Ian Tonat is a fourth-year PhD candidate with research interests in North American colonial history, Native American history, and the early American West. In particular, he is interested in examining how Native societies and identities functioned and were structured, and how they influenced Native peoples' interactions with both other Native people and European colonizers. His research is focused in the Great Lakes region. He is beginning to write his dissertation, proposed to focus on the overlapping and intersecting identities and social categories of Native people in the Green Bay region during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Ian received a BA in History from Carleton College in 2011 and his MA in History from the College of William and Mary in 2014. His MA thesis, "Thus Did God Break the Head of That Leviathan: Performative Violence and Judicial Beheadings of Native Americans in Seventeenth-Century New England,"; examines a series of anomalous beheadings of Native men by New England authorities during periods of conflict between colonists and Native people. In addition to attempting to explain why these executions were carried out in this method, against the usual judicial practices of both the colonies and England, the thesis also examines how performative violence revealed and structured relationships between Native people and colonists. In the spring of 2016 he passed comprehensive examinations in four fields: Colonial, Nineteenth-, and Twentieth-Century America, and Indigenous People and Empires. He was also an editorial apprentice at the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture from 2012-2013 and is currently the organizer of the Native American History Working Group.