History 115 onlineProfessor Contreras
Discussion Board Essay #1: Colonial Legacies Pt. I: Native Peoples, Conquest & Colonization
Responses to be posted in the Discussion Forum by this name
DUE: your original essay due by Tuesday September 13th by 11:59pm
Response essay due by Thursday Sept. 15th by 11:59pm
Once you’ve read, watched and listened to all of our materials films and readings through the end
of Colonial Legacies Pt I (see syllabus, material we’ve covered in class and study guides I gave
you), write your responses to the following (you’re responsible for them all, but for this writing
assignment, this is what you’re writing:
Pt 1) Analyze one major historical theme from your film(s). You will have seen and taken notes
on all of our very important films on this topic, but for this essay, choose a major issue or central
historical theme from our documentaries (use your notes you took from the study guides I gave
you- those are important for this and midterm), develop it with specific examples, and tell us all of
the ways that issue is important for our understanding of the Americas (in what ways is it a
“colonial legacy”?). Show that you’re making connections with our lectures and readings
(especially since the films we’ve seen in class are excellent but have blind spots and flaws as we’ve
discussed in class).
Films we’ve seen: “We Shall Remain: After the Mayflower” (the most complete and best
made film we’ve seen); “Engineering an Empire: Aztec”; “Guns, Germs & Steel” (good films,
but we will have mentioned several problems with each of these two)
Sample themes: the complexities of Native Societies, how they organized their societies, adapted to
their surroundings and adapted to colonization; the complexities of “Settler Colonialism” in the U.S.
Northeast (today’s New England; “Big Geography” and the factors that contributed to global
inequality and shaped and impacted the conquest/colonization of the Americas;
Spanish/English attitudes towards Native Peoples and consequences; Religion, Religious attitudes
and consequences; Germs, Diseases and consequences; Technological imbalance and
consequences; the complexities of the conquest (multi-causal).
Length of Part I: one to two substantial paragraphs. Go deep, flesh it out with specific
Pt 2) Analysis of ONE of these primary sources (you’ve read them all and we’re discussing them
all, but for this short essay, you’re analyzing one of them in depth). Primary sources are firsthand accounts (primary means “first”), eye-witness accounts, people from the time who are
writing/recording their participation in historical events, or witnessing those historical events.
Examples: letters, journals, speeches, proclamations, declarations.
The primary sources we’ve read and that you can write about are:
1) Excerpts, Journal of Christopher Columbus, 1492. This is the primary source. (See “American
Yawp” ch. 1, Pt III “European Exploration”, film and lecture materials for important historical
2)“The Requerimiento” (“the Requirement”, this is the primary source). See lectures, film *“When
Muslims Ruled in Spain and Chasteen ch. 2 for important historical context.
3) Excerpts, Bartolomé de las Casas, “In Defense of the Indians,” and Juan Ginés de
Sepulveda, 1550 at “Great Debate” in Valladolid (short primary sources), See Chasteen’s
“Countercurrents” pp.50-53 and lecture materials for important historical context.
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4) “The Town Council of Huejotzingo to the King (of Spain)”, 1560 (Nahuatl language primary
source, with names of Indigenous Nobles). See our lectures and Chasteen’s ch. 2 for historical
Your primary source analysis (your close reading of the document):
a) Tell us all about the documents that you’ve chosen: who wrote it? to whom? when? why? what
was its purpose?
b) Provide historical context from our very important lectures, readings (Chasteen ch. 2 especially)
and films. What is going on at the time this primary source is produced? (the “Requirement,” for
example comes out of the “Reconquest” of Spain- see “When Muslims Ruled Spain” and lecture;
“The Town of Council of Huejotzingo to the King” is a generation after the conquest written by the
nobility of a native city-state that sided with the Spanish as they invaded the Aztec…)
c) Analyze the primary source- interrogate it, ask questions about it. Then tell us all of the
ways this source is valuable for our understanding of the Americas. Primary sources are very
important for us, but as students as History, we know we can’t take everything they say at full face
value. Why not? Question the text (source). Analyze the language, the tone, the message-can you
identify assumptions? Biases? Assumptions matter (as we see in the religious documents, for
example). If we only read primary sources like this one, do we get the full picture? If not, what
other kind of primary sources do we need to consult to have a fuller understanding of the topic/era?
