Our Faculty and Staff

Wade Davies

Professor of History


LA 262

Personal Summary

For the past twenty years, Professor Wade Davies has taught courses for both the UM History and Native American Studies departments on Native American history (both colonial and twentieth-century), Indigenous sporting traditions, and research/writing methods. Throughout his teaching career, he has received numerous awards and accolades for his excellence as a classroom instructor and mentor to students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Dr. Davies is also an accomplished scholar in the fields of twentieth-century Native American, U.S. Western, and U.S. Sports history. In 2021, he received the John C. Ewers Award from the Western History Association for his book, Native Hoops: The Rise of American Indian Basketball, 1895-1970, which was the first comprehensive history of Indian country’s premier sport. In that book, Davies described the ways that a sport, plied by Christian missionaries and federal employees as a tool of social control and cultural integration, was instead adopted and transformed by Native boarding school students for their own purposes, ultimately becoming the “Rez ball”-incarnation of the sport that embodies Native American experience, identity, and community. Based on this work, Davies has also appeared in documentary films, including an NBA-TV production featuring the Warriors team of Arlee, Montana. He has also authored or co-authored numerous other books, book chapters, and articles related to twentieth-century Native American and U.S. Sports history, including Healing Ways: Navajo Health Care in the Twentieth Century; “We Are Still Here”: American Indians since 1890; and American Indian Sovereignty and Law: An Annotated Bibliography. His most recent projects include an upcoming edited volume on the history of COVID-19 and other pandemics in Native American communities; a comparative analysis of basketball’s influence on both Native American and overseas populations in the context of American colonialism; and a study of the shady business of promoting barnstorming basketball in the early twentieth-century United States.

As a graduate advisor, Dr. Davies welcomes students focusing on Native American or Western History, and particularly those specializing in the history of Native athletics, health care, or any twentieth-century topics. In addition, he advises students pursuing research interests related to American sports history.

Research Interests

The history of Native sporting traditions, Medical care in Native communities, and the early twentieth-century development of Basketball

Field of Study

Native American History; History of the American West; the History of Sports; History of Healing & Medicine 

Selected Publications

Native Hoops: The Rise of American Indian Basketball, 1895-1970. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2020. -winner of 2021 John C. Ewers Award

"How Native Americans Made Basketball Their Own." Zocalo Public Square (April 15, 2020).

Co-authored with Peter Iverson. We Are Still Here: American Indians since 1890. New York: Wiley, 2015.

"American Indian Sports: A Historical Overview." In American Indians and Popular Culture, Volume 1, Media, Sports, and Politics, ed. Elizabeth DeLaney Hoffman, 243-61. Santa Barbara, CA: Prager, 2012.

"How Boarding School Basketball Became Indian Basketball." In American Indians and Popular Culture, Volume 1, Media, Sports, and Politics, ed. Elizabeth DeLaney Hoffman, 263-78. Santa Barbara, CA: Prager, 2012.

"'We Are Looking for a Splendid Tournament Here': Sharon Mote's Quest to Promote Indian School Basketball, 1927-1929." South Dakota History 41 (Summer 2011): 199-225.

Co-edited with Rich Clow. American Indian Sovereignty and Law: An Annotated Bibliography. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2009.

Co-authored with Rich Clow, “The St. Francis Mission Indians and the National Interscholastic Catholic Basketball Tournament, 1924-1941.” The International Journal of the History of Sport 23 (March 2006): 213-31.

“Western Medicine and Navajo Healing: Conflict and Compromise” In The Politics of Healing, ed. Robert Johnston. New York: Routledge Press, 2004.

“Clyde James”; “Egbert Ward”; “Wilson Charles” In Encyclopedia of Native Americans and Sports, ed. C. Richard King. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharp Inc., 2004.

Healing Ways: Navajo Health Care in the Twentieth Century. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2001.

“Cornell’s Field Seminar in Applied Anthropology: Social Scientists and American Indians in the Post-war Southwest.” Journal of the Southwest, 43 (Autumn 2001): 317-41.

Co-Author with Peter Iverson. “American-Indian Identities in the Twentieth Century.” Organization of American Historians, Magazine of History, 9 (Summer 1995): 15-21.