University of Minnesota
American Studies

American Studies' Home Page

Fall 2015

Scott Hall 316

Office Hours: Tuesday 10am to 3pm or by appointment

(David Chang portrait)

David A Chang

Department of History 1143 HellerH 271 19th Ave S


I am an historian of indigenous people, colonialism, borders and migration in Hawaii and North America, focusing especially on the histories of Native American and Native Hawaiian people. My second book, The World and All the Things Upon It: Native Hawaiian Geographies of Exploration was published in 2016 by the University of Minnesota Press. It speaks to a foundational imperative in Indigenous studies: the need to not just understand Indigenous people from their own perspectives, but to understand the world from their perspectives as well. It traces the ways that K?naka Maoli (Native Hawaiians) explored the outside world and generated understandings of their place in it in the century and half after James Cook stumbled on their islands in 1778. In doing so, this book examines indigenous people as the active agents of global exploration, rather than the passive objects of that exploration, broadening our understanding of geographical knowledge production and power in the context of colonialism. The book draws on Hawaiian-language sources—the stories, songs, chants, texts, and political prose—to reveal Kanaka Maoli reflections on the nature of global geography and their place in it. The Native American and Indigenous Studies Association honored the book with the award for Best Subsequent Book of 2016. My first book, The Color of the Land, argues for the central place of struggles over the ownership of Native American lands in the history of racial and national construction by Creeks, African Americans, and whites in the Creek Nation and eastern Oklahoma. The Color of the Land was awarded the 2010 Theodore Saloutos Prize for best book in agricultural history from the Agricultural History Society and was granted Honorable Mention in the competition for the American Studies Association's 2011 Lora Romero First Book Prize.


  • Indigenous Studies
  • Indigenous History
  • Native Hawaiian History
  • U.S. West
  • Race and Nationalism
  • United States, Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century History
  • United States Colonialism

Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: University of Wisconsin, Madison, 2002.


  • The World and All the Things upon It: Native Hawaiian Geographies of Exploration (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016)
  • “'Made to Be Like the Indian Peoples’: Recognizing Likeness between Native Hawaiians and American Indians, 1832-1923" American Quarterly (Fall 2015).
  • “Borderlands in a World at Sea: Concow Indians, Native Hawaiians, and South Chinese in Indigenous, Global, and National Space, 1860s-1880s,“ Journal of American History 98 (September 2011): 384-403.
  • The Color of the Land: Race, Nation, and the Politics of Land Ownership in Oklahoma, 1832-1929. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010).
  • "Enclosures of Land and Sovereignty: The Allotment of American Indian Lands.," Radical History Review 109 (2010).
  • “An Equal Interest in the Soil: Creek Small-Scale Farming and the Work of Nationhood, 1866-1889,“ American Indian Quarterly 33:1 (2008) 98-130
  • “Where Will the Nation be at Home?: Race, Nationalisms and Emigration Movements in the Creek Nation,“ Tiya Miles and Sharon P. Holland, eds., Crossing Waters, Crossing Worlds: The African Diaspora in Indian Country (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006), 100-120.
  • ““˜Primitive Christianity’ and “˜Modern Socialism’: The Agrarian Socialism of Thomas W. Woodrow,“ Thomas Summerhill, ed., Transatlantic Rebels: Agrarian Radicalism in Transatlantic Perspective (East Lansing, Michigan State University Press, 2004).

Research Activities

  • I am currently working on several projects. “Families, Nations, Worlds: Indigenous British Columbia, Hawaiian Laborers, and the Meaning of Connection” will be a journal article on how kinship between Native Hawaiians and Indigenous communities of coastal British Columbia was created under the fur trade, was complicated by settler colonial national boundaries, and has been invoked in the name of Indigenous politics in recent decades. “Cosmopolitan Nationalisms: Hawaiian, Chinese, and North American Indigenous Nationalisms across Asian and Pacific Spaces” will be a monograph on the circulation of discourses of nationhood among Native Hawaiians, Chinese, and Indigenous people of Canada and the United States from the 1880s to the mid-twentieth century. “Defining Indigeneities: Global Perspectives on the Indigenous” will be an anthology of writing by historians from the U.S., Canada, Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Oceania on the meanings of indigeneity in various national contexts.

Professional Activities

  • Secretary: Native American and Indigenous Studies Association , June 2012 - June 2015
  • Program Committee, American Historical Association Meeting, 2016.
  • Committee on Minority Historians, American Historical Association, 2013-2016.
  • Editorial board, Amerasia
  • Editorial board, Journal of Civil and Human Rights


  • Best Subsequent Book in Native American and Indigenous Studies, Native American and Indigenous Studies Association for The World and All the Things upon It: Native Hawaiian Geographies of Exploration (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010). Awarded June 2012
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, January 2014 - December 2014
  • Grant-in-Aid of Research, Artistry and Scholarship, 2012 - 2014
  • Faculty Residential Fellow, Institute of Advanced Study, University of Minnesota, September 2012 - December 2012
  • Grant-in-Aid of Research, University of Minnesota, 2003 - 2005
  • CHOICE Outstanding Academic Book Award for The Color of the Land: Race, Nation, and the Politics of Land Ownership in Oklahoma, 1832-1930 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010)
  • Theodore Saloutos Prize from the Agricultural History Association for The Color of the Land: Race, Nation, and the Politics of Land Ownership in Oklahoma, 1832-1930 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010)

Courses Taught

  • Hist 1000/3000 - Visions of the Past: Twin Cities History
  • Hist 1302W - Global America
  • Hist 3821 - The United States in the 20th Century to 1945
  • Hist/AmIn 3871 - American Indian History to 1830
  • Hist 5910/Amst 5920 - Race, Colonialism, and the Politics of US History
  • Hist 5910/Hist 8910 - Engendering Race in American History
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