Introduction to American Studies


Introduction to American Studies

Pacific Northwest

  1. Who were the Alaskan natives? Explain some of their ways of life that were connected to the land. Who were the first non-natives to make it to Alaska? What did they do there?

The Alaskan natives refer to the indigenous people living in Alaska who extend to include Athabascans, Yuit, Inupiat, Haida Tlingit and the Aleuts. It will be documented that these groupings are in fact based on the broad linguistic and cultural similarities of the people subsisting contiguously in the diverse regions of Alaska. Studies extend to reveal that the Alaskan natives do not represent tribal or political units nor do they refer to the units which the native populace has traditionally used to describe them. Alaskan natives are assumed to be poor, unemployed, uneducated and usually get free medical care from the government. It will be realized that gathering subsistence foodstuffs happened to be the key cultural and economic activity for most of the Alaskan natives. They also practiced hunting and fishing. The Russians were the first non-native to make it Alaska. It is believed that the Russians were hunters. They hunted the fur animals. They traded the fur they obtained from the animals with the Chinese merchants so as to obtain silk, tea and other essential goods.


  1. Why were the British and the Americans both in Pacific Northwest at the same time? Why didn’t this start a war? How did they divide the territory? How did they decide where the border would be?

The British and the Americans arrived in the Pacific Northwest at the same time during the 1780s in their dream to trade for fur. Studies disclose that both countries were in need of the rich farmlands that existed in a mild climate that where suitable for agricultural activities. They were also in need of the natural harbors of Puget Sound that could necessitate trade between either of the countries. The war between the two nations broke as a result of whom to own the Oregon territory. The territory was later divided in order to settle the disputes within the two countries. In their view to divide it they entered the Oregon Treaty that was signed in June 1846 so as to settle the competing claims of the British and Americans. The Oregon Treaty was used to decide on where the boundaries where supposed to be. It will be realized that the treaty set the British North America and the United States border at the 49th parallel but with the exemption of Vancouver Island. The island was entirely retained by the British.


  1. What is the Oregon Trail? What was at the end of the Oregon Trail? Why did people make that trek?

The Oregon Trail clearly refers to the historic east-west route that was made particularly for the large wheeled wagons and was about 3200 kilometers. Scholars extend to define it as an emigrant trail that in fact linked the River Missouri to the Oregon valleys. It is good to note that the part of the Oregon Trail that lay on the eastern part truly paved way for future states of Wyoming, Nebraska and Kansas. On the other hand the western part of the trail spanned for future states of Oregon and Idaho. It is believed that the Oregon Trail was actually laid by early traders and fur trappers that began in 1811 and ended sometimes in 1840. The trail happened to be of crucial use to the nearby inhabitants and the country as a whole. It acted as a natural corridor which enabled United States to move from the continent’s eastern part to the west coast. It necessitated the fur traders to transport their commodities.  Early missionaries used the Oregon Trail to establish churches in the Northwest. In addition, the wagon trains propelled for the contemporary transportation. The trail further turned out to be a route for cattle drives for the eastward. Recently it is considered as a historical site and classified as one of the American icons.


  1. The Pacific Northwest was one of the last places to be settled in the continental United States. Why was the Pacific Northwest considered valuable? What were the opportunities there? What were some of the industries that were started there?

The Pacific Northwest was considered one of the valuable areas of settlement due to some notable reasons. It had rich farmlands and the climate around the whole region was conducive. These necessitated opportunities for development of agricultural activities. The rich farmlands were capable of giving good yields since the climate was assumed to be reliable. It was also considered to be valuable due to the presence of fur animals which could provide fur that was highly demanded. Another key reason that made that Pacific Northwest to be valuable is the fact that it had good natural harbors. They necessitated trade with the oversea countries. It will be documented that several industries were developed in the Pacific Northwest. They extended to include aluminum, fishing, lumbering and tourism. This was as result of the readily available resources that ensured development of these industries. Agricultural related industries were also developed as result of the production of wheat, fruits barley and the rearing of dairy animals.

  1. What is speciality coffee? How did it change at the end of the twentieth century? What is its symbolic importance in American culture?

Specialty coffee was meant to refer to the best flavored beans that were produced in the exceptional microclimates. Studies disclose that specialty coffee can be held to refer to premium or gourmet coffee. Based on the American specialty coffee association any coffee that scores above 80 percent is considered to be specialty. This type of coffee is actually planted in ideal and special climates and is usually distinctive for the reason that it has a full cup taste. The unique tastes and flavors are due to the exceptional characteristics and the soil composition from which are planted. The United States market share for specialty coffee has significantly augmented to about 20 percent over the last twenty five years. The specialty coffee is believed to have changed in the twentieth century as result of outbreak of coffee diseases. It has been affected by the coffee rust which has in turn reduced its quality. According to several reports the disease broke out in 1970s which led to reduction of its expected yields necessitating several workers in the coffee industry to be laid off. It has further affected the coffee drinkers and the livelihoods of its farmers. It was used to symbolize the image, quality and value of the American culture as it was considered to be a superior brand.





