I am scholar of early American history focused on Native American, early settler, Midwestern, and environmental history. My research is broadly concerned with the intersection of power and the environment. I am interested particularly in how the access and control of environmental resources impacted socio-political relations in the nineteenth-century Great Lakes.
My article, published in the Journal of Borderlands Studies and entitled “Borders of Authority: Power in the Canadian Borderlands at the 1844 Jesuit-Anishinaabeg Debate” examines a series of conversations and confrontations between an Anishinaabeg ogimaa, Oshawana and a Jesuit priest Fr. Pierre Chazelle.
Research linking Indigenous history and environmental history continues to illuminate new linkages and insights into the history of settlement in the United States. My essay for the H-Net Book Channel, “Historical Perspectives on Tribal Sovereignty and the Environment” explored how recent historical scholarship has explored issues linking tribal power and access to environmental resources.
The research of my dissertation centered on the importance of manoomin (wild rice) and ziinzibaakwad (maple sugar) to the western Ojibwe and eastern Dakota villages in the western Great Lakes borderlands. The intersection of kinship, power, and access to these vital environmental resources merged at the 1825 Prairie du Chien Treaty Council. My dissertation analyzed to what extent these elements influenced the events of the council. More information on this project can be found the Dissertation Research section.
During the summer of 2017 I served as an Associate Editor/Research for the “Pioneer Girl Project” at the South Dakota Historical Society Press. I conducted background and historical research on the Ingalls family as they move through the Midwest and into the West during the second half of the nineteenth-century. More information about the project can be found on the project’s website.
The importance of water as a source of life, a means of transportation, a location for food cultivation, and as a boundary is a key theme in my future research. Similar to how Great Lakes Indians depended on water for wild rice cultivation and transportation, American settlers also were reliant on access to water. However, their utilization of water differed, especially in regards to perceptions of water use and utility. My future research will further investigate the place of water in the early American history.