New Book Release: The Dawn of Detroit

The Washington Post recently published their review of The Dawn of Detroit. Herb Boyd, author of Black Detroit: A People’s History of Self-Determination writes, “Miles demonstrates a unique insight on native and African American culture” and “has a keen eye for details.” Read his full review: A book that will make you rethink slavery and the North.

The New York Times recently published their review of The Dawn of Detroit. Jason Sokol writes “[Tiya’s] book powerfully reconstructs the experiences of Detroit’s slaves. The dearth of archival sources makes her achievement all the more impressive.” Read the full review here.

On The Book Review Podcast, Tiya Miles discusses the differences in the history of slavery and enslaved people in Detroit and the South, and the challenges of writing about this subject in her latest book The Dawn of Detroit. Listen now. (Tiya’s interview begins at 23:47).

The Detroit Free Press recently highlighted an excerpt from The Dawn of Detroit that explores southeast Michigan’s history of slavery. Read more.

The Detroit Metro Times’ Larry Gabriel shares a fresh perspective on the rebirth of the city of Detroit and points to Tiya Miles’ valuable insight into what can be learned from its past. He writes, “[Dawn] breathes life into a piece of American history that has been rendered in a formulaic manner for so long, things that we celebrated as part of the DNA of the town — but, like DNA, incredibly more complex and nuanced than most folks want to contemplate.”  Read the article: The Dawn of Detroit offers a fresh perspective on the city’s history.

publisher's weekly logo

Publishers Weekly
selected The Dawn of Detroit as a “big indie book,” recognizing it as one of the “best books” released by an independent publisher this fall! Learn more here.


Tiya Miles’ latest book, The Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits, opens the door on a completely hidden past. It’s a powerful and elegantly written history that completely changes our understanding of slavery’s American legacy.

Tiya was on Michigan Public Radio’s Stateside to discuss Detroit’s forgotten history of slavery detailed in her new book The Dawn of Detroit.

“There are accepted historical ‘facts’ which do not hold up to closer scrutiny. One of those is that slavery was something that happened in the South, not the North. That is simply wrong.”

Airing Details
Previously Aired on Dec 8, 2017 | 91.7 FM – Ann Arbor/Detroit | 91.1 FM – Flint | 104.1 FM – West Michigan

Recorded at her recent book launch at Source Booksellers in Detroit, MI, Tiya talks about her book The Dawn of Detroit, in which she examines the role that slavery played in the early history of Detroit.

Airing Details
Previously Aired on Oct 28, 2017 | 7:00pm EDT | C-SPAN 2
Previously Aired on Oct 29, 2017 | 2:00pm EDT | C-SPAN 2

Tiya Miles recently discussed her experience writing her latest book, The Dawn of Detroit, with author Deborah Kalb on Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb. Read the interview here.


WHEN: Thursday, February 15, 2018
3:00 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.
WHERE: Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian
Rasmuson Theater

Finding Common Ground Event Poster[Click to Enlarge]

Additional information about the event speakers [Click to Enlarge]

Tiya Miles will be speaking at Finding Common Ground in mid-February. This program, moderated by Michel Martin, weekend host of NPR’s All Things Considered, will focus on the complex, sometimes fraught, history of African Americans and Native Americans, and how these intertwined stories have become an essential part of our American identity.

Tiya Miles ’ presentation, The First and the Forced: Tracing Historical Overlaps in Native and Black America, offers an overview of key moments of overlap in Native American and African American histories. More information about the event here.

This event has been postponed due to weather.

Tiya Miles will discuss and sign her latest book, The Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straights, which recovers the city’s early complicity in slavery.  It has recently been highlighted in The Chronicle of Higher Education, the New York Times and other national publications. More information about the event here.


The South Doesn’t Own Slavery

Historians of the United States are continually unearthing an ugly truth: American slavery had no bounds. It penetrated every corner of this country, materially, economically and ideologically, and the unjust campaign to preserve it is embedded in our built environments, North and South, East and West.

In a recent op-ed featured in the New York Times, Tiya Miles highlights the tendency in our national discourse to confine slavery to the American South.

