Alyssa Mt. Pleasant

      Assistant Professor
      Office: 1015 Clemens Hall
      Telephone: (716) 645-0833


Alyssa Mt Pleasant 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."

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 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, 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.


Ph.D. in History and American Indian Studies, Cornell University (2007)
M.A. in History, Cornell University (2002)
A.B. in History, Barnard College, Columbia University (1997)

Recent Publications

“Salt, Sand, & Sweetgrass: Methodologies for Exploring the Seasonal Basket Trade in Southern Maine” forthcoming in American Indian Quarterly, 2014.

“Independence for Whom? Expansion and Conflict in the Northeast and Northwest” in The Worlds of American Revolutionary Republic, Andrew Shankman, ed. Routledge, forthcoming 2014.

“Guiding principles: Guswenta and the debate over formal schooling at Buffalo Creek” in Indian Subjects: New Directions in the History of Indigenous Education, Brenda J. Child and Brian Klopotek, eds. SAR Press, forthcoming 2013.

“Indians Playing Lacrosse on the Ice” in Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness: American Art 1660–1893 from the Yale University Art Gallery exhibit catalog, Yale University Press, 2007.

“Debating Missionary Presence at Buffalo Creek: Haudenosaunee perspectives on the intersection of land cessions, government relations, and Christianity” in Ethnographies and Exchanges: Native Americans, Moravians and Catholics in Early North America, A. Gregg Roeber, ed. Penn State Press, 2007.

Works in Progress

"After the Whirlwind: Haudenosaunee people and the Emergence of U.S. settler colonialism, 1780-1825." This study argues that the community at Buffalo Creek was a site of recovery and resistance for Haudenosaunee people in the period between the Revolutionary War and the opening of the Erie Canal. During that time they grappled with emergent U.S. settler colonialism at the local, state, and federal levels, relying on a rich cultural repertoire and impressive adaptive capabilities to sustain the community. The book will be an important intervention in the subfield of Haudenosaunee (or Iroquois) Studies. It challenges dominant paradigms of decline, providing an explanatory framework for the post-war period as it illuminates the history of the largest Haudenosaunee community in the early American republic.

"Searching for their Rightful Place: Haudenosaunee women in the nineteenth century", Mt. Pleasant’s second project looks to the oral tradition of Jigonsaseh as the starting point for an ethnohistoric study examining women’s experiences during this century of fast-paced change. Fleeting glimpses of these women’s lives, found in records created by missionaries, travelers, diplomats, and other observers during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, suggest that they were able to maintain familiar roles within their families, matrilineal clans, and nations throughout the colonial period. My project gauges the significance of settler colonialism in Haudenosaunee women’s lives, considering the ways their power and status was affected by engagement with the new American regime in the nineteenth century.

Recent Awards, Honors, and Fellowships

Research Associate, McNeil Center for Early American Studies, University of Pennsylvania, 2009-2013.

Visiting Scholar, Center for Native American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Spring 2010.

Association of Native Americans at Yale Community Award, honoring “the contributions of faculty…who have significantly improved or enriched the lives of Native American students at Yale”, November 2010.

“Indian Subjects: New Directions in the History of Indigenous Education,” short seminar invited participant, School for Advanced Research, Santa Fe, NM, October 2009.

Morse Faculty Fellowship, Yale University, 2009-2010 Academic Year.



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