Alyssa Mt. Pleasant is an assistant professor of Native American studies at the University at Buffalo. She works in the field of American Indian history, focusing on Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) history during the colonial period and early American republic. Her most recent publication, a chapter titled “Independence for Whom? Expansion and Conflict in the Northeast and Northwest,” argued that Haudenosaunee responses to US expansionism are best understood through the lens of indigenous philosophies of governance, diplomacy, and intercultural relations that are embedded in their Great Law of Peace.
While at Radcliffe, Mt. Pleasant is writing a book, provisionally titled “After the Whirlwind: Haudenosaunee People and the Emergence of US Settler Colonialism.” This work is a micro-historical study of the Buffalo Creek reservation that simultaneously tracks processes of recovery and resistance in the wake of the Revolutionary War. Drawing on the documentary and material record as well as on oral traditions, Mt. Pleasant argues that Haudenosaunee people relied on powerful indigenous philosophies as they developed strategies for confronting US settler colonialism as it emerged through treaty negotiations, land cessions, formal schooling, and other efforts to permanently eliminate American Indian nations.
Mt. Pleasant earned her bachelor’s at Barnard College, Columbia University, and her master’s and doctorate at Cornell University. Her research has been supported by fellowships from the Newberry, the Smithsonian Institution, and Yale University. She also benefited from an extended affiliation with the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.