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Aaron Luedtke

Aaron Luedtke

Contact Information:

Aaron Luedtke

Assistant Professor, History Department

Faculty Affiliate, Native American and Indigenous Studies Program

Faculty Affiliate, Lender Center for Social Justice

Faculty Affiliate, Research for Social Action and Equity (RISE) Center, University of Michigan


HST 300/NAT 300 – Native American History from Pre-colonialism to 1830

HST 300/NAT 300 – Native American History from 1830 to the Present

HST 300/NAT 300 – History of Indigenous Representation in Film and Literature

HST 300/NAT 300/IRP 300 – Native America and the World

HST 600 – Global Perspectives on Indigeneity and Colonialism 

Highest degree earned

Ph.D., Michigan State University, 2021


Aaron Luedtke (Suquamish and Duwamish descent) is a historian of the United States, Native America and global Indigeneity. His work sits at the interdisciplinary crossroads of U.S. history and Native American studies. Luedtke's teaching and scholarship focus mostly on combatting the ongoing effects of settler colonialism, particularly the erasure and dehumanization of Native peoples that is so engrained in the American national narrative.

In his work, Luedtke explores the ways that the legacy of colonialism seeks to not only dispossess Native peoples of their lands, but to destroy all traces of their cultural continuity through time. So long as Native peoples survive and remain culturally intact, the work of settler colonialism can never be finished.

Luedtke's current book project, "Writing Against the Frontier: Native Resilience Amidst the American Impulse to Erase," explores twin phenomena in the nineteenth-century United States. As a part of the process of early national identity formation, policy makers, writers and early historians penned a national narrative that both justified the violence of genocide by dehumanizing Native peoples while also erasing them from existence. However, Native intellectuals constantly disproved the widely believed myths of Native inferiority and disappearance by picking up the pen and writing themselves back into the narrative.

"Writing Against the Frontier" focuses on the tension between the memorialization of the settler experience and the survivance of Native peoples in the lower Great Lakes region that encompasses Iroquoia in Central and Western New York, Upper Canada (present-day Ontario), Southern Michigan and the Chicago area.

Luedtke's present and future work also focuses on the violence of erasure and dehumanization that continue to occur in the public consciousness. The effects of this narrative violence are felt in the present as Native peoples, their culture, their history and their issues lack the public awareness, empathy and support they need for positive social action and policy change.

A clear example of this is the 2022 investigative report on the effects of United States Indian boarding schools by the Department of the Interior. The report concludes, “that the United States directly targeted American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian children in the pursuit of a policy of cultural assimilation that coincided with Indian territorial dispossession.” Yet, U.S. public media outlets such as 60 Minutes have chosen to target the Canadian First Nations Residential School experience with their investigative reporting. Without proper acknowledgment of the ongoing legacy of violence of colonialism in the United States, there can be no path toward healing and reconciliation.

Luedtke is also a member of the Syracuse University group, Not in the Books. This group focuses on creating and fostering bridges between the SU campus community and the Onondaga Nation and other Haudenosaunee groups. In the 2022-23 academic year, Not in the Books facilitated a lecture series at the Skä·nońh center called, “Listen to the Elders.” This series transported SU students, faculty, staff and administrators to the center in Liverpool to hear Onondaga Bear Clan Mother Freida Jacques share traditional knowledge about Haudenosaunee culture and history.

Before joining SU, Luedtke spent a year as a research scientist and postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan in the Research for Indigenous Social Action and Equity (RISE) center. There he worked with an interdisciplinary team to conduct studies to accumulate empirical data on the effects of Native erasure and dehumanization to help suggest and implement programs of social change that will benefit Native groups across the United States. He has remained a faculty affiliate of RISE, and he is still engaged in research studies to reduce racism toward Native peoples. 

Areas of Expertise

United States history and Native American and Indigenous studies engaging specifically with the intersection of settler colonialism theory and Native survivance

Research Grant Awards and Projects

Aaron’s research has benefited from generous support by numerous groups. Most recently, Aaron’s work on “Listen to the Elders” was awarded funding support from the Tenth Decade Grant by the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at SU, a mini grant from the Engaged Humanities Network at SU, and a co-curricular funding grant from the SU Student Association. Aaron has also received a research grant from RISE to conduct a study on a Haudenosaunee-authored curriculum that was produced in the mid-late 1970s at the request of the New York State Board of Education but was never published or utilized in NY public schools.