Lucas Kelley

Assistant Professor of History


B.A. Centre College
M.A. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Ph.D. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Professor Lucas Kelley joined the Valparaiso History Department in 2021 after receiving his Ph.D. in History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

He is a historian of Native American history and the nineteenth-century United States. Dr. Kelley offers a number of American history courses, including US History to 1877, the U.S. Civil War, Baseball History, and Native American History. He is especially excited to connect Valpo students to the local history of Northwest Indiana and the Great Lakes Region. Professor Kelley’s research interests include Cherokee and Chickasaw history, the Appalachian South, and race and citizenship in the nineteenth-century United States. His current book project, tentatively entitled “‘It is Right to Mark Our Boundaries on the Map’: Native Sovereignty and American Empire in the Tennessee and Cumberland Valleys,” is a study of how Chickasaws and Cherokees appropriated legal and social concepts from white Americans to defend their territory from the forces of the settler state. He also is working on additional projects involving the disfranchisement of free men of color in antebellum North Carolina and the connection between public universities and Native dispossession.


“Manifest Destiny’s Prehistory: The Polk Family’s Colonization of Indigenous Lands along the Duck River in Early Tennessee.” In James K. Polk and His Time, edited by Michael David Cohen. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2022. (in press)

“Clear Boundaries of Shared Territory: Chickasaw and Cherokee Resistance to American Colonization, 1785-1816.” Transactions of the American Philosophical Society. 2021.

“Without Profit from Stolen Indigenous Lands, UNC Would Have Gone Broke 100 Years Ago,” coauthored with Garrett Wright. Scalawag Magazine. September 15, 2020. “A Divided State in a Divided Nation: An Exploration of East Tennessee’s Support for the Union in the Secession Crisis of 1860-1861.” Journal of East Tennessee History 84 (2013): 3-22.