California and Hawaii

  1. What were the factors that caused rapid growth in California? Who came to California? What can be found there now?

There are several reasons that explain the rapid growth that occurred in California. Through its integration with United States in the periods of World War I can be held as one of the key drivers that necessitated growth. It was now able to trade on goods that it had shortage. The increased availability of the essential commodities helped in fueling its growth as most of the basic requirements were readily available. The increased development of agriculture, industrialization and urbanization were also some of the key elements that helped in the rapid growth in California. It will be realized that the California’s population grew from 380000 people in 1860 to approximately 3.5 million people in 1920 as a result of the swelling immigration from various parts of Europe, Asia, Latin America and United States. The Native Americans, Chinese, Mexicans, Filipinos, Hindustanis and Japanese are believed to be among the people who came to California. The migrants found hardships and opportunities in the modernizing California.


  1. The Chinese and Japanese were important players in California, although their built imprint is slightly different than those in the other parts of the United States. What mark did the Chinese and Japanese leave on the American built landscape, and how does it differ from the other ethnic immigrants we’ve studied this semester?

As explained above, the Japanese and Chinese were assumed to one of the key players in California. They constituted the larger part of the immigrants and had an appraisable effect on the American landscape. It will be realized that one of the difficulties that arose in the completion of the transcontinental railroad was actually on how to obtain more laborers who were willing and able to work back-breaking and dangerous work. Both the Chinese and Japanese turned out to provide larger part of the required labor. They helped in quickening the rate of work and in the realization of the targeted project completion time. They supplied unique architectural designs that could not be obtained from the other ethnic immigrants. They also influenced on the farming systems were they used labor intensive farming systems. They also developed both Chinese and Japanese restaurants that captured in the lifestyles of these immigrants that were quite different from other ethnic groups. Through the financial support from their countries they also established businesses in major parts of the country.



  1. How was Hawaii discovered? Why was Hawaii considered valuable and how was it used? How did Hawaii change in the twentieth century?

Hawaii refers to a collection of islands which are situated in Pacific Ocean. It was discovered by certain groups of people who in turn happened to be the first to migrate to these islands. According to several historians, Polynesian settlers happened to be first people to inhibit and discover Hawaii. Studies extend to clarify that Captain James Cook was one of these early settlers who discovered Hawaii. It will be acknowledged that these islands do not form any part of a continent but they are assumed to be politically part of the US. It was considered valuable due to its production of pineapples and sugarcane which necessitated business attraction from other countries such as the United States. Its mid climate also necessitated the production of flowers and coffee beans that seemed to be some of the key sources of foreign involvement in the island. During the twentieth century, the economy of Hawaii has clearly changed due to the pineapple and sugar plantations which have in turn led to an influx of Filipino, Chinese, Portuguese and Japanese immigrants. The mix of these immigrants makes the population of Hawaii to be very diverse.


  1. How is loco moco both new and traditional? How is it a unique ethnic and regional foodway?

Loco moco refers to a traditional meal in the Hawaii’s cuisine. It will be realized that there are several variations but it can be considered to be both traditional and new. This is due to the fact that most of its ingredients are some of the major foods that make up contemporary meals.  Essential loco moco is actually required to consist of hamburger patty, brown gravy, fried egg and white rice. It will further be noted that loco moco is currently found in several eateries in Hawaii implying that it remains to be popular as ever hence one of the contemporary meals. Loco moco is not only assumed to be taken as part of breakfast but can also make a great supper and a lunch meal. The diverse ingredients and continued inventions have made loco moco to become a unique regional and ethic food way. Unlike other meals it can served at any time due to its essential ingredients.  Loco moco has actually been featured in various episodes in the Travel Channel show implying that it is one of the best meals that people are advised to take.

  1. Throughout the course we’ve been considering how groups (and their expressive traditions) form through ethnicity and region. How are the San Francisco runaways a cohesive California group that is NOT based on ethnicity (and only marginally based on region)?

San Francisco runaways are assumed to be a cohesive group that is in fact not based on ethnicity. They extend to include several children who come from diverse cultures and religions. This group is truly considered to have a unique attribute unlike other groups that are formed as a result of ethnicity and regions. San Francisco runaways are essentially unified groups that are marginally based on regions. They mostly consist of young street life runaways who in most cases do not have homes. They are actually grouped based on the regions particularly from the streets that they originate from. People from similar regions are assumed to have a similar culture and lifestyles therefore grouping the runaways based on the regions of origin would not greatly affect them. They will in turn grow with a culture that is similar to that of their aboriginal backgrounds. In general, groups in a society can be formed based on regions and not ethnicity because people from a similar region are clearly assumed to have almost similar ways of life.