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Jessica LocklearGraduate Student

Jessica is an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. She received a bachelor's degree in history and American Indian Studies from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. She also received a master's degree in history with a public history concentration from Temple University. Jessica has professional experience working in archives and oral history and enjoys finding creative ways for people to engage with historical scholarship.

Her dissertation project focuses on voluntary migrations, or the practice of mobility, carried out by members and ancestors of the present day Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina from 1880 to 1980. While acts of mobility have been carried out by Lumbee people both in highly visible patterns and as individual acts of personal agency, this dissertation places emphasis on mobility as a continuous pattern and defining experience for Lumbees of the twentieth century. Because individual and group identities are formed and negotiated through interactions with other peoples, these moments of voluntary separation from tribal homelands created situations in which Lumbee people had to reckon their identities within and against the ideas and frameworks of race held by people in the places to which they relocated. In focusing on the experiences of Lumbee people who navigated the racial hierarchy away from tribal homelands, she demonstrates the ways that national conversations about race, and specifically ideas about racial purity and whiteness, influenced the development of modern American Indian identity in the twentieth century.

Locklear's research is supported by the 2023/2024 Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Innovation Fellowship.


  • BA, University of North Carolina, Pembroke
  • MA, Temple University

Research Interests

Indigenous History
20th Century U.S. History
Native American Mobility
Race and Identity
Public History

Dissertation Title

"Negotiating Identity Away From Home: Lumbee Mobility, Racial Hierarchies, and the Shaping of Modern American Indian Identity, 1880-1980"

Faculty Advisor

Malinda Maynor Lowery