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Vivien Tejada



My dissertation examines the Mississippi River Valley to ask whether the sectional conflict over westward expansion appears differently if we look outward from the center of the continent rather than from east to west. Including the people who inhabited this heterogeneous region reveals that, in the middle of the continent, slavery developed in tandem with the coerced labor of Native Americans. The land Anglo-Americans came to inhabit was, therefore, unfree soil. To turn from the arguments of eastern politicians to lived reality, I trace the migration, settlement patterns, and labor systems of Native American, French, Spanish, British, and, finally, American individuals within the region.

I am an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation. I graduated with a B.A. in History (cum laude and departmental honors) from Dartmouth College, where my undergraduate research won the Jonathan B. Rintels Prize for Best Honors Thesis in the Social Sciences. At Duke University, I am a James B. Duke Fellow. My primary advisor is Gunther Peck, and my committee members include Juliana Barr, Dirk Bönker, Colin Calloway, and Thavolia Glymph.

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