Read Alysa Zavala-Offman’s op-ed U-M professor breaks down Detroit’s racist history in ‘New York Times’ recently published in the Detroit Metro Times.
welcome to detroit with a green street sign background


The Secret Life of Indigenous Archives

Flyer for the Secret Life of Indigenous ArchivesTiya Miles joined Lisa Brooks, Amy Lonetree, and Philip Round in Chicago to discuss the “secret life” of the indigenous archive: what haunts and/or comforts them as researchers, the unexpected intimacies, the unresolved questions, the wondrous discoveries, the feeling of kinship to the lives of others and the material traces they leave behind.

Tiya Miles Announced as a Recipient of 2017 NEH Public Scholar Program

Tiya Miles was named one of this year’s recipients of the National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar program.

The National Endowment for the Humanities logo

Tiya’s next project The Story of ‘Ashley’s Sack’: A Family Heirloom in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

This generous funding will support Tiya’s research and writing of her book about African American women’s experience, as revealed through an embroidered cotton bag passed down through generations of enslaved and free women.

Read more about the NEH Public Scholars Grant and the award winners in the Washington Post’s article 2017 NEH grants encourage great scholarship for nonscholars to enjoy.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this book, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Tiya Miles joins the discussion on the podcast “Another Round”

In a recent episode titled I Got Indian In My Family, from the podcast “Another Round”, Tiya explains the complex connections and relationships between Native Americans and Black people on the topic of tracing one’s roots and Native heritage. Tiya’s segment begins around the 13:04 minute mark. Listen to the discussion.

Read the Latest Review of The Cherokee Rose

Book Cover ImageRead the latest review of The Cherokee Rose at Carpe Librum, encore’s biweekly book column: Tiya Miles weaves tiny threads into a bigger story in ‘The Cherokee Rose.’

Fresh Takes on the Declaration of Independence

Fresh Takes of the Declaration of Independence GraphicTiya Miles was one of twenty-four scholars from across the country to be asked to review a copy of the original Declaration of Independence and offer their perspective on its words and meaning. Read Tiya Miles’ contribution to this Harvard project.

Organization of American Historians appointed Tiya Miles to distinguished Lectureship Program

OAH-logoTiya Miles was recently named an Organization of American Historians (OAH) Distinguished Lecturer. Read more about Tiya’s appointment in the OAH press release.


Free the Black Slave Mistress Ghost

It is time to exorcise the “slave mistress” ghost of the Southern haunted house tour and replace her with fully realized personas of the difficult past.”

Tiya Miles’ op-ed on slave ghost tourism in Savannah, GA was featured in the Savannah Morning News/Savannah Now. Continue reading.

How a Court Answered a Forgotten Question of Slavery’s Legacy

The House on Diamond Hill: A Cherokee Plantation Story was recently referenced in TIME Magazine in an op-ed written by Arica L. Coleman, author of That the Blood Stay Pure: African Americans, Native Americans and the Predicament of Race and Identity in Virginia and chair of the Committee on the Status of African American, Latino/a, Asian American, and Native American (ALANA) Historians and ALANA Histories at the Organization of American Historians.


Event highlights

The National Museum of the American Indian, the National Museum of African Art and NMAAHC recently presented From Tarzan to Tonto: Stereotypes as Obstacles Toward a More Perfect Union.

Tiya Miles presenting at From Tarzan to Tonto

The discussion among noted scholars, authors and critics about the persistent presence of stereotypes and the barriers they pose toward a more enlightened and inclusive society was featured in Essence Magazine. Read the article and view photos of the event.

The entire presentation is available to stream on YouTube. Watch now. Find and view additional programming in The National Museum of the American Indian archives.

event pamphlets From Tarzan to TontoEvent participants included Gaurav Desai, Tulane University; Adrienne Keene, Brown University; Tiya Miles, University of Michigan; Imani Perry, Princeton University; and Jessi Wente, film critic and director of film programs, TIFF Bell Lighthouse. The event took place at the American Indian Museum’s Rasmuson Theate in Washington, D.C.

Of Sea and Thunder and Spring – Earth Day Celebration 2017

Organized collaboratively by ECO Girls at the University Michigan and the BlackGirlLandProject at Michigan State University, this Earth Day gathering was designed to foster discussion about women’s ties to the natural world, with a focus on black women’s histories and literatures.

Participants shared stories of women’s perceptions of nature, uses of land, links to particular environments, and considered the application of these stories in our present political and environmental moment. Learn more about this event and Environment for Girls.

