Forthcoming Publications and Works in Progress

Zappia is working on multiple writing projects including three book manuscripts and six shorter articles and chapters. His current work reflects similar themes as his earlier publications, digging into the deep historical layers of continental and global food systems.  His book manuscript currently in development, "Food Frontiers: Indigenous Commodities, Landscapes, and Power in Early North America," seeks to situate Native American food systems within the larger contours of world history.

But Zappia's new work also explores other more contemporary issues related to sustainability, Indigeneity, and cultural appropriation. Two of his other book manuscripts,  "Rez Metal: Navajo Soundscapes and History" (co-authored with Ashkan Soltani; forthcoming Spring 2020, University of Nebraska Press) and "Indigenous Archives and Indigenous Knowledge in History: Keepers, Tellers, and Translation" (co-edited with Lisbeth Haas; under contract, University of Nebraska Press) brings together these themes.  

Works in Progress Include:

Food Frontiers: Indigenous Space, Power, and North America's Food System, 900-1850




Zappia's manuscript explores the evolution of food in the early American West. It closely examines the political-economic, cultural, technological, and environmental transformations that helped create new food systems across the vast distances of continental North America. Within this region, food systems required myriad supporting components, including infrastructure, transportation networks, producers, consumers, and irrigation. In similar ways, Natives and Euro-Americans employed varying agricultural and horticultural techniques over a period of three centuries, ultimately converging on complex, overlapping systems of grass management by the early 1800s. As in the Great Plains, grass supported large herbivores like livestock (especially horses, mules, sheep, and cattle) that simultaneously fueled regional and global markets for hides, wool, tallow, and slaves. By closely examining the intimate connections between families, villages, migrations, and land use that stitched together Indigenous and Euro-American food systems, we can better understand the ecological forces that paved the way for the modern Far West.

This work has benefited from the generous support of several fellowships and grants, including those from UCLA's Institute of American Cultures, NEH, Huntington Library, Autry National Center, New York Public Library, and American Philosophical Society. Sections of this work appear or will be featured in Environmental HistoryWorld History ConnectedGreat Plains: An Environmental History, and Early American Studies.

Inside the Navajo Heavy Metal Scene

This book explores the relationship between Native music and history. The book challenges the stereotypes of reservation life and static cultural identity that plague mainstream perceptions of Indian country. Rather, Zappia and his co-collaborator, award-winning filmmaker Ashkan Soltani, capture the creative energy and vibrant Native youth culture in the twenty-first century. The manuscript is under contract with the University of Nebraska Press, and its publication date (expected 2020) will coincide with the screening of the accompanying PBS-sponsored film directed and produced by Soltani.

Indigenous Archives and Indigenous Knowledge in History: Keepers, Tellers, and Translation

Indigenous Archives: Knowledge, Power, and Practice speaks to some of the most fundamental concerns within Indigenous studies today: What is the significance of Indigenous archival production to historical writing?  How can scholars better address native knowledge and historical memory in their interpretation and representation of the past?  The book studies the dynamic nature of archives to be constituted anew, change their holdings, and to be reevaluated and understood anew, and used for purposes previously not imagined.  By “Indigenous Archives” Zappia and Haas refer to many kinds of memory practices and documents forged through histories of record keeping, including Indigenous language sources, oral histories, stories and paintings; visual and material culture; dance and other ceremony; land use practices; and written documents. Materials that have been created or valued by Indigenous people and communities, and objects of study that might remain within, or have been removed from, their places of origin. 


The authors initially presented these essays at a conference on “Indigenous Archives” (organized by Zappia and Haas) at the American Philosophical Society (APS) in June of 2017.  The APS holds one of the oldest and largest collections of Indigenous language sources and tribal archives in North America, and it is changing its archival practices to address today’s concerns about Indigenous archives.

The contributors have all made important contributions to the field of Indigenous

studies, and their work suggests the range of subject areas scholars can embrace as they approach the same set of questions about the archive and narrative voice.  They include:

Lisbeth Haas (University of California, Santa Cruz)

Natale Zappia (Whittier College)

Amy Lonetree (University of California, Santa Cruz)

Ellen Cushman (Northeastern University)

SamiLakomäki(University of Oulu)

Christine DeLucia (Mt. Holyoke College)

Laura León-Llerena (Northwestern Universi)


APS Conference, Session #3, 2017.

Other Publications Under Review or in Preparation:

“Food Systems in the Early American Great Plains,” in Kathleen Brosnan and Brian Frehner, eds., Environmental History of the Great Plains (Norman, OK: Oklahoma University Press, forthcoming 2020)

“The Quechan Uprising of 1781: Rethinking Indigenous Resistance in Early North America” (with Benjamin Madley)


“In the Land of the Head Hunters: Edward Curtis, Settler Colonialism, and the ‘Documentary’,” in 

Rebecca Weaver-Hightower and Janne Lahti, eds., Cinematic Settlers: The Settler Colonial World in 

Film (Routledge Press, 2020)


“Early California Cultural Atlas: Digital History and Indigenous Spaces” (w/Steven Hackel and 

Jeannette Zernecke), in Janet Hess, ed., Location, the Sacred, and Indigeneity: Digital and Spiritual 

Understandings of Native America (Routledge Press, 2020)


“The Seed as an Archive,” in Lisbeth Haas and Natale Zappia, eds., Indigenous Archives and 

Indigenous Knowledge in History: Keepers, Tellers, and Translation, (Lincoln, NE: University of 

Nebraska Press)


“Golden Brew: California’s New Coffee Boom” (with Cinzia Fissore)