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Department of American Studies College of Arts and Sciences

Christina Snyder

Picture of Christina Snyder

Associate Professor
Department of History
Department of American Studies

Thomas Milton Miller and Kathryn Owens Miller Professor of History
Chair, Committee on Native American and Indigenous Studies; Faculty Curator, Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology; Research Associate, American Indian Studies Research Institute

Office: Ballantine Hall 828
Phone: (812) 855-2176
E-mail: snyderch at


Ph.D., History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2007
A.B., Anthropology, University of Georgia (2001)

Research Interests

Native American Studies, Race, Slavery, Colonialism

Personal Statement

My scholarship focuses on Native North America and on the histories of colonialism and slavery. In my first book, Slavery in Indian Country: The Changing Face of Captivity in Early America, I traced the dynamic nature of captivity from roughly A.D. 1000, when Native chiefdoms competed for regional power, through the conclusion of the Second Seminole War in 1842. Captivity was a fluid practice, which Southern Indians repeatedly reinvented to deal with a succession of challenges, including chiefly competition during the pre-Columbia era, post contact demographic disaster, and incorporation into the global economy in the colonial era. Not until the late eighteenth century did captivity transition from a kin-based to a race-based practice, a shift that had profound consequences for all inhabitants of the American South. In addition to enhancing the visibility of Native people in the broader narratives of early American studies and Southern history, this project addresses cross-cultural constructions of race and racism as well as the global history of slavery.

Currently, I'm at work on a book called Great Crossing, named after the town that encompassed Choctaw Academy--the first national Indian boarding school. Open from 1825 to 1848, the school was located on the plantation of prominent politician Richard Mentor Johnson. Although initiated by the Choctaw Nation, the academy became home to a diverse range of Native peoples from the Southeast and Midwest, including Creeks, Cherokees, Chickasaws, Seminoles, Potawatomis, Miamis, and Osages. In addition to white and Indian teachers, the school was supported by the labor of free and enslaved African Americans. Great Crossing explores how early U.S. imperialism bound these diverse groups closer together culturally while creating political conflicts that would prove intractable.

As a Faculty Curator at the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology, I am working with the Ohio Valley-Great Lakes Ethnohistory Archive as well as the lab's vast collections to begin a third project, Ancient America, which combines history, archaeology, and oral tradition to offer a more seamless narrative of the North American past and dissolve the Eurocentric divide between "prehistory" and "history."

Courses Recently Taught


  • AMST-A 275 Indigenous Worldviews
  • HIST-A 207 Introduction to Native American History
  • HIST-A 300 Native American Women
  • HIST-J 300 Native American and Indigenous Cultures


  • AMST-G 605 Introduction to Native American and Indigenous Studies

Selected Publications

Slavery in Indian Country: The Changing Face of Captivity in Early America (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2010).

  • Winner, John C. Ewers Prize, Western History Association
  • Winner, Berkshire Conference of Women Historians Book Prize
  • Winner, James H. Broussard Prize, Society for Historians of the Early American Republic
  • Honorable Mention, Frederick Jackson Turner Prize, Organization of American Historians
  • Finalist, Frederick Douglass Prize, Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition

"Native Nations in the Age of Revolution," inThe World of the Revolutionary American Republic, ed. Andrew Shankman (New York: Routledge, 2014), 77-94.

"The Long History of American Slavery," in the OAH Magazine of History 27 (October 2013): 23-27.

"Conquered Enemies, Adopted Kin, and Owned People: The Creek Indians and Their Captives," Journal of Southern History 73 (2007): 255-288.

Honors and Awards

  • Kate B. & Hall J. Peterson Fellowship, American Antiquarian Society, 2012-2013
  • Outstanding Junior Faculty Award, Indiana University, 2012
  • American Council of Learned Sciences (ACLS) Fellowship, 2011-2012
  • Trustees' Teaching Award, IU, 2011-2012
  • Barra/Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship, McNeil Center for Early American Studies, 2007-2009
  • Phillips Fellowship, American Philosophical Society, 2006