I am a professor of American history and Eminent Scholar (2019-2024) in the College of Humanities and Sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University. I received my Ph.D. in History from the University of California, Davis. I've taught in California, Hawaii, Scotland, and Ohio. I currently live in Richmond, Virginia.
My research and writing focuses on the histories of Indigenous people and African Americans from the eighteenth century to the present. I am particularly interested in the rich history of the Cherokee people, Indigenous history in the Mountain South and throughout the Southeast, and environmental history. My work is devoted to narrating the past in ways that connect with issues of social justice, environmental sustainability, and racial and gender equality.
You can also find me on twitter, Facebook, tumblr, and at VCU
The United States in the midst of a serious, and sometimes violent, conversation about how we commemorate the past. With my colleague, Michael Dickinson, "The Power of Empty Pedestals" in The Bitter Southerner reflects on this moment and its potential for the future.
Indigenous History from Origins to Removal
“Native Southerners tries to rectify prejudices and limitations by focusing on the histories of Indian tribes in the South with an emphasis upon their own stories. Gregory D. Smithers’s use of oral histories is a highlight of his work, and he also covers the ongoing reality of climate change in the development of southern tribes. Many themes emerge, but one—the endless effort to maintain communal identity in the face of colonization, disease, and displacement—is most powerful.” —Tim Kaine, U.S. Senator from Virginia
“Native Southerners is a journey through centuries of southern Native American history. This thoughtful and sensitive narrative offers a compelling perspective on the clashes between Natives and Europeans, which forever changed the lives of the southern Native population.” --Lynette Allston, Chief of the Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia
“Ranging from Virginia to Indian Territory and covering the era of paramount chiefdoms to the post-Removal years, Native Southerners will be the go-to book for teachers and researchers for many years to come. An indispensable work for all scholars of southern Indians.” --Angela Pulley Hudson, author of Creek Paths and Federal Roads: Indians, Settlers, and Slaves and the Making of the American South
“Indigenous actors and voices are front and center in this graceful narrative of the Native South, testifying to their survival and adaptability even as waves of aggressive settlers sought their removal and extinction. Native Southerners is well suited for the classroom and a handy reference for specialists.” —Andrew K. Frank, author of Before the Pioneers: Indians, Settlers, Slaves, and the Founding of Miami