Our Faculty and Staff

Eric Zimmer

Faculty Affiliate

Personal Summary

Dr. Eric Zimmer was the 2022-2023 A.B. Hammond Visiting Assistant Professor of Western United States History at the University of Montana. He is currently the Director of Philanthropy at the Black Hills Area Community Foundation. Prior to joining the faculty in Missoula, he spent six years as a senior historian at the consulting firm Vantage Point Historical Services, Inc. There, he worked on a variety of narrative, digital, oral, and exhibit-based projects for clients across the United States. From 2015 to 2023, Zimmer was a volunteer historian for the Rapid City Indian Boarding School Lands Project, an Indigenous-led community research project in his home town of Rapid City, South Dakota. 

His most recent book, Red Earth Nation: A History of the Meskwaki Settlement will be available from the Environment in Modern North American series at the University of Oklahoma Press in August 2024. That project explores the remarkable story of the Meskwaki Nation, a Native American tribe in Iowa that bought back some of its homeland in 1857. The Meskwaki story offers context and insight for anyone interested in the modern movement to reclaim Indigenous lands in the US and elsewhere.

Zimmer's scholarship and the collaborative projects with which he is affiliated have received high honors from the Western History Association, the Midwestern History Association, the National Council on Public History, the American Society for Environmental History, and more. He has served as the primary grant author or co-PI on several projects, securing funding support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Windrose Fund, Monument Lab, the American Philosophical Society, the American Historical Association, the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research at the University of Iowa. 

Although he no longer teaches at UM, Zimmer remains a resource for students and colleagues and encourages anyone to reach out. 


  • 2016 - PhD, University of Iowa
  • 2016 - Graduate Certificate in American Indian and Native Studies, University of Iowa
  • 2012 - MA, University of Iowa
  • 2010 - BS (Honors) Black Hills State University

Field of Study

  • American West
  • Indigenous History
  • Environmental History
  • Public History

Selected Publications

Red Earth Nation: A History of the Meskwaki Settlement ("Environment in Modern North America” series, University of Oklahoma Press, 2024).

"Reclaiming Land and Memory," in Re:Generation, ed. Paul Farber and Sue Mobley (forthcoming, Temple University Press, 2024).  

“At the Vertex of Water and Stone: Preserving Landscape and Memory in Rapid City,” South Dakota History 51, no. 4 (Winter 2021): 319–49.

"Fewer Rabbis Than U.S. Senators: Jewish Political Activism in Twentieth Century South Dakota,” co-authored with Art Marmorstein and Matthew Remmich, in The Plains Political Tradition: Essays on South Dakota Political Culture, Vol. III, ed. Jon K. Lauck, John E. Miller, and Donald C. Simmons, Jr. (Pierre: South Dakota State Historical Society Press, 2018): 112–39.

“A President in Indian Country: Calvin Coolidge and Lakota Diplomacy in the Summer of 1927,” Great Plains Quarterly 37, no. 3 (Summer 2017): 215–234.

“Building the Red Earth Nation: The Civilian Conservation Corps-Indian Division on the Meskwaki Settlement,” Native American and Indigenous Studies 2, no. 2 (Fall 2015): 106–133.

“Settlement Sovereignty: The Meskwaki Fight for Self-Governance, 1856 to 1937,” Annals of Iowa 73, no. 4 (Fall 2014): 311–347.

Honors / Awards

  • 2021 Autry Public History Prize, Western History Association (with the Project Team for the Rapid City Indian Boarding School Lands Project)
  • 2021 Alice Smith Prize in Public History, Midwestern History Association (with the Project Team for the Rapid City Indian Boarding School Lands Project)
  • 2021 Honorable Mention, Outstanding Public History Project Award, National Council on Public History (with Heather Dawn Thompson, on behalf of the Rapid City Indian Boarding School Lands Project)
  • 2017 Rachel Carson Prize for Best Dissertation, American Society for Environmental History
  • 2015 Graduate Student Research Excellence Award in Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, University of Iowa Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development
  • 2015 Mildred Throne–Charles Aldrich Award, State Historical Society of Iowa Board of Trustees
  • 2015 Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award, University of Iowa Council on Teaching
  • 2013 Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award, Iowa History Center at Simpson College