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Alumni explores historical, cultural, political and personal connections that cross tribal designations

Frankie Bauer came to Western Carolina University in 2016 to pursue a master’s degree in history.

Frankie Bauer


A member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Bauer concentrated on Cherokee Studies, defending his thesis and earning his degree in fall 2018. Upon graduation, he was accepted into the American Studies doctorate program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was awarded the Joseph E. Pogue Fellowship.

“Western Carolina University is such a great institution with amazing faculty,” Bauer said. “In Cullowhee, I found a foundation for my furthering studies and interests that continue to this day.”

Building off the work begun at WCU, Bauer has continues to explore historical, cultural, political and personal connections that cross tribal designations. His dissertation will examine intertribal relations in the American borderlands and the shifting power structures in peripheral regions, with a focus on the interactions between the Cherokee and Osage nations before United States removal policies of the 1830s.

And while he pursues that educational path, he also is working as a teacher’s assistant in Cherokee language classes in Orange County.

“Bauer is a first-generation college student who came to Western Carolina University lacking certain resources available to many of his peers,” said Alex Macaulay, WCU associate professor and director of the graduate history program. “He used this steep learning curve to his advantage, rising to the top of his class. As a student in my gender history course, the quality and quantity of his contributions increased as his confidence grew in both himself and his academic abilities. This did not come easy, but Frankie worked hard in class after class, week after week, to grasp, understand, and utilize theories and concepts with which many students struggle. He read widely and deeply, incorporating books, arguments, and ideas from his other graduate classes into his analyses, questions and reviews.”

Bauer is studying under Benjamin Frey, UNC-CH assistant professor of American Studies, who teaches courses in Cherokee language and sociolinguistics, with a goal to inspire students to see how classroom knowledge can apply to real world social situations.

“For a Choctaw Californian, just being on this earth is noteworthy,” Bauer said, adding that hopefully his story “will inspire someone to reach their full potential as a student. Maybe even as a tribal member.”

Learn More About the Program

Master of History

Program Overview

Cullowhee - WCU Main Campus

App Deadline: Jan. 1, May 1, Aug. 1

Pre-Requisites: GRE combined score, 300

Tracks: Public History, Cherokee Studies

Full-Time or Part-Time

Learn More About the Program


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