that you will make your own arrangements for these services. Examples of courtesy services include access to a test scribe if the student has a broken hand; lift equipped van transportation when the student has a broken leg or temporary accessible parking for a student using crutches for a short period. If you are unable to make your own arrangements, please contact DSS (777-3425). Unlike services and/or accommodations provided to eligible students with disabilities, the University is NOT obligated to provide courtesy services.

Resolution of Problems

Should a problem occur, you should speak to your instructor first. If the problem is not resolved, meet with insert name of conflict mediator or ombudsperson if available in your department, otherwise delete this sentence. If the problem continues to be unresolved, go to the department chair, and next to the college Dean. Should the problem persist, you have the right to go to the Provost next, and then to the President.

Notice of Nondiscrimination

It is the policy of the University of North Dakota that no person shall be discriminated against because of race, religion, age, color, gender, disability, national origin, creed, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, marital status, veteran’s status, or political belief or affiliation and the equal opportunity and access to facilities shall be available to all. Concerns regarding Title IX, Title VI, Title VII, ADA, and Section 504 may be addressed to: Donna Smith, Director of Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action and Title IX Coordinator, 401 Twamley Hall, 701.777.4171, UND.affirmativeactionoffice@UND.edu or the Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Dept. of Education, 500 West Madison, Suite 1475, Chicago, IL 60611 or any other federal agency.

Reporting of Sexual Violence

If you or a friend has experienced sexual violence, such as sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence or stalking, or sex-based harassment, please contact UND’s Title IX Coordinator, Donna Smith, for assistance: 701.777.4171; donna.smith@UND.edu; or visit the Title IX webpage.

Faculty Reporting Obligations Regarding Sexual Violence

It is important for students to understand that faculty are required to share with UND’s Title IX Coordinator any incidents of sexual violence they become aware of, even if those incidents occurred in the past or are disclosed as part of a class assignment. This does not mean an investigation will occur if the student does not want that, but it does allow UND to provide resources to help the student continue to be successful at UND. If you have been the victim of sexual violence, you can find information about confidential support services on the Title IX webpage.

UND Cares Program

The UND Cares program seeks to educate faculty, staff and students on how to recognize warning signs that indicate a student is in distress.

How to Seek Help When in Distress

We know that while college is a wonderful time for most students, some students may struggle. You may experience students in distress on campus, in your classroom, in your home, and within residence halls. Distressed students may initially seek assistance from faculty, staff members, their parents, and other students. In addition to the support we can provide to each other, there are also professional support services available to students through the Dean of Students and University Counseling Center. Both staffs are available to consult with you about getting help or providing a friend with the help that he or she may need. For more additional information, please visit the UND Cares program Webpage.

How to Recognize When a Student is in Distress

The term “distressed” can mean any of the following:

  • Student has significant changes in eating, sleeping, grooming, spending, or other daily activities.
  • Student has cut off or minimized contact with family or friends.
  • Student has significant changes in performance or involvement in academics, sports, extracurricular, or social activities.
  • Student describes problems (missing class, not remembering, destructive behavior) that result from experiences with drinking or drugs.
  • Student is acting withdrawn, volatile, tearful, etc.
  • Student is acting out of character or differently than usual.
  • Student is talking explicitly about hopelessness or suicide.
  • Student has difficulty concentrating or difficulty carrying on normal conversation.
  • Student has excessive dependence on others for company or support.
  • Student reports feeling out of control of one’s emotions, thoughts, or behaviors.

UND Cares about Your Success

Important information is available to you through Starfish, which is an online system used to help students be successful. When an instructor observes student behaviors or concerns that may impede academic success, the instructor may raise a flag that notifies the student of the concern and/or refer the student to their academic advisor or UND resource. Please pay attention to these emails and take the recommended actions. They are sent to help you be successful!

Starfish also allows you to (1) schedule appointments with various offices and individuals across campus, (2) request help on a variety of topics, and (3) search and locate information on offices and services at UND.

You can log into Starfish by clicking on Logins on the UND homepage and then selecting Starfish. A link to Starfish is also available in Blackboard once you have signed in.