Department of History

Alaina E. Roberts

  • Assistant Professor


African American
Native American
African Diaspora
Nineteenth Century
United States


African American History 1
Natives and Newcomers: Multicultural Encounters in North American History
The Black West

Education & Training

  • PhD, Indiana University, 2017
  • BA, University of California, Santa Barbara

Representative Publications

(April 2021) I've Been Here All the While: Black Freedom on Native Land (University of Pennsylvania Press)

(April 2021) “Forum on the 1871 Indian Appropriations Act,” The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era vol. 20, no. 2

(June 2020) “A Different Forty Acres: Land, Kin, and Migration in the Late Nineteenth Century West,” Journal of the Civil War Era vol. 10, no. 2

(January 2018) “A Hammer and a Mirror: Tribal Disenrollment and Scholarly Responsibility,” Western Historical Quarterly vol. 49, no. 1

To see a complete and up-to-date list of publications, please visit:

Research Interests

My research focuses on the intersection of African American and Native American history from the nineteenth century to the modern day with particular attention to identity, settler colonialism, and anti-Blackness. 

My first book, I’ve Been Here All the While: Black Freedom on Native Land (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2021), ties African American and Native American history tightly together, revealing a western theatre of Civil War and Reconstruction in which Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole Indians, their Black slaves, and African Americans and whites from the eastern United States fought military and rhetorical battles to lay claim to land in Indian Territory (modern-day Oklahoma) that had been taken from others. Using archival research and family history to upend the traditional story of Reconstruction, I connect debates about Black freedom and Native American citizenship to westward expansion onto Native land.  As Black, white, and Native people constructed ideas of race, belonging, and national identity, this part of the West became, for a short time, the last place where Black people could escape Jim Crow, finding land and exercising political rights, until Oklahoma Statehood in 1907.