Department of History

Christina Snyder

  • Thomas Milton Miller and Kathryn Owens Miller Associate Professor of History, Department of History
  • Faculty Curator, Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology


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

Contact Information

Ballantine Hall, Rm. 828
(812) 855-2287


Christina Snyder

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 Crossings 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."


Selected Awards

  • Kate B. & Hall. J. Peterson Fellowship, American Antiquarian Society, 2012-2013.
  • Outstanding Junior Faculty Award, Indiana University, 2012.
  • American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Fellowship, 2011-2012.
  • Trustees' Teaching Award, IU, 2011-2012.
  • Barra/Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, McNeil Center for Early American Studies, 2007-09.
  • Phillips Fellow, American Philosophical Society, 2006.

Research Interests

  • Native American
  • Early American
  • American South
  • Slavery and Race

Courses Recently Taught


  • AMST A275: Indigenous Worldviews
  • HIST A207: Introduction to Native American History
  • HIST J300: Natives and Newcomers in Early America
  • HIST A300: Native American Women


  • AMST G605: Introduction to Native American and Indigenous Studies

Publication Highlights

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 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," in _The 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.