The field of American Indian, Native American, and Indigenous History at UIUC trains graduate students in comparative, transnational, and interdisciplinary historical research focused on Native North America (Canada, the U.S., & Mexico). The core faculty produce public facing, community engaged histories across a wide range of thematic subjects, time periods, and geographic regions.

Faculty expertise includes early America, Indigenous relations to the environment, religion and religious practice, gender and Indigenous feminisms, social and environmental justice, labor, urbanization, transnational relations (U.S./Canada and U.S./Mexico), tribal sovereignty and U.S. federal Indian policy. Our work intersects with other disciplines at UIUC, including American Indian Studies, African American Studies, Earth, Society and Environment, Gender & Women’s Studies, and Latina/Latino Studies.

UIUC is a member of the Newberry Consortium in American Indian and Indigenous Studies (NCAIS) that provides essential training for graduate students in Indigenous Studies. Every year, students from member universities are invited to hone their research skills at a spring workshop, delve into the Newberry collection during a summer institute, and present their work at a graduate conference.

We encourage prospective students to reach out to us to discuss their research interests.

David R.M. Beck is an award-winning historian with research interests in federal Indian policy, tribal sovereignty, and urban Indian history. He collaborates with Indigenous people across the United States on various community-driven projects. His most recent book is Unfair Labor? American Indians and the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

Rosalyn LaPier is an award-winning Indigenous writer, environmental historian, and ethnobotanist. She works within Indigenous communities to revitalize traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), to address the growing climate crisis & environmental justice, and to strengthen public policy for Indigenous languages. Rosalyn is an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Tribe of Montana and Métis.

Bob Morrissey’s interests are in early American and environmental history. His writing has explored the Indigenous Midwest in the distant past through the beginnings of settler colonialism. He is fortunate to work with Myaamia and Peewaalia community members on revitalization projects related to hide art practice and meaning.

Yuri Ramírez is a Chicana historian who teaches in Latina/o/x history and migration. Since 2011, she has collaborated closely with the Indigenous P’urhépecha community of Cherán, Michoacán, and her book Indigeneity on the Move: Transborder Politics from Michoacán to North Carolina is based on this work. By employing a Critical Latinx Indigeneties framework, Indigeneity on the Move expands our understanding of what social justice movements look like when confronted with the nuance of racial formations, the political processes of nations, histories of Indigenous struggle, and demands for just immigration reform.

Jacki Rand  (citizen, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma) is the first Associate Vice Chancellor for Native Affairs at the University of Illinois and Associate Professor of American Indian Studies. Her current research interests center on federal Indian law and policy, settler colonialism, and global indigenous histories. Dr. Rand has taught courses in the history of Native North America, federal Indian law and policy, museums, human rights and public history.  She is presently developing courses on Midwest Indigeneity and Indigenous feminisms.

Related courses taught by core faculty & PhD students:

  • HIST 200: Natives and Newcomers in Early America
  • HIST 202: American Environmental History
  • HIST 277: Encounters in Native America
  • HIST 278: Native American History
  • HIST/LLS 279: Mexican American History
  • HIST 288: American Indians of Illinois (currently taught by a PhD student)
  • HIST 312: Immigrant America
  • HIST 365: Fiction and Historical Imagination (currently taught by PhD student)
  • HIST 381: Urban (American Indian) History
  • HIST 488: The American Political Divide: Federal Indian Policy & Indigenous Nations in the U.S
  • HIST 498: Oral History and the Modern U.S.
  • HIST 498: Issues in American Indian History and Historiography
  • HIST 570: Global Environmental History
  • HIST 572: Problems in US History Since 1815: Environmental Issues within Indigenous Communities