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John Truden

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John Truden

John Truden
Graduate Research Assistant


PhD, History, University of Oklahoma, in progress
MA, History, University of Oklahoma, 2018
BA, History, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, 2016

Personal Statement

I am a non-Native historian who hails from suburban America. A descendant of Welsh and more recent Slovenian settlers, I grew up on ancestral Potawatomi lands in Detroit, Michigan and ancestral Cherokee and Catawba lands in Charlotte, North Carolina. While pursuing a bachelor's degree in History at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (on ancestral Coree lands), I discovered (to my deep dismay and horror) my ancestral family's acts of violence towards the Cherokee Nation. Although I was not present during these acts, my ancestors profiteered from them and I feel I must address them through my own work.

As an MA and then PhD student in the Department of History at the University of Oklahoma, I've increasingly found that the most fulfilling and meaningful work my profession has to offer is in direct collaboration with Indigenous communities. I find joy in supporting the efforts of Indigenous people in decolonization initiatives, so I want to focus my teaching and scholarly career on community service and collaboration with tribal governments in Indigenous communities (perhaps through a tribal college, tribal government agency, university, or an NGO). Often, this intersects with local histories. For example, I interned with the Absentee Shawnee Tribe's Cultural Preservation Office in 2019; out of that collaboration, I was able to publish a short 2021 article in Oklahoma Humanities magazine focusing on how the creation of Lake Thunderbird disproportionately displaced the Big Jim Band of Absentee Shawnees ( I hope that this article will one day assist the Absentee Shawnee Tribe in obtaining some form of financial or landed restitution.

In May 2021, I advanced to doctoral candidacy in the Department of History. My dissertation, which focuses on collaborations between settlers and Indigenous people in Oklahoma in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, is titled Neighbors and Friends: Indigenous-Settler Partnerships from Reconstruction Indian Territory to Cold War Oklahoma.

Areas of Interest and Expertise

Indigenous Peoples in North America
Oklahoma History and Culture
Imperialism, Colonialism, and Settler Colonialism
African Histories in the Colonial and Post-Colonial Eras

Honors and Recognition

Dale-Gibson Award, Department of History, University of Oklahoma. 2021.

Thomas J. Gould Prize, Online Journal of Rural Research and Policy. Kansas State University. 2021.

Mantooth-Estep Scholarship in Oklahoma or Latin American History, Department of History, University of Oklahoma. 2019.

Gordon Morris Bakken Scholarship in Western History, Phi Alpha Theta National History Honor Society. 2017.

Thomas Mosely Award: Most Promise for the Future in US History, Department of History, UNC-Wilmington. 2016.

Selected Research and Creative Activity

Upcoming: “Settler Colonialism and Oklahoma History” The Chronicles of Oklahoma 99/2 (Spring 2022).

“The Absentee Shawnees and the True Story of Lake Thunderbird” Oklahoma Humanities (Fall/Winter 2021) 12-16.

“‘You’re in apple land but you are a lemon:’ Connection, Collaboration and Division in Early ‘70s Indian Country,” Online Journal of Rural Research and Policy 15/3 (July 2020).

“Where Cowboys and Indians Meet: A Southern Cheyenne Web of Kinship and the Transnational Cattle Industry, 1877-1885,” Western Historical Quarterly 50/4 (Winter 2019), 363-90.

“Reexamining Dick Wilson: Oglala Politics, Nation Building, and Local Conflict, 1972-1976,” South Dakota History 48/3 (Fall 2018), 173-99.

“The Evans and Clark Families: Borderlands Legacies in Western Oklahoma, 1875-1950,” The Chronicles of Oklahoma 96/2 (Summer 2018), 178-201.

Jo Stewart Randel Grant, Center for the Study of the American West, West Texas A&M University, Canyon, TX. 2019.

Co-Director, Summer Institute for Oklahoma Teachers, Department of History, University of Oklahoma. 2020. [Cancelled].

Student Intern, Fort Phil Kearny State Historic Site, Banner, WY. 2015.

"Solomon Hotema and the Last Witch Killings in America" Metro Library Podcast, April 15, 2021.

“The American Indian Movement in Oklahoma” Metro Library Podcast, August 15, 2020.

Endurance Strategies: Indigenous People in Central Oklahoma during the ‘Orgy of Exploitation’” Oklahoma History Conference. April 2021.

“Tribal Colleges: Opportunities for Teaching, Learning and Innovation with Indigenous Nations,” with Marcus Macktima, OU History Research Workshop, Department of History, University of Oklahoma. December 2019.

“Indigenous Controlled Schools in Oklahoma and Saskatchewan” In David Chang, Chair, “Exception or the Rule? Locating Indian Territory within U.S. History (1803-present),” Western History Conference, Las Vegas, NV. October 2019.

“There is never to be any more Kiowa Indians arrested:” White Bear, Mass Incarceration, and Forced Labor at Fort Sill, 1868-1875, Midwestern Labor and Working-Class History Colloquium, Iowa City, IA. May 2018.

“Where Cowboys and Indians Meet: Relationships and Resources in an Environmental Borderland, 1877-1885” American Society for Ethnohistory Conference, Winnipeg, MB. October 2017

Current Projects

I work as Dr. Amanda Cobb's personal researcher on her book project, Bright Golden Haze.

I am also finishing up my dissertation, Neighbors and Friends: Indigenous-Settler Partnerships from Reconstruction Indian Territory to Cold War Oklahoma