Susan Sleeper-Smith, Professor of History at Michigan State University, will serve as Interim Director of the D’Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies at the Newberry Library, beginning September 1, 2018, and continuing for a full year.
Professor Sleeper-Smith is a distinguished scholar with a long connection to the Newberry. She has twice been awarded long-term fellowships to conduct research in the library’s extensive collections covering Native American history and culture. She also helped found the first consortium in American Indian studies at the Newberry and has served as a liaison to the Newberry Consortium in American Indian Studies for many years.
Her latest book, based in part on deep research at the Newberry, is titled Indigenous Prosperity and American Conquest: Indian Women of the Ohio River Valley, 1690-1792 (Omohundro Institute and University of North Carolina Press, 2018). It employs a material culture lens to explain how the labor of women transformed the economy along the Ohio River. She will speak on the book at the Newberry on September 18, 2018.
In 2013, Sleeper-Smith organized a conference at the Newberry on teaching Native American history and subsequently edited a groundbreaking volume with Juliana Barr, Jean M. O’Brien, Nancy Shoemaker, and Scott Manning Stevens titled Why You Can’t Teach United States History without American Indians (UNC Press, 2015).
Sleeper-Smith will build on the positive work of Dr. Julie Pelletier, Associate Professor of Indigenous Studies at the University of Winnipeg, who undertook several successful initiatives as interim director of the McNickle Center in 2017-18.