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Mark Miller - Southern Utah University. Cedar City, UT, US

Mark Miller Mark Miller

Professor of History | Southern Utah University


Specializing in Native American identity and citizenship, wars of independence, and world civilization


Dr. Mark Miller is the department chair and professor of history at Southern Utah University. 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). He has published articles on race and ethnicity, on indigenous identity and politics in several journals.

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 in, "Meet the Native American Rachel Dolezal," in The Daily Beast:

Dr. Miller has a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University, and masters and a doctorate from the University of Arizona.



Mark Miller Publication Mark Miller Publication



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Industry Expertise (2)

Education/Learning Writing and Editing

Areas of Expertise (17)

History of the LDS Church Spanish and Portuguese Imperialism Wars of Independence Mormon History Native American Identity and Citizenshp Tribal Recognition World Civilization Borderlands American Indian History Race and Ethnicity Indigenous Culture American West Native Americans 20th Century Environmental History Claiming Tribal Identity Aztec and Indigenous Empires Economic History of the American Midwest

Accomplishments (3)

Professor of the Year Award (professional)


Distinguished Educator of the Year (professional)

Southern Utah University

Outstanding Scholarship Award

College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Southern Utah University

Education (3)

Texas A&M University: B.A.

University of Arizona: M.A.

University of Arizona: Ph.D., United States, Native Americans, American West, Borderlands

Minor Field: Latin America

Affiliations (8)

  • American Association of University Professors
  • Western History Association
  • Rocky Mountain Council for Latin American Studies
  • American Society for Ethnohistory
  • Association for Borderlands Studies
  • Phi Alpha Theta
  • Southwestern Social Sciences Association
  • Mormon History Association

Media Appearances (6)

What Makes Someone Native American? One tribe’s long struggle for full recognition

Washington Post  online


Nakai is trying to secure individual benefits without undergoing the arduous process of winning recognition for her entire tribe. (Her case relies on a 1934 federal law, the Indian Reorganization Act, which grants rights and benefits to indigenous people who can prove they have “one-half or more Indian blood.”) For Lumbees as a group, meanwhile, their long struggle to win recognition has been complicated by their history of interracial marriage — even though interracial marriage was common among southeastern tribes prior to the Civil War. Many powerful western tribes have “a perception that the Lumbee are really a mixed-race, mainly African group,” says Mark Miller, a history professor at Southern Utah University who has written extensively about tribal identity. That “original sin,” he says, is a major cause of the Lumbees’ political problems.

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Meet the Native American Rachel Dolezal

Daily Beast  

In 2013, Mark Edwin Miller’s book Claiming Tribal Identity: The Five Tribes and the Politics of Federal Acknowledgment described an alleged confrontation between Smith and Cherokee scholars Patti Jo King and Richard Allen that occurred midway through her career.

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Native Americans in Louisiana swamps seek tribal recognition


Miller argues the Houma case revealed flaws in the tribal recognition process. He said the BIA relied too much on written records, of which none exist for the Houma. The group’s isolation in Southern swamps also hurt its chances.

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The fight for federal recognition

The Times  

Today American Indian leaders are summoning up these ancestral values for a modern day fight — the fight for federal recognition. Without official recognition, tribes are denied federal funding meant to counter the crushing poverty that many American Indian people face. And without federal recognition, tribal people are constantly battling to prove they exist.

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As Year's End Nears, Disappointment

Washington Post  

They have donned their fringed buckskin, bone breastplates and finest headdresses made of turkey feather or porcupine hair. They have danced for the Queen of England. They have smiled for President George W. Bush. At every turn during this Jamestown 400 Commemoration, Virginia's remaining Indian tribes have done everything asked of them.

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Requesting Privacy for a Tribal Ceremony

The Wall Street Journal  

Tribal Ceremony Privacy

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Research Grants (1)

Center of Excellence for Teaching & Learning, Faculty Development Support Fund Grant,

Southern Utah University 

The Provost's Office graciously provides Southern Utah University faculty with two funding grants to support their professional development.

Articles (4)

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

Mark Miller

Who counts as an American Indian? Which groups qualify as Indian tribes? These questions have become increasingly complex in the past several decades, and federal legislation and the rise of tribal-owned casinos have raised the stakes in the ongoing debate. In this revealing study, historian Mark Edwin Miller describes how and why dozens of previously unrecognized tribal groups in the southeastern states have sought, and sometimes won, recognition, often to the dismay of the Five Tribes—the Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks, and Seminoles.

Miller explains how politics, economics, and such slippery issues as tribal and racial identity drive the conflicts between federally recognized tribal entities like the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, and other groups such as the Southeastern Cherokee Confederacy that also seek sovereignty. Battles over which groups can claim authentic Indian identity are fought both within the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Federal Acknowledgment Process and in Atlanta, Montgomery, and other capitals where legislators grant state recognition to Indian-identifying enclaves without consulting federally recognized tribes with similar names.

Miller’s analysis recognizes the arguments on all sides—both the scholars and activists who see tribal affiliation as an individual choice, and the tribal governments that view unrecognized tribes as fraudulent. Groups such as the Lumbees, the Lower Muscogee Creeks, and the Mowa Choctaws, inspired by the civil rights movement and the War on Poverty, have evolved in surprising ways, as have traditional tribal governments.

