Writing

I write narrative nonfiction for popular and scholarly audiences. Through intimate portraits and micro-histories, my writing explores the migrations of marginalized peoples who, in the face of state-induced violence and dispossession, made homes in some of the most rugged landscapes of the North American West. Read about my book project and essays here.

Book Project

My current book project, titled No Man’s Land: The Great Migration on Native Ground in a Forgotten Corner of the American West, reveals fine-grained, interwoven histories of Native Americans, African Americans, and Anglos who, since the late-nineteenth century, co-inhabited a tract of Colorado River bottomlands near the U.S.- Mexico border called No Man’s Land. Through archival and oral history research at over 20 archives, libraries, and museums in the U.S. and Mexico, this project focuses on the dual legacies of America’s original sins—slavery and conquest—that collided on No Man’s Land. Because the river rendered its jurisdiction uncertain, Quechan Indians attempted to reclaim land that had previously been stolen by the U.S. government from their reservation—the same land on which African American migrants squatted starting in 1920 to escape racial violence in their search for a promised land. Anglo farmers later attempted to capitalize on the agricultural improvements the African American community had made. The result was a century of conflict, which culminated in an armed standoff in 1970 and linger to this day. Through an intimate portrait of this tiny, unsettled backwater of the American West, No Man’s Land argues that the Great Migration was also at times a process of Native dispossession caused by the complexities of settler colonialism, with legacies for multiracial democracy that linger to this day.


Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

Essays, Articles, and Op-Eds

“‘Whenever We Exist on Any Land, We Know it is Our Country’: Cocopa Mobility and the Colorado River in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands” (forthcoming from the Western Historical Quarterly in January 2023)

Review of Maurice Crandall, These People Have Always Been a Republic: Indigenous Electorates in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands, 1598-1912 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2019) in Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (April 2021)

John Williams, Kevin Burke, Michael Crossley, Daniel Grant, and Volker Radeloff. “Land-use and climatic causes of environmental novelty in Wisconsin since 1890.” Ecological Applications vol. 29, no. 7

With or without a wall, the border isn’t where you think it is.The Washington Post, February 28, 2021