The University of North Texas Libraries invite applications for the 2016 The Portal to Texas History Research Fellowship. Research using the Portal is relevant to studies in a variety of disciplines including history, journalism, political science, geography, and American studies. We encourage applicants to think creatively about the opportunities that research with large digital library collections can enable. Preference will be given to applicants who demonstrate the greatest potential for publication and the best use of The Portal to Texas History.

The Portal to Texas History 2015 Research Fellowship Awardee

Nakia Parker

Project Title

Trails of Tears and Freedom: Slavery, Migration, and Emancipation in the Southwest Borderlands, 1830-1887

Project Description

My proposed dissertation project “Trails of Tears and Freedom: Slavery, Migration, and Emancipation in the Southwest Borderlands 1830-1887” chronicles the lived experiences and migration patterns of enslaved people of African and Black Indian descent in Cherokee, Choctaw, and Chickasaw slaveholding communities in Arkansas, Indian Territory, and Texas between the time of Indian Removal to the passage of the Dawes Act of 1887. This locale was a volatile and contested space and home to a confluence of people and cultures. Through an examination of government and plantation records, newspaper accounts, and slave narratives, I argue that while enslaved people who lived in this area remained especially vulnerable to overt, spectacular acts of violence such as raids from the Comanche, this geographic space also offered diverse opportunities for bondpeople to engage in resistance, establish kinship ties with surrounding native polities, and attain freedom. Exploring enslaved life on this antebellum frontier—a space neither completely “southern” nor “western”— will demonstrate how these literal and figurative margins molded interactions and shaped the lives of the enslaved individuals who lived in this dynamic region.


Nakia Parker is completing her third year in the history doctoral program at the University of Texas in Austin under the direction of Dr. Daina Ramey Berry. Her research interests include Native American slaveholding and captivity practices in Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas during the nineteenth century, gender, antebellum Southern history, and memory studies. She completed her undergraduate degree in history at the State University of New York at New Paltz, where she graduated summa cum laude. Last year, she was elected the National Graduate Student Representative for the Association of Black Women Historians.  In March 2015, she was awarded a C.M. Caldwell Memorial Award for Excellence in Historical Research by the Texas State Historical Association for her paper “Bold, Bad Notorious” Hal Geiger: Politics, Violence, and Defiance in Reconstruction Era East Texas.”‚Äč