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Ole Miss doctoral student attends NEH Institute in Washington, D.C.

By Edwin Smith

University of Mississippi

A doctoral student in history at the University of Mississippi is among two graduate students nationally studying at a prestigious institute this summer in Washington, D.C.

Justin I. Rogers of Hurdle Mills, North Carolina, is exploring how Presbyterian missionaries influenced Native Americans in the Mid-South. He is attending “On Native Grounds: Studies of Native American Histories and the Land,” a three-week institute funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and co-sponsored by the Community College Humanities Association and the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress.

Twenty-two faculty, including the two graduate students, from across the nation and from diverse humanities disciplines are working to enhance their teaching and research through the residency at the Library of Congress.

“I felt honored to be selected as one of two graduate students from across the nation and across humanities disciplines for this institute, and I was eager to take full advantage of the opportunities it presented to me,” Rogers said.

Ten visiting scholars in the field of Native American ethnohistory are sharing their groundbreaking research concerning Native American issues of land, sovereignty, culture and identity. Summer fellows have access to all collections.

Rogers’ research analyzes Presbyterian missions to Chickasaw Indians in North Mississippi, southwestern Tennessee and northwestern Alabama. He also examines how elite Chickasaws and Euro-Americans helped encode racial distinctions into court precedent and Mississippi law that reinforced associations of blackness with enslavement and whiteness with property holding during the 1820s and 1830s.

“Through the seminar discussions, I have been reminded about the importance of studying Native Americans, African-Americans, white Americans and race in the South, which I plan to do in my dissertation,” he said.