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
Public Narratives: Monuments, Cultural Centers, and Museums as Sites of Contestation

Education & Training

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

Representative Publications

(September 2021) “When Black Lives Matter Meets Indian Country: Using the Cherokee and Chickasaw Nations as Case Studies for Understanding the Evolution of Public History and Interracial Coalition,” American Indian Quarterly vol. 45, no. 3

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

(April 2021) Roundtable, "No More Nations within Nations: Indigenous Sovereignty after the End of Treaty-Making in 1871," 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 Black and Native American history from the nineteenth century to the modern day with particular attention to identity, settler colonialism, and anti-Blackness. This specialization stems from my own family history: my paternal ancestors were Black and Native people enslaved in the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations. 

I’ve written for mainstream outlets like TIME magazine, the Washington Post, and High Country News, and published academic essays in the Western Historical Quarterly, the Journal of the Civil War Era, American Indian Quarterly, Southern Cultures, and the Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era

In my first book, I’ve Been Here All the While: Black Freedom on Native Land (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2021), I use archival research and family history to upend the traditional story of Reconstruction, connecting 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. 

I've Been Here All the While was awarded the Stubbendieck Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize by the Center for Great Plains Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in history. 

My second book will explore public history, memorialization, and the legacy of slavery and anti-Blackness in the Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Cherokee Nations.