Gregory D. Smithers

Gregory Smithers is professor of History at Virginia Commonwealth University and a British Academy Global Professor. He specializes in Native American history and culture from the eighteenth century to the present, with an emphasis on the Cherokee people and their Indigenous and non-Indigenous neighbors in the Native South. Smithers' research also explores the history of climate change through the lens of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and tackles questions about how and why people form individual and collective identities. He is the author of numerous books, the most recent being Native Southerners: Indigenous History from Origins to Removal (2019) and The Cherokee Diaspora: An Indigenous History of Migration, Resettlement, and Identity (2015).

OAH Lectures by Gregory D. Smithers

In the 1960s and 1970s, Cherokee people led an environmental movement. Their objective was to stop the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) from constructing the Tellico Dam along a sleepy section of the Little Tennessee River. This lecture explores the forgotten history of Cherokee resistance to dam construction. As the lecture reveals, that resistance focused not only on efforts to "save the Little T" but inspired a generation of Cherokee people and their allies to work together in a bid to prevent the TVA from flooding thousands of years of Cherokee history and culture.

Long before the Indigenous people of southeastern North America encountered Europeans and Africans, they established communities with clear social and political hierarchies and rich cultural traditions. This lecture brings the world of Native Southerners to life in this sweeping narrative of American Indian history in the Southeast from the time before European colonialism to the Trail of Tears and beyond. Spanning territory reaching from modern-day Louisiana and Arkansas to the Atlantic coast, Native Southerners focuses on the stories of the Cherokees, Creeks, Seminoles, Creeks, Chickasaws, and Choctaws, as well as smaller Native communities like the Nottoways, Occaneechis, Haliwa-Saponis, Catawbas, and Caddos.


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