Brooke Bauer '05, '07

Name: Brooke M. Bauer
Residence: Knoxville, Tennessee
Degree: Bachelor's and master's degrees, U.S. history
Occupation: Assistant professor, University of Tennessee-Knoxville 

Brooke Bauer '05, '07 found inspiration for her book among the powerful matriarchs of the Catawba reservation where she grew up.

Bauer was awarded the 2020-21 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Native American Scholars Initiative Fellowship at the American Philosophical Center in Philadelphia, where she completed revisions to the book ahead of its publication date. The book, "Becoming Catawba," focus on Catawba Nation-building and center around Catawba women like her mother, from whom Bauer draws her biggest motivation.

“My mother motivates me. She has always been a huge advocate for education. But more than that, it is knowing her educational experiences, as well as understanding the academic challenges that my Catawba grandmothers confronted. My great-grandmother was one of the thousands of Native children forced to attend the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania. My grandmother finished the 6th or 7th grade, then worked to help care for her family. My mother completed high school but spent a few of her school years attending the Cherokee Boarding School in North Carolina,” explained Bauer, who formerly served as co-director of the Native American Studies Center at the University of South Carolina Lancaster.

“Education has never been an easy thing for Catawbas, but the stories of these wonderful women inspire me every day,” she said.

The first of her tribe to receive a doctorate, Bauer understood early on the importance of education. With the Catawba Nation about seven miles from Winthrop, Bauer's proximity to campus made the decision to attend Winthrop easy.

“As a child growing up in Rock Hill, I recall driving past Winthrop's dormitories facing Cherry Road, thinking, ‘one day, I want to go there,'” she said.

Although she attended Winthrop in her 30s as a non-traditional student, Bauer began her career path in history at Winthrop. After graduating from Winthrop in 2007, Bauer began working as a research archivist at the Historical Center of York County and went on to obtain a graduate degree from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. In 2016, she became a U.S. history professor at USCL.

Throughout her career, Bauer has embraced change and new opportunities while incorporating her Catawba heritage in her work.

“We often think about change as something to avoid or fear because it disrupts our lives. However, I decided to approach change as a challenge,” she said.

Bauer specializes in Native American studies, U.S. history, American women's history and Native North American material culture.