Tiya Miles with ECO Girls organizers Elizabeth James (right), Marjai Kamara, and Zakiyah Sayyed (left to right) at the Intellectual Retreat on Black Women and Environment, co-sponsored by ECO Girls and the BlackGirlLandProject, Ann Arbor MI, April 2017.

Of Sea and Thunder and Spring Earth Day 2017

ECO Girls does not currently have plans to offer programming for this academic year, 2017-2018. Their collaborations to further environmental consciousness are ongoing! Visit a new environmental education website created in part by ECO Girls faculty. Learn more about the Red Thunder Oral History Project.

From an event hosted by the Women’s Diversity Book Group, co-sponsored by Women’s Rights Information Center’s Community Outreach & Education Committee and Englewood Public Library, to celebrate Native American Heritage Month in November, Englewood, New Jersey

Social Issues Book Club of the Institute for Social Research

Social Issues Book Club of the Institute for Social Research, at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 2016. Rita Bantom, Johanna Bleckman, Cathy Dougharty, Joyce French, Maudine Logan, Kaye Marz, Tiya Miles, Lee Ridley, Mary Vardigan (from left to right)

Thank you to Lois Brown, a researcher on Afro-Native histories in her own right, for sharing these thoughts on the group’s discussion: “Everyone loved learning something new—about the enslavement of African Americans by American Indians (and the aftermath), and the venue of the novel was the best vehicle for them. They were happy to know that I had met you and said to tell you they enjoyed Cherokee Rose very much.”

Follow Tiya Miles

Tiya Miles at The Raven Book Store Tiya Miles at The Raven Book Store, Lawrence, KS, 2015Did you know Tiya is a guest blogger on the Huffington Post? In her recent post “Trump Plan To Cut NEH and NEA Diminishes Us All” Tiya warns of what we stand to lose if President Trump’s proposals to cut funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts are successful. Read Tiya’s past posts.

And if you’re on Twitter, follow Tiya @TiyaMilesUM.


Tiya Miles outside

Photo by Kimberly Mitchell for the Detroit Free Press

Whether or not ghosts are real is beside the point, Colin Dickey tells us in the first lines of “Ghostland.” Rather, what compels him in this appealing book is the meaning of haunted places in contemporary American culture. “How do we deal with stories about the dead and their ghosts?” Dickey asks. “How do we inhabit and move through spaces that we have deemed haunted?” Continue reading.


At the end of September, Tiya participated in a public history forum and panel discussion presented by UC’s History Department featuring visiting scholar: Dr. Tiya Miles, University of Michigan.

TIya Miles panel discussion

Tiya Miles laughing with panel partcipants
TIya Miles participates in a panel discussion

Panel participants included Christine Anderson, Dept. of History, Xavier University, Holly McGee, Dept. of History, University of Cincinnati, Betty Ann Smiddy, College Hill Historical Society, and Brian Taylor, Black Lives Matter Cincinnati.

The event was moderated by Fritz Casey-Leininger, Dept. of History, University of Cincinnati and sponsored by the UC History Department, the Charles Phelps Taft Research Center, the Dean of Arts and Sciences, and the African American Cultural Resource Center.

INCYMI — watch now

Watch the video from a recent dialogue with Tiya Miles and Martha Jones at UM Libraries

Tiya Miles Miles’ insight into the intimate dynamics of slavery at the crossroads of Native American and African American experience has won her professional accolades and an eager readership. In this sense, while The Cherokee Rose is fiction, it is no sharp departure. Miles builds upon what she had already taught us, including her exploration of Georgia’s Chief Vann House, to provide a new vantage point from which to explain the past.

– Martha Jones


Sorrel weed houseIn her new book, Tales from the Haunted South: Dark Tourism and Memories of Slavery from the Civil War Era, Tiya explores the popular yet troubling phenomenon of “ghost tours,” frequently promoted and experienced at plantations, urban manor homes, and cemeteries throughout the South.

