B.A. University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2012
M.A. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2016
My dissertation focuses on the Apalachee Indians, who historically lived in the Florida panhandle near present-day Tallahassee, but it is foremost a regional history that examines how the Apalachees shaped diplomacy, war, and trade in the Gulf Southeast in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. I take an ethnohistorical approach to this project, drawing on Spanish colonial documents and recent archaeology.
Contrary to the common narrative of Spanish colonialism in the Gulf Southeast, I argue that Apalachee territory remained an Apalachee-controlled space during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and the Apalachees overwhelmingly dictated their diplomatic and trade relationships with both the Spaniards and their Indigenous neighbors. By situating themselves at the geographic and power center of an ever-expanding network of primarily Indigenous allies, the Apalachees became a regional diplomatic powerhouse. Yet when regional changes destabilized this diplomatic network in the latter half of the seventeenth century, the Apalachees invited both Indigenous allies and the Spaniards to undertake infrastructure- and settlement-building projects in their territory, cultivating these allies' dependence on Apalachee land, labor, and resources and helping the Apalachees concentrate diplomatic power locally. By revealing St. Augustine's marginal position in its diplomatic and trade relationships with the Apalachees and other allies, this project reconsiders diplomatic power in the Gulf Southeast more broadly. I demonstrate that framing the Gulf Southeast as “Spanish Florida” has obscured, rather than revealed, the dynamic, Indigenous-centered networks that determined the diplomatic and trade landscape of this region.
I have received support for this research from a variety of sources, including the UNC Graduate School, UNC Medieval and Early Modern Studies, the University of Florida Libraries, and the Daughters of the American Revolution. I also have presented my research at a number of conferences, including the American Historical Association, the American Society for Ethnohistory, the Southern Historical Association, the Agricultural History Society, and the Southeastern Council of Latin American Studies, and workshops, including at the Huntington Library and at King’s College in London. At the University of North Carolina, I have taught courses including "Native North America," "American Women's History to 1865," and "Colonialism, Power, and Resistance (co-taught)."