My work is premised on Cherokee ethics of reciprocity, civic responsibility and perseverance: I am a Cherokee Nation citizen and have served as a Cherokee Nation Sequoyah Commissioner.
I have been a scholar of literacy, race, and culture for two decades and a scholar of Cherokee literacies and empire for fifteen of those years. My scholarship explores the ways individuals and communities use reading and writing to endure and create change. My current research explores Cherokee philosophies of civic mindedness and reevaluates the commitment to civic mindedness at the heart of American literary and rhetorical studies. My next book, Cherokees Writing Resilience: Everyday Literacies of Collective Action will be the first monograph to treat the common writings of Cherokee people as evidence of a lived ethic of individual perseverance and a people's collective resilience. The project is based on a scholarly foundation that includes a corpus of 83 pages of church records, remembrances, speeches, letters, and drafts of governance documents written between 1880-1960 as these are framed in a Keetoowah philosophy.
Along with this book project, I'm currently co-leading a team that is developing a digital archive to support indigenous language learning through the translation of American Indian manuscripts housed in museums and archives around the country in an effort to advance language perseverance and preservation efforts. The Digital Archive of American Indian Languages Preservation and Perseverance (DAILP) project has been generously supported with an Institute for Museums and Library Services: Sparks! Ignition Grant, the Henry Luce Foundation: Indigenous knowledge initiative grant, and a Northeastern University Tier 1 grant.
My first book, The Struggle and the Tools (SUNY 1998), drew on ethnographic fieldwork in an inner city community to demonstrate the institutional reading and writing practices of community members. Research leading to this book earned both the 1997 National Council of Teachers of English CCCC James Berlin Outstanding Dissertation of the Year Award and the 1997 Richard Braddock Award. My second book, The Cherokee Syllabary: Writing the People's Perseverance (University of Oklahoma Press, 2012), traced the instrumental, cultural and historical legacy of the Cherokee syllabary. With both my sole-authored books, my goal has been to provide evidence of the commonplace reading and writing practices that make for individual agency and community strength particularly during times of crisis.
My work as a scholar of literacy includes editorial positions as well as publication of articles and book chapters. I have published two co-edited collections: Landmark Essays on Rhetorics of Difference, with Damián Baca and Jonathan Osborne (Routledge 2019) and Literacies: A Critical Sourcebook, 2nd edition, with Christina Haas and Mike Rose (Macmillan 2020). Mary Juzwik and I served as Co-Editors of Research in the Teaching of English, the premiere research journal of the National Council of Teachers of English, from 2012-2017. I have published over 60 articles, book chapters, and essays — a number of them co-authored with students and early career scholars. In 2017, I received the Distinguished Engaged Scholar Award from the Conference on Community Writing. I was elected Chair of the Coalition for Community Writing (2019-2021) by the Coalition for Community Writing Advisory Board.
I am currently Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Diversity and Inclusion in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities at Northeastern University, I facilitate the hiring, retention, mentoring, and promotion of colleagues and provide leadership in the college through initiatives designed to promote and sustain a diverse, inclusive, and civil campus. I am Dean's Professor of Civic Sustainability and Professor of English in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities at Northeastern University.