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Alaina E. Roberts      

Award-Winning Black & Indigenous Historian; Associate Professor at University of Pittsburgh; Author of "I’ve Been Here All the While"

Alaina E. Roberts is an award-winning associate professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh, where she studies and writes about the intersection of Black and Native American life from the Civil War to the modern day.

Dr. Roberts is the author of "I've Been Here All the While: Black Freedom on Native Land", which examines the history of the only people of African descent in the world to receive reparations for slavery—the symbolic "40 acres" of land. In the book, you'll also meet the Native Americans who enslaved these Black and mixed-race people as well as the white settlers who competed with them for land and governmental control in what is now Oklahoma.

"I've Been Here All the While" received the Stubbendieck Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize and the Western History Association’s John C. Ewers Award and W. Turrentine Jackson Book Prize. It was also a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in history.

Dr. Roberts has written for TIME magazine, High Country News, and the Washington Post, and her research has been featured in CNN, the Boston Globe, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and other outlets.

Speech Topics

Strength in Diversity

This talk uses an example of a moment from the past when people from different races and backgrounds could have come together in harmony to encourage strength in diversity in our present.

The diverse history of the West

Did you know that Native Americans were the first settlers in many parts of the West? What about the fact that at least 25% of cowboys were Black men? Learn about the real history of the American West!

Native Americans and the Civil War

Did you know Native Americans across North America fought in the Civil War? Learn how Native people fought for the Confederacy and for the Union, and why their reasons for doing so were both similar and distinctly different from those of white and Black Americans.

Juneteenth and the varieties of Black slavery and emancipation across North America

Juneteenth (June 19) was only one day on which African Americans were emancipated. Learn about how people of African descent across North America found freedom at many different times, and in many different ways.

American history as family history

Learn about the largely untold story of Black women and men owned as slaves by Native Americans through my family story—just one of many interesting ways American history is more complicated than you might think.


Remembering the history of ‘Black Wall Street’
The story of prosperity of Black communities in Tulsa, Oklahoma is incomplete without discussing their roots.
The ways Afro-Indigenous people are asked to navigate their communities
Two leading scholars discuss the complex relationship between Black and Native people.
Reconsidering Wilma Mankiller
As the Cherokee Nation’s first female chief’s image is minted onto a coin, her full humanity should be examined.

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