Matt Villeneuve

Position title: Assistant Professor of History and American Indian Studies


Phone: 608.264.1555

Office: 5116 Mosse Humanities
Mailbox: 5033 Mosse Humanities
Curriculum Vitae (pdf) | Website
Office Hours: In person on Wednesdays 10:00am-12:00pm

Matt Villeneuve headshot


I am a scholar of United States history and American Indian Studies, with a particular research focus on Native education. I presently teach courses on American Indian history, Native studies, and Indigenous education. I also teach in the field of American environmental history.

I earned my Ph.D. in history from the University of Michigan. My dissertation, “Instrumental Indians: John Dewey and the Problem of the Frontier for Democracy in Indian Education, 1884-1959,” situates the philosophy of one of America’s foremost philosophers of education and democracy at the intersection of American Indian studies and intellectual history. This study reconsiders the instrumental role of Indian people in the development of Dewey’s method of experimentalism, while interrogating the relationship between schools, citizenship, and democracy through the lens of American pragmatism and settler colonialism.

My scholarship is informed by my Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa descent. My current research interests include the careers of Native instructors in the federal boarding school system; the history of the Morris Indian Industrial School in Morris, Minnesota; and the development of the progressive education movement in the United States through Indian schools.

Following a stint as a Career Diversity Fellow with the American Historical Association in 2018-2020, I am committed to promoting graduate education which treats the history Ph.D. as the driver of diverse careers. My professional and personal interests often converge in various fandoms which include Natives in science fiction and fantasy writing, film, and gaming.


Ph.D. in History, University of Michigan, 2021
M.A. in Social Science, University of Chicago, 2014
B.A. in History and Philosophy, University of Oregon, 2012

Selected Publications

  • “Reconceiving Schooling: Centering Indigenous Experimentation in Indian Education History,” History of Education Quarterly, Vol. 60, No 4. (November 2020): 487-519.
  • “The Patos Island Lighthouse: A Social History of the Maritime Borderland, 1893-1951.” Pacific Northwest Quarterly, Vol. 108, No. 4 (Fall 2017): 134-150.
  • “’The Job Was Big and the Man Doing It Was Still Bigger:’ The Forgotten Role of Thomas B. Watters in Klamath Termination, 1953–1958.” Oregon Historical Quarterly 116 (1): 40–67.

Advisor To:

History Courses