tags: Top Young Historians
Teaching Position: Assistant Professor, History and American Studies, Indiana University 2009-present.
Area of Research: Identity, race, and the intersection of Native American and Southern history
Education: Ph.D., History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2007
Major Publications: Snyder is the author of Slavery in Indian Country: The Changing Face of Captivity in Early America(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2010). Snyder is also the author of scholarly journal articles, book chapters and reviews including among others: "Conquered Enemies, Adopted Kin, and Owned People: The Creek Indians and Their Captives," Journal of Southern History73 (2007), 255-288; "The Lady of Cofitachequi: Gender and Political Power among Native Southerners" in South Carolina Women: Their Lives and Times, ed. Joan Johnson, Valinda Littlefield, and Marjorie Spruill. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2009.
Snyder is currently working on the book manuscript "The Indian Gentlemen of Choctaw Academy: Status and Sovereignty in Antebellum America." and an upcoming journal article "Andrew Jackson's Indian Son: Native Captives and White Captors."
Awards: Snyder is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
College Arts and Humanities Institute (CAHI) Travel Research Grant, IU, 2010;
New Frontiers Exploration Traveling Fellowship, IU, 2010;
Barra/Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, McNeil Center for Early American Studies, 2007-09;
Sequoyah Fellow, Royster Society of Fellows, The Graduate School, UNC , 2006-07;
Phillips Fellow, American Philosophical Society, 2006;
Wills Fellow, Tennessee Historical Society, 2006;
Filson Fellow, Filson Historical Society, 2004/05;
Summer Research Grant, Center for the Study of the American South, 2004.
Snyder was the Barra/Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Asst. Professor, McNeil Center for Early American Studies, University of Pennsylvania, 2007-2009.
I grew up in Macon, Georgia, a fall-line city carved out of Creek Indian country that became a major cotton depot. My high school was downtown, near a cluster of historic sites: the Cannonball House, so-named because of damage sustained during the Civil War; the 1916 Beaux Arts train station, with its reliquary of extra water foundations and bathrooms and waiting rooms; the home of Sidney Lanier, a poet, novelist, and critic who famously eulogized the Old South; the Douglass Theater which, throughout the Jim Crow era, featured entertainers including local greats like Little Richard and Otis Redding. Every day we passed a memorial of some kind, markers that begged us to consider the legacies of slavery, the Civil War, segregation, or some combination thereof. Substantial physical reminders were all around us, and they forced an ongoing dialog with our history. I doubt that any Maconite would argue that the past is past.
Towering literally over all these historic sites were the Ocmulgee mounds, remnants of a thousand-year-old Native city that had borne silent witness to a much longer scope of Southern history. The tallest mound was built atop a natural plateau, and seemed nearly twice as high as its fifty feet when viewed from the floodplain. When I was about eight years old, I went to summer day-camp there, and I remember trekking around the sweltering, miasmic bottomlands at the base the mounds, wondering about the lives of the chiefs who had lived atop them, including how they had managed without air conditioning. Growing up, this place seemed disjointed from the rest of my historical knowledge: I could connect the dots from the colony's eighteenth-century settlers to the living history museum at the Georgia Agorama, but Ocmulgee seemed an awe-inspiring outlier, a challenge to what I thought I knew about the place I grew up.
That challenge has continued to inspire me. Throughout the course of my education, I discovered, of course, that Ocmulgee is not an outlier. It was an early and particularly grand example of the Native chiefdoms that dominated the region prior to European colonization. The Creek or Muscogee Indians, whose ancestors built the site, carried its name with them to Indian Territory, now Oklahoma; their tribal government meets at Okmulgee in a contemporary building shaped like a mound. Indian Removal expelled the Creeks and many other Native peoples from their homelands, and so, too, did it largely erase them from the region's historical memory. When the cotton curtain descended, it obscured the history of an older South, a messier, less biologically determined one. But, as I wrote in my first book, these two Souths were never really separate, and Native people, like their neighbors, struggled with questions of identity and belonging, and the meaning and significance of race, slavery, and freedom. I'm grateful to all of my teachers, especially my hometown, for showing me the complexity and diversity of American history, for exposing its contested meanings and its enduring relevance to us all.
By Christina Snyder
About Christina Snyder
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