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Letter from the Chair

Kyle T Mays


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Kyle is a PhD candidate in the Department of History at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Being of both Black and Saginaw Chippewa heritage, he is interested in questions regarding race and community, Indigeneity in the urban place, and the construction of race and gender in Indigenous Hip Hop culture. Kyle, though, is more broadly interested in construction of gender and race in urban places, illustrating how Indigenous peoples were not immigrants to cities, but rather important co-constructors of the urban place in places such as modern Detroit.

Kyle Mays is a managing editor for the new Native American and Indigenous Studies Journal, published by the University of Minnesota Press with editors Jean M. O'Brien (White Earth Ojibwa) and Robert A. Warrior (Osage).

Kyle is currently conducting dissertation research in Detroit for the 2013-2014 Academic year.

Specializations / Research Interest(s)

  • Urban Indigenous Histories
  • Afro-Indigenous Studies
  • Modern U.S. History
  • Race and Ethnicity (Construction of race in sports and Hip Hop Studies)
  • Indigenous Hip Hop

Research Description

  • Kyle is a transdisciplinary scholar who is interested in questions of the past and the present. He is specifically interested in the experiences of Indigenous peoples in urban places, and the experience of contemporary Indigenous youth and how they engage with and produce urban culture, especially Hip Hop.

    His dissertation titled, "And We Shall Remain: Reclaiming Detroit as an Indigenous Space, 1837-1994," examines the experience of Indigenous peoples in modern Detroit. He has been awarded a Newberry Consortium on American Indian Studies Graduate Student Fellowship for the Summer 2013, and is currently conducting research on the project for the 2013-2014 academic year.


  • B.A., Social Relations and Policy, James Madison College, Michigan State University
  • M.A., History, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Distinctions / Awards

  • University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Graduate College Fellowship Recipient; HASTAC Scholar; Summer Pre-Doctoral Institute participant (received exemplary attitude toward scholarship award); Newberry Consortium in American Indian Studies Graduate Student Seminar participant (2010); Michigan State University McNair Scholars program (2007-2008); Summer Research Opportunities Programs (2007 and 2008)


Journal Articles

  • "Transnational Progressivism: African Americans, Native Americans, and the Universal Races Congress of 1911." American Indian Quarterly and SAIL 25.2 (2013): 243-261.


  • Rev. of Articulate While Black: Barack Obama, Language, and Race in the U.S., by H. Samy Alim and Geneva Smitherman. Spectrum: A Journal on Black Men 1.2 (2013): 114-116.