Professional Information

Professor Miller has been teaching at SUU since 2006.   He is from San Antonio, Texas, and has spent most of his life in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands.  He has a B.A. from Texas A&M University, an M.A. from the University of Arizona, and a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona.  His research and teaching specialties include United States History, American West, Borderlands, Indigenous Culture and History, World Civilization, and Latin America. He has published articles and books on modern American Indian History, most recently Forgotten Tribes (2006) and Claiming Tribal Identity (2013).  Beyond exploring tribal recognition politics and issues of tribal authenticity, Claiming Tribal Identity provides an in-depth history of the phenomenon of individuals and communities claiming Cherokee identity.  It furnishes insights into current controversies such as Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren's claiming Cherokee heritage, writers Ward Churchill and Andrea Smith's disputed claims to Cherokee identity, and larger issues of "playing Indian," and so-called Indian "wannabes" and "pretendians."

Dr.  Miller has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and other publications on issues of tribal recognition.  In the past several years his research on the United Houma Nation and other Louisiana tribes was noted in the AP Business Insider, AP The Big Story, and the Shreveport Times.  Most recently his work was quoted regarding the Andrea Smith controversy in "Meet the Native American Rachel Dolezal," in The Daily Beast:

In recent years he has served as consultant and been interviewed for projects such as the PBS film, Beyond Recognition, by Michelle Grace Steinberg, which premiered on KRCB, California, November 23, 2014:

He was a consultant and interviewee for the program, “BP Five Years Later: Deepwater Horizon and the Cost of Oil,” on the impact of this disaster on the United Houma Nation of Louisiana, that aired, April 2015, on Making Contact: Radio Stories and Voices to Take Action 

He was promoted to Full Professor of History (2014).  He is an avid traveler and explorer of the outdoors, and particularly loves traveling the back roads of the West and Mexico.  Dr. Miller is married to Gia DeGiovanni Miller and has three young children.

Mark's books:

Claiming Tribal Identity: The Five Tribes and the Politics of Federal Acknowledgment, University of Oklahoma Press, 2013


Claiming Tribal Identity is a highly successful, and very brave, effort by Mark Miller to explain why the Five Tribes of Oklahoma support the controversial Bureau of Indian Affairs Federal Acknowledgment Process . . . Mark Miller is the right one for this task.  He is an historian with a strong earlier book, and now he has zeroed in on the problem of false claims.  Miller’s work is an exceptional history of U.S. public policy generally and the internal politics surrounding Indian issues more specifically.” Bruce Ganville Miller, New Mexico Historical Review


“This is a refreshing look at the intricate politics not just of federal acknowledgment of unrecognized tribes (in the Southeast, primarily), but of the process of negotiating identity within group . . . Engaging, enlightening, and provocative, this is bound to become canonical in this field . . . Essential.” C.R. Kasee, Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries


“[Miller] has established himself as perhaps the leading authority on the complicated, sometimes flawed, and often politicized federal acknowledgment system…this important and timely book deserves a wide audience.” Thomas Cowger, Western Historical Quarterly


“Miller’s forthright venture into this contested terrain provides much-needed insight into the many competing motivations that undergird these debates.  His book is essential reading not only for scholars of Native America but also for anyone interested in southern identity politics.” Mikaela H. Adams, The Journal of Southern History

Forgotten Tribes: Unrecognized Indians and the Federal Acknowledgment Process, University of Nebraska Press, 2004; Bison Books, 2006.,671170.aspx


“Miller’s well-researched book is a significant contribution to the literature on the federal acknowledgment process (FAP). . . . The book couples rigorous empirical research with a critique of cultural constructions of Indian identity.”—American Historical Review


“The case studies form a valuable empirical critique of the several avenues of recognition, and their multiplicity helps strengthen Miller's overall criticism that the current situation remains only marginally more hopeful or fair than what it was meant to replace. Throughout Forgotten Tribes, the documentation is careful and thorough, and the text is lively and well written.”—Journal of Anthropological Research


"An important book that should be the cause of great discomfort for us all. . . . Highly original and well-executed."—Daniel M. Cobb, Western Historical Quarterly


“What could be overwhelming and uninteresting bureaucratic, political, and petty personal minutiae is handled very well by Miller's insight, concise writing, and chapter organization.”—Choice


"As you read [Miller's] well-researched book, you may feel the beginnings of a headache creeping into your skull along with his words, as you take in the bureaucratic complexities and mind-boggling, intricate ambiguities of the federal acknowledgment process. This is no fault of Miller's—rather, it is a testament to his achievement in imparting a sense of the human impact of this process."—Southwestern Mission Research Center


"This book will readily find its way onto lists of required texts for course work in federal Indian law and policy. It will also serve as a handbook and cautionary guide to tribal groups enmeshed in, or contemplating entering, the federal acknowledgement process. . . . Miller's book will serve as the standard on the topic for some time to come." —Victoria Smith, Journal of Arizona History


“Miller’s exhaustive historical work, thorough interviews, and persuasive analysis all serve to document the troubles with acknowledgment in a powerful, and potentially enlightening, way. . . . I enthusiastically recommend this book for anthropologists interested in tribal peoples and indigenous politics, historians interested in the late 1990s, political scientists investigating bureaucratic decision-making as well as state and local governments, and anyone interested in American Indian politics, culture, and survival.”—Renee Ann Cramer, American Studies



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