Current Research

“Dakota Diaspora: Removal, Refugees, and Resistance in the Aftermath of the U.S.-Dakota War”

Between May and June, 2021, I will spend three weeks as a Visiting Scholar at the Newberry Library in Chicago, Illinois. While researching for my dissertation project, I will mine the archives in search of materials describing the the spatial movement of Santee Dakota after the U.S.-Dakota War in Minnesota (1862) and its continuation in subsequent years. By exploring ethnohistoric sources and reading against the grain of colonial documents, my project hopes to showcase Dakota sovereignty and decision-making in their movement from Minnesota to new places significant to the Oceti Sakowin, such as Dakota Territory, Manitoba, Nebraska, and other places in the Northern Great Plains and American West. I’m particularly interested in their move across international borders into Manitoba and diplomatic relations with Canadian officials to create a new place recognized by that government. I believe this movement questions American settler colonialism’s quest in erasing Dakota communities to emphasize survival, resistance, and self-determination.

“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.

SHEAR Roundtable Presentation, Summer 2021

My research explores the establishment of Mankato, Minnesota in the years leading up to the U.S.-Dakota War and the mass execution of 38 Dakota men in 1862. By analyzing Dakota etymology, history, and culture, the city of Mankato was far from devoid of a Dakota presence and remained a space central to Dakota survival and perseverance.