I grew up in the Appalachian Mountains in Virginia and am enrolled in the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. After graduating from Cornell University, I worked as a program officer and researcher at First Nations Development Institute. My work engages the political worlds of Indigenous peoples in both the United States and from a global perspective. Much of my earlier work seeks to forward the political lives of Indigenous peoples in fields such as political science which have not historical engaged these themes and experiences. I am currently developing projects that seek to close the distance between Indigenous and "Western" methods in the social sciences.
My research centers on two approaches to Indigenous politics. The first approach examines institutions and attitudes internal to Indigenous polities. For example, my book, Reservation Politics: Historical Loss, Economic Development and Intratribal Conflict, published by the University of Oklahoma Press (2017) explores how tribes manage internal conflicts about economic development and past grievances. The second approach to Indigenous politics seeks to understand attitudes about Indigenous peoples from the perspective of settler societies. This includes experimental studies, such as “American Indian erasures and the logic of elimination” published in Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies (2019), that link the ways in which Indigenous peoples are depicted to levels of support for self-determination as a forthcoming article in Ethnohistory exploring the inability of tribes to reconstitute themselves in the contemporary period as they had in previous periods. My research places these themes into contact with multiple fields, including tribal health policy, law, identity, trauma and economic development.
I am currently working on a National Institute of Health grant that supports the collaboration of researchers with Native communities on the appropriate place of genomic research in tribal health and knowledge. This extends previous research on the relationships between public health, law and tribal politics that I undertook as a fellow at the University of Washington’s Native Elder Research Center. Other collaborative projects I’ve engaged with include the Harvard Project on Native American Development that examined Indigenous nation building in the US and Australia around issues of governance, identity and policy. In my current research I am developing projects that explore the intersection of trust, law, regulation and health priorities in Native American tribes.
I am the Mae and John Hueston Distinguished Professor in Native American and Indigenous Studies and Associate Professor at Dartmouth College. Before joining Dartmouth’s Department of Native American and Indigenous Studies, I was Department Chair of Native American Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Before Oklahoma, I taught comparative and Indigenous politics at the University of Melbourne, Australia. I received my PhD in Political Science from UC Berkeley and have been a post-doctoral fellow at Princeton's Department of Politics, Yale's Program in Race, Ethnicity and Migration, and the University of Washington's Native Elder Research Center. I am currently a senior fellow in the Atlantic Institute for Social Equity.