The Historic St. Augustine Research Institute, a group that contributes to local historic preservation efforts, have awarded their annual William L. Proctor award of $1,000 to Dr. Denise Bossy for her most recent book, “The Yamasee Indians From Florida to South Carolina” (University of Nebraska Press, 2018) for its outstanding scholarly work pertaining to the Yamasee Indians. HSARI hosts this juried award competition for writing focused in the areas of history, archaeology and historic architecture related to St. Augustine.
The award’s namesake, Dr. William L. Proctor, was appointed president of Flagler College in the spring of 1971. He served in that position until his appointment as chancellor, a position he currently holds.
Bossy is an Associate Professor of History at the University of North Florida, where she has been on the faculty since 2007. She received her Ph.D., M.Phil and M.A. in American history from Yale University, and her B.A. in history from Princeton. She has held fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, American Historical Association, American Philosophical Society, Mellon Foundation, John Carter Brown library, three institutes at Yale University and UNF.
Both her research and courses focus on the early South, especially the Native South and Indigenous Florida. She places special emphasis on teaching American Indian history as local, public, and southern histories. She also works with local museums and parks in Northeast Florida to improve their American Indian programming. In Fall 2018, she published the anthology “The Yamasee Indians: From Florida to South Carolina,” which grew out of a conference that she organized with archaeologist Chester DePratter at Flagler College in 2015. She is the author of many academic book chapters and articles, having received the John Murrin Prize and Malcolm C. Clark Award for them. She is currently completing the first monograph on the Yamasee Indians from their Mississippian roots to the late eighteenth century.
One jury panel member said, “The authors have done an amazing job of showing how much richer and balanced colonial history can be, when you build up a picture of the past based on what indigenous people were doing.”
Overall, the panel decided that the narrative presented on the Yamasee Indians and their contributions to shaping the southeast during the colonial period was much needed and therefore, deserved their recognition. The book explores the Yamasee successes in a blossoming St. Augustine, as well as their struggles, and the often-fractured relationship between the mission system of Florida and its English neighbors to the north. The HSARI panel also noted that this recognition of work is attributed to all of the book’s contributors.
“By placing Yamasees and other indigenous people at the center of our stories, we put them back where they were,” said Bossy.