Current Research

"Dakota Sioux Break Camp," Alfred Sully Papers, Yale University.

“The Dakota Diaspora: Redefining the Dakota Homeland by Traversing the Borders of Settler States, 1862-1890”

My dissertation, “The Dakota Diaspora: Redefining the Dakota Homeland by Traversing the Borders of Settler States, 1862-1890,” reframes the history of a diasporic Dakota community into the study of refugee and immigration history. In the wake of the U.S.-Dakota War in 1862, the federal government began forcing Dakota people from Minnesota into concentration camps, prisoner of war installations, and confinement onto reservations throughout the Northern Great Plains. Those who escaped capture moved west into Dakota Territory joining relatives in the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ (or known as the Sioux Nation). My dissertation, however, explores a little-known but vitally important part of this story: the movement of Dakota from Minnesota into Manitoba, Canada. Dakota mobility north of the U.S. and Canadian border, as I plan to argue, was a strategic decision by Dakota leaders as they rekindled past political relationships with the British and then the Canadian governments that had been in existence for centuries and reclaimed lands the Dakota perceived as part of their traditional homeland. These “Sioux Refugees,” as Canadian officials called them, used their mobility to reject American policies of genocide. In turn, this experience reasserted Dakota sovereignty on a global stage and across international borders, actively redefining the meaning of their own homeland.

Screengrab from The Oregon Trail

"Searching for Indigeneity in The Oregon Trail"


This project explores the Indigenous histories paved over by the Oregon Trail in the hit computer program developed in 1971 and redeveloped in 1985. As part of the edited collection, Playing at War: Identity & Memory in American Civil War Video Games (LSU Press), my chapter uses the designers strategies to be “historical accurate” in developing The Oregon Trail as a means to emphasize the unintentional or intentional erasure of Indigenous histories in the beloved computer game. I argue that settler colonialism plays a pivotal role in our perception of the American West, the Oregon Trail, and the computer game that depicted the journey of white settlers west in the nineteenth century, infrequently encountering Indigenous people and their cultures along the way. Games like When Rivers Were Trails, as I describe in the chapter, provide a corrective to the settler colonial erasures to show Indigenous survivance and experiences, not only in the game but also its developmental process all together. We hope to see this collection published in 2022.

Little Six and Medicine Bottle courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society


Punishing Little Six and Medicine Bottle:

How U.S. Political Violence Shaped the Long U.S.-Dakota War, 1862-1865

This paper explores the persistent efforts of the U.S. government to punish Minnesota Dakota after the U.S.-Dakota War. Most scholars see the Dakota War as a brief conflict lasting only six weeks during the late summer of 1862 in Minnesota. Additionally, they see the war ending with the largest mass execution in U.S. history when the Army hanged thirty-eight Dakota on December 26, 1862. This paper, however, explores the 1864-1865 episode of Little Six and Medicine Bottle’s abduction from British Canada, their military trials, and formal execution as a way to expand the geographic and chronological scope of the Dakota War. Often overlooked and under-appreciated, this paper focuses on the military trials to show how the Army used legal military proceedings to justify extreme punishment of the Dakota fugitives. This commission relied on shoddy evidence to support murder and other depredation charges in these trials. At the same time, the commission ignored the U.S. Army’s illegal abduction of the Dakota chiefs from sovereign British territory. The Little Six and Medicine Bottle affair connects with other military tribunals that punished the Dakota after the Dakota War. I coin the “Long U.S.-Dakota War” framework to show how Little Six and Medicine Bottle’s dramatic story was more than an anomaly but part of a persisting effort to punish and criminalize Dakota people.