I teach primarily Indigenous history at UBC, although I also work in environmental, place-based, urban, and imperial histories. I teach courses ranging from Global Indigenous History to Histories of Place, from the year-long North American Indigenous Survey to First Contacts in the Pacific.
My first book was Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place (2007), which linked urban and Indigenous histories through the experiences of the local Duwamish people, Indigenous migrants to the city, and the uses of “Indian” imagery in urban landscapes and historical narratives. It argued that instead of being mutually exclusive, urban and Indigenous histories are in fact mutually constitutive. Native Seattle won the 2007 Washington State Book Award, and an article based on one of the chapters, “City of the Changers,” was named best article of 2006 by the Urban History Association.
I am currently writing Indigenous London: Native Travellers at the Heart of Empire, which reframes the metropolis and its history through the experiences of Indigenous people who travelled there, willingly or otherwise, from territories that became the US, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, beginning in 1502. To support this work, during 2013-2014 sabbatical year, I was a visiting fellow at the Institute for Historical Research at the University of London and an Eccles Fellow in North American Studies at the British Library. Indigenous London is now available for pre-ordering.
In between Native Seattle and Indigenous London, I have published on topics ranging from food and encounter to earthquakes and colonial science. I also co-edited the volume Phantom Pasts, Indigenous Presence: Native Ghosts in North American Culture & History (2011).
My next book project is entitled SlaughterTown. In it, I return to the Pacific Northwest, and more specifically, to my hometown of Auburn, Washington. The project is about four grim things that happened there: a war between Indigenous people and settlers in the 1850s, the destruction of a river in the 1900s, the internment of one of the region's largest Japanese communities in the 1940s, and the US's most prolific serial killer, the Green River Killer, in the 1980s. I am primarly interested in the ways in which places and landscapes hold historical trauma, and how these events reflect the racial, environmental, and gendered logics of settler colonialism. Intertwined with my own family's history of intergenerational violence and westward migration, the book will be a combination of traditional history and memoir. (It's called SlaughterTown because before it was renamed Auburn in the 1890s, the town was known as Slaughter, after a soldier killed in the so-called "Indian War.")
I am particularly interested in working with graduate students who are curious about the intersections between Indigenous history and other fields such as urban, environmental, imperial, science, or Atlantic histories; the early modern and colonial periods; ideas about place and belonging; and the Northwest Coast of North America. I welcome inquiries.
Funded by a Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council Standard Research Grant; a Hampton Grant and Arts Undergraduate Research Award from UBC; a short-term fellowship from the Huntington Library; and a visiting fellowship at the Institute for Historical Research, School of Advanced Studies, University of London.
Winner of the 2007 Washington State Book Award in History/Biography.
This course is a broad overview of the histories of Indigenous peoples in what became Canada and the United States, from before first contacts with non-Aboriginal peoples to the near future. We will pay special attention of the diversity of communities and individuals that have come to be categorized as “Indian”; to the diversity of non-Native communities and individuals; to the historical agency of colonized peoples; and to the ways in which our present circumstances have been shaped by the past. As context for the historical circumstances in which we currently find ourselves in British Columbia, we will also regularly visit the notion of “treaties” – political, legal, economic, and even religious agreements between peoples and nations – as they changed over time. Themes and topics will include ecological encounters between continents and peoples, economic and religious exchanges, policy and law, the social construction of race and other identities, the place of Indigenous peoples in the culture and politics of colonialism, and Aboriginal strategies of resistance, accommodation, and survival. This course will also be an introduction to the methods of “ethnohistory,” which uses diverse sources in addition to written documents to craft historical narratives. By the end of the course, students will have an understanding of “Native issues” such as residential schools, treaties and land claims, and environmental justice, and how these issues affect all of us who call this continent home.
An interdisciplinary history of early European contact with the Indigenous peoples of the northwest coast of North America and the Pacific Islands.
This course explores intersections between Indigenous and urban histories, an emerging area of research. Topics include city building as colonialism, Indigenous engagement with urbanity, and the ideologies that make us think Indigenous and urban histories have little to do with each other. We will cover several centuries and locations around the world, including Vancouver. Students will conduct original exploratory research and will come to an understanding of what it means to be part of a new area of scholarship. There are no course prerequisites, but some background in Indigenous studies will help.