Describing the significance of casino gambling, the leader of one unrecognized group said, “It’s no longer a matter of red; it’s a matter of green.” Either a positive or a negative development, depending on who is telling the story, the casinos’ economic impact has clouded what were previously issues purely of law, ethics, and justice. Drawing on both documents and personal interviews, Miller unravels the tangled politics of Indian identity and sovereignty. His lively, clearly argued book will be vital reading for tribal leaders, policy makers, and scholars.

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Forgotten Tribes: Unrecognized Indians and the Federal Acknowledgment Process University of Nebraska Press

Mark Miller

The Federal Acknowledgment Process (FAP) is one of the most important and contentious issues facing Native Americans today. A complicated system of criteria and procedures, the FAP is utilized by federal officials to determine whether a Native community qualifies for federal recognition by the United States government. In Forgotten Tribes, Mark Edwin Miller offers a balanced and detailed look at the origins, procedures, and assumptions governing the FAP. His work examines the FAP through the prism of four previously unrecognized tribal communities and their battles to gain indigenous rights under federal law.
Based on a wealth of interviews and original research, Forgotten Tribes features the first in-depth history and overview of the FAP and sheds light on this controversial Native identification policy involving state power over Native peoples and tribal sovereignty.

An O​utsider’s Experience Teaching Mormon History in Utah Religious Educator

Mark Miller

My interest in Utah and Mormonism grew out of my graduate training. I received my PhD in history from the University of Arizona, where I conducted research and published an article on Latter-day Saint colonization and antipolygamy prosecution in territorial Arizona in the Journal of Mormon History.

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The Timbisha Shoshone and the National Park Idea: Building Toward Accommodation and Acknowledgment at Death Valley National Park, 1933-2000. The Journal of the Southwest

Mark Miller

In the early 1970s, tourists flocked to the lavish Furnace Creek Inn in the heart of Death Valley National Monument. With its swimming pools, palm-shaded gardens, and fine dining, the hotel seemed every bit the American version of an Arabian oasis. At the resort, visitors could enjoy the austere desert beauty of Death Valley without experiencing true discomfort or unpleasant encounters with the unforgiving landscape. Patrons of the inn, located near the monument headquarters at Furnace Creek, California, commanded a sweeping view of the snowcapped Panamint Range and white salt flats of the valley floor, a scene framing gray and beige uplands to the west. If visitors strained their eyes, they also could see a small collection of adobe casitas and ramshackle trailers on the southwest edge of the park complex. Although not marked on tourist maps, the hamlet was "Indian Village," home to the Timbisha Shoshone, the original inhabitants of Death Valley. At the rime, the Shoshone enclave was an anomaly in the National Park System; federal officials had removed other native groups from western parks. As such, the village was at the center of a brewing conflict between the National Park Service (NPS) and the Shoshone over the very existence of the enclave, with each party holding decidedly different views of native presence on federal parklands. As the 1970s progressed, Indian Village was important to debates over the proper place of native groups in national parks, what constituted wilderness and "natural" land uses, and conceptions of stewardship, resource management, and preservation. In 2000, the Death Valley conflict ended in an unprecedented way--with the NPS recognizing the Shoshone's traditional land uses, and more importantly, acknowledging their right to live within the park itself. For the first rime in its long history, the NPS agreed to create an Indian reservation within the boundaries of a national park.

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Courses (9)

HIST 1510 World History from 1500 C.E. to Present

This survey examines the political, social, cultural, economic, religious, scientific, and intellectual influences on the development of Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Europe from 1500 to the present. The emphasis is global, comparative, and multicultural.

HIST 1700 American Civilization

The fundamentals of American history including political, economic, and social development of American institutions and ideas.

HIST 2700 United States 1607-1877

A political, social and economic survey of the period, emphasizing the forces for American Independence, the development of the Constitution, the emergence of Jacksonian democracy, the causes and aftermath of the Civil War.

HIST 2710 United States 1877-Present

The emergence of modern corporate enterprise and the growth of the U.S. as a world power and the growing impulse to domestic reform in the 20th century.

HIST 3000 American Indian History

This course covers pre-Columbian history to the present. It emphasizes the ethnohistory of indigenous peoples of North America with focus upon aboriginal cultures, European colonialism, inter-cultural contact, Native adaptation, culture change and contemporary political and social issues

HIST 3700 Latin American Civilization

This course surveys the history of Latin America from the pre-Columbian era to the present. Topics covered include: Aztec and other indigenous empires, Spanish and Portuguese imperialism, slavery, Catholicism, Wars of Independence, nation-building, economic development, Liberal reforms, industrialization, Mexican and other revolutions, the World Wars, postwar modernization, and Neo-Liberalism.

HIST 3810 History of the American West

A history of the American frontier from European exploration to the American trans-Mississippian frontier to the present. Topics include exploration, geography, exploitation, folk migrations, and the political, social, and economic history of the American West

HIST 3870 History of Utah

Geography and native peoples; early explorations; political, social and economic developments to the present

HIST 4890 Internship

Practical experience in history.