How Ghost Tours Often Exploit African-American History
Tiya talked with Here & Now’s Robin Young about her new book “Tales from the Haunted South: Dark Tourism and Memories of Slavery from the Civil War Era.  Listen to her interview and read an excerpt from her newest book on Here and Now.

book cover of Tales from the Haunted SouthGhosts ‘R Us
In a recent guest post on UNC Press Blog, Tiya shares some of the slave ghost stories marketed at tourist sites around the South and argues for reverence, rather than caricature, of historic sites of slavery. Read Ghosts ‘R Us.

Exorcising the Slave Mistress Ghost
The rise of dark tourism at historic sites is a concern for some historians who worry that by replacing historical tours with ghost tours, we are losing opportunities for public dialogue about serious social issues of the past and the present. Read Tiya’s blog.

Read the review of Tales from the Haunted South that appeared in the latest issue of The Journal of Southern History.


the cover of The House on Diamond HllThe House on Diamond Hill
“The only comprehensive book about life on the Vann Plantation from the perspective of examining not only Cherokee history . . . but also black history, the roles of Moravian missionaries and white history.”
–The Daily Citizen, Dalton, GA

Cover of the book Ties That Bind

The second, expanded edition of Ties That Bind: The Story of an Afro-Cherokee Family in Slavery and Freedom is available from the University of California Press.

An interview by PreservationNation Blog with Tiya Miles

Tiya Miles photo for PreservationNation Blog
Tiya Miles was recently interviewed about her two books The House on Diamond Hill and The Cherokee Rose. Read the interview Tiya Miles on History, Historical Fiction, and “Structured Imagination”.

PreservationNation Blog hosts stories, news, and notes from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Publisher's Weekly LogoThe Cherokee Rose: book of the week

The book launch for my debut novel, The Cherokee Rose, held at the University of Michigan, was a truly memorable experience. The organizers and people who came out were amazingly generous.

In addition, The Cherokee Rose was chosen as a book of the week by Publisher’s Weekly. PW Picks: Books of the Week picks! Read the review in the PW story.

My grandmother used to tell me stories about her father, a man born into slavery who claimed African American as well as Native American forebears. His name was Price. He lived in Mississippi as a boy and felt the immediate, transformative effects of the U.S. Civil War. He came of age as a free man, but faced the brutal limitations of unrelenting racial prejudice. He had children; they had children; those children had children, and here I am.

Tiya with twin daughters on her lap sitting next to her grandmother

Tiya with her grandmother, Alice Stribling Banks, and twin daughters, Noa Alice and Nali Azure, 2004.

My grandmother never finished grade school. She picked cotton as a girl down South, then cleaned homes for white families to make a living for her own twelve children in the North. She is the most brilliant person I have ever known. When I was admitted to Harvard College, my grandmother told me that one of her employers had a son who was a professor there. She couldn’t believe that her granddaughter would be at the same school, not as his maid, but as a student.

Tiya's grandmothers

Tiya Miles’s maternal grandmother, Alice Stribling Banks (right) and grandmother-in-law, Bertha Gone Snow (left), West Glacier, MT,1998.

The memory of my grandmother’s beaming pride at my graduation, after all of her years spent stooping down in cotton fields and kitchens, still brings tears to my eyes. She passed away at the age of 90, just before my twin daughters reached their first birthday. She had a lovely funeral. As my grandmother would say, we sent her home in “high cotton.”

The Metaphysics of History

When I travel to give presentations on my work, I most often hear feedback on an interview with Krista Tippett, titled “On Living Memory,” where I talked about the metaphysics of history. Here it is:


The magic of history may be this: with time comes change. So how can we channel that magic? How can we shape that inevitable change for the betterment of our planet Earth and all of her motley residents – the animate and the inanimate, the weak as well as the strong? How can we play our parts in history for the greater good? How can we make history together, aligning in our minds the reality of change and the righteousness of justice?

The Call of the Ancestors

A quotation from my mother, upon learning that I had just won a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship:

Go make your ancestors proud.

The Call of History

A quotation from Toni Morrison, “The Site of Memory”:

[T]hey straightened out the Mississippi River in places, to make room for houses and livable acreage. Occasionally the river floods these places. ‘Floods’ is the word they use, but in fact it is not flooding; it is remembering. Remembering where it used to be. All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was. Writers are like that: remembering where we were, that valley we ran through, what the banks were like, the light that was there and the route back to our original place. It is emotional memory–what the nerves and the skin remember as well as how it appeared. And a rush of imagination is our ‘flooding.