Alyssa Mt. Pleasant


Alyssa Mt. Pleasant.

Alyssa Mt. Pleasant


Alyssa Mt. Pleasant


Fields of Interest

Native American History; Native American and Indigenous Studies; Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Studies; Early American History


  • PhD, History and American Indian Studies, Cornell University, 2007
  • BA, History, Barnard College, Columbia University, 1997


Alyssa Mt. Pleasant, PhD, specializes in Native American and Indigenous Studies, with a focus on Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) history during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Her broader teaching and research interests include early American history, American Indian social and intellectual histories; settler colonialism, especially as it relates to legal and educational systems; conceptualizations of space, place, and land tenure in Indian Country; and public history. Her work has or will be published in American Indian Quarterly and several collections of scholarly work. She is currently revising a manuscript titled, "After the Whirlwind: Haudenosaunee People and the Emergence of U.S. Settler-coloniailsm, 1780-1825."

Prof. Mt. Pleasant has presented her research at numerous scholarly conferences organized by the American Society for Ethnohistory, the American Studies Association, the Bershire Conference on the History of Women, the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, the Omohundro Institute for Early American History and Culture, and the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic. She has been invited to speak at historical societies, libraries, museums, high schools, and American Indian cultural resource organizations. From 2010 to 2012, Prof. Mt. Pleasant served as co-chair of the host committee for the 2012 annual meeting of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, a conference that drew over 800 scholars to the Mohegan Sun conference center. In 2013 she was elected to a three-year term on the Council of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association.

When she isn’t conducting research, writing, or teaching, Prof. Mt. Pleasant enjoys consulting on museum exhibits and appreciates opportunities to share current scholarship with general audiences. She has been a guest on CNN and her work has been profiled in the New York Times and in Diverse: Issues in Higher Education.

Current Research

Research interests: Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) history before 1900; Native American social history; Native American intellectual history; Settler colonialism; Colonial schooling; Space, place, and land tenure in Indian Country; Emotional labor and BIPOC faculty.

"My current book project, After the Whirlwind: Haudenosaunee People and the Emergence of US Settler Colonialism is a study of the Buffalo Creek reservation, focusing on the community’s history between the Revolutionary War and the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825. This community formed in the crucible of the Revolution was a site of recovery and resistance for Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) people. It was a political center where people debated rapidly changing circumstances (including vigilante and state-sponsored violence, land speculation, colonial assertions of jurisdiction, and aggressive proselytizing) and developed strategies that enabled their persistence in the face of settler colonialism. By carefully examining the development of the community, the pressures it faced, and the resources people drew upon to resist or redirect these pressures, I explain the ways settler colonialism emerged on the ground during the earliest years of the American republic. In doing so I challenge pervasive declension narratives as well as triumphalist discussions of US expansion, prompting specialists in American history as well as general readers to reconsider their notions about colonialism and the place of American Indian people in US society."

Selected Publications

  • "Materials and Methods in Native American and Indigenous Studies: Completing the Turn," with Caroline Wigginton and Kelly Wisecup, The William and Mary Quarterly 75:2 (2018) 207-36.
  •  “Materials and Methods in Native American and Indigenous Studies Forum,” co-edited with Caroline Wigginton and Kelly Wisecup, Part 1 in The William and Mary Quarterly, 75:2 (2018); Part 2 in Early American Literature, 53:2 (2018).
  • “Emotional Labor and Precarity in Native American and Indigenous Studies,” English Language Notes 54:2 (2016) 175-181.
  •  “On Familiarity, Settler Colonialism, and Shifting Narratives: A Response to Arini Loader’s ‘Kei Wareware’: Remembering Te Rauparaha,” Biography 39:3 (2016) 370-372.
  •  “Salt, Sand, and Sweetgrass: Methodologies for Exploring the Seasonal Basket Trade in Southern Maine,” American Indian Quarterly 38:4 (2014) 411-426.
  • “Independence for whom?: Expansion and conflict in the Northeast and Northwest,” in The World of the Revolutionary American Republic, ed. Andrew Shankman, 116-133. New York: Routledge, 2014.
  • “Guiding principles: Guswenta and the debate over formal schooling at Buffalo Creek, 1800-1811.” In Indian Subjects: Hemispheric Perspectives on the History of Indigenous Education, eds. Brenda J. Child and Brian Klopotek, 114-132. Santa Fe: SAR Press, 2014.

Courses Taught

  • AMS 179: Introduction to Native American History
  • AMS 199: New World Imaginaries
  • AMS 281: Native Americans and the Colonial Problem
  • AMS 3xx: Indigenous Legal Systems
  • AMS 500: Readings in American Indian History
  • AMS 550: Archival Research in Theory and Practice
  • AMS 551: Native American Studies Colloquium

Awards and Honors

  • Grant-in-aid from Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University to participate in Accelerator Workshop “Structural Tenderness: Race, Emotional Labour, and the University,” 2019
  • Grant-in-aid from Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, University of British Columbia to participate in International Research Seminar “Smiling to their Faces: Race, Emotional Labour, and the University,” 2018
  • Grant-in-aid from Great Lakes Research Alliance for the Study of Aboriginal Arts and Culture (an SSHRC Partnership Development Grant) to participate in “Negotiating Schooling and Literacies in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River, 1750-1900” research group, 2017
  • Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Fellowship, Harvard University, 2015
  • Community Award, Association of Native Americans at Yale, 2010
  • Morse Faculty Fellowship, Yale University, 2009
  • Faculty Fellow, Women, Religion, and Globalization Initiative, Yale University, 2007-2009


  • Program Director, Native American Scholars Initiative at the American Philosophical Society, since 2017
  • Council member, Omohundro Institute for Early American History and Culture, 2018-2021
  • Advisory Board member, Women Also Know History, since 2017
  • Council member, Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, 2013-2016
  • UB Haudenosaunee-Native American Working Group, since 2013
  • UB Early Modern Studies Working Group, since 2013