Tell us all of the ways this primary source is important for our understanding of the history of the
Length of Part II: One to two substantial paragraphs with specific examples
Total length for both parts of your original essay: three to four substantial paragraphs with
Write your essay in a word processing program so you can always have a copy. Proofread it and
spell-check it. Clip it from your word processing program and paste it onto the Discussion Board (It
does not take attachments; please do not provide links to Google docs- clip and copy your text onto
the Discussion Board so we can all read it easily)
Response to TWO of your classmates’ posts/insights. You are also required to respond to at least
TWO other student’s post (see the due date for that one). You can amplify on a point made, raise a
related point, discuss the issue in relation to other documents, agree or disagree with supporting
evidence (in a constructive way), and/or raise new informed questions that we should all think
about. At least should be on a different film or primary source you didn’t write about in your
original essay. Two well-developed, and well-supported paragraphs should suffice for your
Format/Works cited: Because you’re using documents from our books, just cite the documents
(which document, from which book and what page) and give me a brief ‘works cited’ at the end.
Style: History and Social Sciences Use Chicago Manual of Style. English and others use MLA.
Which one you use is your choice so long as you’re consistent. Here is GC Library’s Citations
GRADING Rubric for Essays
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History 115 online
Your discussion essays will be graded on how well you achieve the following. Please stop by Zoom
Office Hours- I can help.
90-100 A range. Provides a solid argument with deep historical background and strong
connections to readings and films. References readings – quotes or paraphrasing- with citations
(when quoting or paraphrasing). Shows thorough understanding of concepts in question. Shows
deep analysis of topic. Shows complexity and critical thinking.
80-89 B range. Provides a coherent argument with historical background and connections.
References some readings and films and shows a good understanding of the concepts in question.
70-79 C range. Student’s basic effort. Restates topic with little historical context and analysis.
Need to go beyond summary and recitation and make connections to the rest of your readings.
Need to show more complexity.
60-69 D range. Need for improvement. See the points above. Please see me, I can help.
59 and below: F. Needs to read the material and see our films. Please see me, I can help.
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Discussion Board Essay #1: Colonial Legacies Pt. I: Native Peoples, Conquest, & Colonization
The term Wampanoag refers to “easterners” and are the original natives of Massachusetts and
Rhode Island. In the film “We Shall Remain: After the Mayflower”, we saw Massasoit, the chief
leader of the Wampanoag, negotiate with English colonists. At this time, these pale-skinned
foreigners were in desperate need of help from these Native individuals. Just like many
indigenous groups, Massaoit and his tribe have their problems. During this time, the majority of
his people were affected by an unexplained sickness which put them at a disadvantage against
the rival Narragansett. The beginning of the film already explained the complexities of Native
Aside from the fiery spirit of the Wampanoags, the tribe was known for their beadwork, wood
statues and figurines, and woven baskets. The Wampanoag tribe also has its own system such
as their own governmental body, laws, police, and other services that we have in the lowlands.
Though they have their own laws, they are still considered to be US citizens and must obey the
American law. Wampanoags are also known to be excellent hunters and warriors because they
use bows and arrows, as well as heavy wooden clubs. As for fishing, Wampanoag fishermen use
net and bone hooks. From the film, I clearly saw the complexities and unique characteristics of
the Wampanoag tribe.
West Borough. (2021). Wampanoag Tribe. Native American Facts for Kids. pp. 1-5.
Part II. Analysis
Excerpts from The Journal of Christopher Columbus
a.) The Journal of Christopher Columbus was written by Christopher Columbus himself. He wrote
this journal in 1492, when Columbus left Palos de la Frontera. It is said that he wrote the contents
of his journal when he was in First Voyage dating between 1492-93.
b.) From known accounts of Christopher’s first voyage, his relationship with puissant Princes,
King, and Queen of the Spains and the islands of the Seas. Considering that he had close ties
with the Royal family of Spain, it was expected that he wrote about Christianity and how he wanted
to discover more lands and share his faith with the Natives.
c.) I want to ask Columbus about the species of flora and fauna that he discovered on the lands
that he visited. His adventures reminded me of Darwin’s adventures when he was still studying
and discovering new species of animals and plants. Traveling to new lands must have been
fascinating and there were definitely many new species he discovered.