Zada Ballew


Advisor: Stephen Kantrowitz

Zada Ballew


I study Native American and United States history through the lenses of sovereignty, nationalism, and anticolonialism. My research explores the business history of my tribal nation, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, from treaties to per capita payments. It analyzes how my ancestors navigated capitalism, wealth, and poverty, and considers the strategies they used to withstand the complete theft of their homelands and ubiquitous challenges to their sovereignty. In addition to my work at UW-Madison, I serve as a historical consultant for Native American and Indigenous Initiatives at the University of Notre Dame.


M.A., U.S./North American History, University of Wisconsin – Madison, 2021
B.A., Economics and Psychology, University of Notre Dame, 2019


  • U.S./North American History

MA Title

  • “‘The Indian Side of the Question’: Settling the Story of Potawatomi Removal in the Twentieth Century Midwest”

Working Dissertation Title

  • “Negotiating Settlement: The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians and the Business of Tribal Nationalism, 1833-202”

Selected Publications

Selected Awards

  • Graduate Student Essay Prize, Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (SHGAPE), 2022
  • Early Excellence Teaching Assistant Award, University of Wisconsin – Madison, 2021
  • Kate Everest Levi Second-Year Paper Prize, University of Wisconsin – Madison, 2021

Courses Taught as TA

  • History 109 – Who is an American? with Prof. Stephen Kantrowitz, Fall 2021
  • History 393 – Slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction, 1848-1877 with Prof. Stephen Kantrowitz, Spring 2022
  • History 460 – American Environmental History with Prof. William Cronon, Fall 2020
  • History 490 – American Indian History with Prof. Sasha Maria Suarez, Spring 2021