The Ph.D. Program in History

at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York

GC Events

4/11 – In Conversation: Nicole Eustace & Ned Blackhawk

The story of our nation’s founding casts European settlers as a singular, heavily armed entity against whom America’s Indians stood no chance. In reality, Native People exerted enormous influence over relations among French, Dutch, and English newcomers. Before and after the American Revolution, Central New York and Eastern Canada’s Haudenosaunee-speaking Iroquois Confederacy were particularly prominent. The strength of the six nations’ alliance—based on a shared system of clans and chieftainships, representative councils, and governing practices—equipped them to survive threats and stake claim to economic, military, and political power that was global in reach. In his 2023 book, The Rediscovery of America, Ned Blackhawk recounts a group of elders’ 1701 diplomatic voyage to London and the portraits painted in their honor. “Iroquois affairs concerned European leaders so much that Iroquois leaders, not New France’s founder, would be invited to sit for portraiture,” he writes.

Powers granted to the new government by the American Constitution slowly sapped Indigenous tribes of theirs. Nonetheless, the enduring influence of the Haudenosaunee can’t be overstated. In her 2021 book, Covered with Night, Nicole Eustace writes of the Haudenosaunee and British-penned Treaty of 1722—the oldest continuously recognized treaty in U.S. law—which represented a pivotal turning point in world history in its eschewal of punitive justice precedented on European policy, in favor of a reparative form of justice advocated by the Haudenosaunee. Close correspondence between tribal leaders and people including Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, meanwhile, reveals the extent to which American Democracy is indebted to the guidance and modeled governance of the Iroquois Confederacy.

Humanities New York welcomes Ned Blackhawk and Nicole Eustace for a conversation stemming from points of overlap in their work, which share in common the imperative to rewire the American imagination as it relates to Indigenous history. Eustace and Blackhawk will address the Haudenosaunee as power players in early U.S. history, no less significant than the “Founding Fathers” in their contributions to American democracy as we know it today.

Sponsored by Humanities New York

Thursday, April 11 · 6 – 7:30pm EDT

Elebash Recital Hall, The Graduate Center

Register here – 

About the Speakers

Nicole Eustace is the Julius Silver Family Professor of History at New York University.

Eustace studies culture, politics, and power in the early modern Atlantic world, with a focus on settler colonialism in 18th-century North America and the early United States.
Professor Eustace’s book Covered with Night: A Story of Murder and Indigenous Justice in Early America won a 2022 Pulitzer Prize in History. In addition, the book was a 2021 Finalist for the National Book Award for Nonfiction and won the 2022 Francis Parkman Prize, for a nonfiction work of American history distinguished by its literary merit. That citation notes: “Eustace  exquisitely evokes the thought-and-sentiment worlds of both the Indigenes and the colonists who compose her story.” Covered with Night was also named one of the best books of the year by Time Magazine, the Boston Globe, Smithsonian Magazine, NPR and others. Eustace is also the author of 1812: War and the Passions of Patriotism and Passion is the Gale: Emotion, Power and the  Coming of the American Revolution and has published numerous articles,reviews, and edited volumes.

A member of NYU’s faculty since 2002, Professor Eustace directs the Atlantic History Workshop and is past director of the NYU Women and Gender Program. Presently, she is
the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Department of History. Eustace holds a BA in history, with distinction, from Yale University and a PhD in history from the University of Pennsylvania.

Ned Blackhawk is the Howard R. Lamar Professor of History and American Studies at Yale University.

His National Book Award-winning 2023 book, The Rediscovery of America: Native Peoples and the Unmaking of U.S. History is a sweeping and overdue retelling of U.S. history that recognizes that Native Americans are essential to understanding the evolution of modern America. The Wall Street Journal praised The Rediscovery of America as: “Eloquent and comprehensive. . . . In the book’s sweeping synthesis, standard flashpoints of U.S. history take on new meaning.” Additionally, the book was a National Bestseller and appeared in “Best of” year-end lists published by The New Yorker, The New York Times, the Washington Post, and numerous other outlets.

A graduate of McGill University, Blackhawk holds graduate degrees in History from UCLA and the University of Washington and is the author of Violence over the Land: Indians and Empires in the early American West (Harvard, 2006), a study of the American Great Basin that garnered half a dozen professional prizes, including the Frederick Jackson Turner Prize from the Organization of American Historians. In addition to serving in professional associations and on the editorial boards of American Quarterly and Ethnohistory, Professor Blackhawk has led the establishment of two fellowships, one for American Indian Students to attend the Western History Association’s annual conference, the other for doctoral students working on American Indian Studies dissertations at Yale named after Henry Roe Cloud (Winnebago, Class of 1910).

Blackhawk joined the staff of Yale University in 2009, where he is currently the faculty coordinator for the Yale Group for the Study of Native America. He is an enrolled member of the Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians of Nevada.

About the American Imagination Series

The American Imagination series is a live, biannual event featuring a pair of prominent people from the Humanities field—artists, activists, scholars, authors, and others—in conversation with each other and with the audience about an important civic or cultural issue. Through dialogue and critical thinking, we aim to better understand one another and the challenges that face us, while examining how we can respond to them.