Ryan Hall

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Ryan Hall

Assistant Professor of Native American Studies and History

Department/Office Information

324 Alumni Hall

Ryan Hall is an historian of the North American West, in particular Native American and borderlands history.  His first book, Beneath the Backbone of the World: Blackfoot People and the North American Borderlands, 1720-1877, was a history of the Blackfoot (Niitsitapi) people of what is now Montana and Alberta during the fur trade era.  It told the story of how Blackfoot people used the ancient geography of their homelands to preserve their way of life during the chaotic early years of American and Canadian expansion.

His current research examines the long history of corruption and theft in America's "Indian Affairs" administration and asks how graft shaped U.S. westward expansion and the Indigenous experience during the nineteenth century.  To learn more about Professor Hall's past and current research, listen to his recent podcast interview with the New Books Network.

Prior to coming to Colgate, Professor Hall received his Ph.D. from Yale University and taught at the University of Toronto and Northern Arizona University.  This spring he is teaching CORE131: Native Oklahoma, HIST/NAST243: Native American History, and HIST/NAST360: Borderlands of North America.

MA 2010, MPhil 2011, PhD 2015, Yale University

BA 2008, University of Oklahoma

book cover


Beneath the Backbone of the World: Blackfoot People and the North American Borderlands, 1720-1877. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2020.

Articles and Chapters:

"Patterns of Plunder: Corruption and the Failure of the Indian Reservation System, 1851-1887," The Western Historical Quarterly 55, no. 1 (Spring 2024): 21-38.

"Last Refuge: Indigenous Refugees and the Making of Canada's Numbered Treaties," in Challenging Borders: Contingencies and Consequences, eds. Shelia McManus, Julie Young, and Paul McKenzie-Jones (Edmonton: Athabasca University Press, 2024), ch. 6.

"Chaos and Conquest: The Civil War and Indigenous Crisis on the Upper Missouri, 1861-1865," The Journal of the Civil War Era 12, no. 2 (June 2022): 147-72.

"Negotiating Sovereignty: U.S. and Canadian Colonialisms on the Northwest Plains, 1855-1877," in Remaking North American Sovereignty: State Transformation in the 1860s, eds. Frank Towers and Jewel Spangler (New York: Fordham University Press, 2020), 132-52.

"Before the Medicine Line: Blackfoot Trade Strategy and the Emergence of the Northwest Plains Borderlands, 1818-1846," The Pacific Historical Review 86, no. 3 (August 2017): 381-406.

"The Divergent Wests of Isaac Stevens and Lame Bull: Finding Motive in the 1855 Blackfoot Treaty," The Pacific Northwest Quarterly 105, no. 3 (Summer 2014): 107-21.

"Struggle and Survival in Sallisaw: Revisiting John Steinbeck's Oklahoma," Agricultural History 86, no. 3 (Summer 2012): 33-56.

Review Essays and Book Reviews:

"Border History is Indigenous History," Reviews in American History 50, no. 2 (June 2022): 160-67.

Book reviews in The Historian, The Journal of the Early Republic, Southern California Quarterly, H-EarlyAmerica, The Canadian Journal of History, The Western Historical QuarterlyAmerican Indian Quarterly, The Pacific Historical Review, The Journal of Family History, The Pacific Northwest QuarterlyMontana: The Magazine of Western History, The New Mexico Historical Review, and Entangled Religions

  • Finalist, 2021 Spur Awards (Best Historical Nonfiction Book), Western Writers of America
  • Fulbright Canada Research Chair in Social and Cultural History of Western North America, The University of Calgary (Fall 2017)
  • Frederick W. Beinecke Dissertation Prize, Yale University (2015)
  • Vernon Carstensen Memorial Award (Best article in Agricultural History), Agricultural History Society (2013)
  • Newberry Library Consortium in American Indian Studies Research Fellowship (2013)
  • Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Research Fellowship (2012)
  • Canadian Studies Doctoral Student Research Grant, International Council for Canadian Studies (2011)
  • CORE 131: Native Oklahoma
  • CORE 150: Native People of the Great Plains
  • FSEM 188 and HIST 223: The American West
  • HIST/NAST 243: Native American History
  • HIST/NAST 356: Global Indigenous History
  • HIST/NAST 360: Borderlands of North America
  • HIST 400: Thematic Seminar: The Arts of Resistance
  • HIST 490: Honors Seminar in History

"Centering Native Lands," profile in Colgate Research, November 2022.

Podcast Interview, New Books in the American West, May 2022

Podcast Interview, New Books in Native American Studies, August 2020

Podcast Interview, 13: A Colgate University Podcast, March 2020