Blackhawk received his bachelor of arts in honors history from McGill University in 1992, a master’s in history from UCLA in 1994, and then in 1999, he earned his Ph.D. in history from the University of Washington.
The second in his family to attend college—his father is also a college graduate—Blackhawk was a recipient of a Diverse magazine Under 40 Emerging Scholars award in 2009 and is a member of the American Society for Ethnohistory as well as the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association.
Blackhawk strongly encourages budding Native youths to apply to Ivy League universities, especially Yale.
“There are recruitment weekends, for example, that bring admitted Native students to Yale, introduce them to our current community members and help answer any of the millions of questions that students and their families may have about life in college,” he said. “Yale has a particularly tight undergraduate community wherein all students live within a residential college system, and each college has its own feel and identity.”
Blackhawk, who currently serves as a director of undergraduate studies, American Studies Program, said a university setting is the ideal environment to discover what interests a person.
“The most important reason to pursue [a] college education is to develop one’s own academic and professional interests,” he said. “And Yale and other Ivy League schools have outstanding educators, small teacher-to-student ratios and research facilities and libraries that are often unmatched.”
In 2011, Blackhawk was awarded a Most Influential Books in Native American and Indigenous Studies of the First Decade of the Twenty-First Century Prize by the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association for Violence Over the Land: Indians and Empires in the Early American West.