Art History: Indigenous Americas

Art History: Indigenous Americas


About this course

This is part of our full year of Art History. You do not have to take this classes in any specific order, but it is recommended that students take the Intro to Art course before beginning the Art History series. Classes in this series include:
Intro to Art
Art History: Ancient Civilizations
Art History: Middle Ages
Art History: Renaissance Masters

Recommended Ages: This class is ideal for students ages 10-17. Younger academically gifted students will be accepted.

Levels: This course is only offered in one level.

Start Date: November 1, 2022. Course consists of 4 lesson plans. Students have 2 weeks after the last lesson is posted to complete the course. No live classes — view the lessons on YOUR schedule.

Price: $60

Space Available: 

Art History of the Indigenous American Peoples is a focused course in the Next Level Homeschool Art History Series. This course will act as an introductory course into the art and architecture of the first civilizations of the Americas. This course will teach students how to identify the trademarks of the art of early American cultures, interpret those works of art using art historical methods of observation, comparison, and inductive reasoning, and then relate those aspects to their distinct cultural, economic, and political contexts. Even though historians and archaeologists are still continuously uncovering new information about ancient indigenous American history, we can study these works of early art and architecture of these civilizations to help us understand the cultures that laid the foundations for American human history.

This four week class will begin with the first civilizations of the Americas—ancient Mesoamerica. Then we will spend a full week studying the great Maya and Aztec civilizations before moving on to South America and the Central Andes, including the Inca Empire. We will wrap up the class with an exploration into the indigenous tribes and very early civilizations of North America.

This class will serve as a base for students to build future explorations into western, as well as more modern civilizations’, artistic practices and famous works. Students will gain a better understanding for how to discuss art through the perspective of an art historian. It is also recommended (but not required) for any art history courses that students first take Introduction to Art.

This is class is not recommended for most children under 10 (but we trust that you know your child’s abilities better than we do!). There will be only one level for this course.

LESSON PLANS: This is a 4 week class. Students have 2 weeks after the last class is posted to complete all work. Weekly lesson plans are posted on Tuesdays by 5pm Pacific Time. There is no “live” component to this class, which allows students to work at their own pace. This is a great option for busy students who need to work on their own schedule, and students who live all over the world and can’t easily coordinate time zones.

Lesson plans are a combination of power point, graphics, video, and audio. Each slide is fully narrated for students who prefer to hear material read to them. There is no textbook for this course.

DISCUSSION:There are weekly discussions about the lesson plan with the instructor. We also offer an “open talk” forum where students can have fun getting to know their classmates!

ASSIGNMENTS: Most weeks, students get to choose from a list of exciting and fun hands on projects to let them really dig deep into topics in the lesson plan that interest them the most! The goal is to allow students to explore the topic while allowing their creativity to flow. We encourage out of the box thinking! Generally projects can be submitted in any format of the student’s choosing…written, presentation, poster, stop motion animation, minecraft, song, skit…we’ve seen it all!! Check out our facebook page for examples of student projects. All students receive instructor feedback on submitted work.

QUIZZES: Online quizzes are available each week as a tool for students to see how well they understand the material. Format is generally multiple choice, matching, true/false, and fill in the blank.

GRADES: All quizzes, labs, and online assessments automatically receive a grade in the system. You have the option of having your student’s individual projects graded or not (all assignments receive instructor feedback). Report cards are issued at the end of the course- one for ungraded students and one for graded students. These mean nothing other than for your own records or reporting purposes. We do not maintain copies.

TIME: In general, expect 1-1.5 hours to work through the lesson plan each week, and an additional 2-5 hours working on assignments (it really depends what assignment your child chooses to do and how they manage their time).

Week 1: Rise of Indigenous American Civilization

This week will introduce the earliest known civilizations of the Americas. We will examine the art and architecture of peoples like the Olmec and Teotihuacan of Mesoamerica to better understand the cultures that laid the foundations for early life in the Americas.

Week 2: The Maya & The Aztec

We will explore how the grand Mayan civilization, with its hundreds of kingdoms, holds a unique visual identity in their art and architecture. We study the cities of Tikal and Palenque, and study the art and architecture commissioned under rulers such as Pakal the Great. Mayans developed their cities as works of art, and so we will study their artistic culture in order to better understand the historical significance of this once flourishing civilization.

Week 3: South America

In the third week of the class we will focus on South America, primarily the Central Andes, including present day Peru. Prior to European invasion, South America was the home to many highly developed civilizations. We will explore early civilizations, including the Paracas and Nazca cultures, and we will make our way to studying the Inca Empire, which was the dominant civilization at the time of Spanish conquest.

Week 4: North America

In the final week of the class we will focus on the art and artistic cultures of various indigenous tribes around early North America. We will start in the east and will move west as we discuss different periods classified by art historians based on the specific styles of art and architecture that were popular in certain regions at certain times. Finally, we will explore the art, architecture, and artistic cultures of the American Southwest.


Our course begins with the first step for generating great user experiences: understanding what people do, think, say, and feel. In this module, you’ll learn how to keep an open mind while learning.

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