Slaving Native Americans: Recommended reading


One way of dealing with disgrace is to pretend it didn't happen, another is to create a false narrative that exonerates the disgraced for what happened in the first place. When considering our Native American populations Americans tend to do both. To our credit, we are conscionable enough to feel disgraced and rightly so as we have throughout our history treated our Native brethren as "other," thus of little or no consequence to our story. Lately, a flood of books has arrived to prevent us from forgetting our past and allow us to revise our narrative to more closely approximate historical facts.

A Seldom Noted Fact

The bare fact is that much, perhaps most, of the reduction in Native American populations after the European invasion of the Western Hemisphere can be directly and indirectly attributed to slaving the Native population.

Our traditional narrative asserts that quite by accident, Europeans introduces diseases against which native peoples had no natural immunity. That is true,  and that horror story is well told by Lil Fenn in Pox Americana: the Great Smallpox epidemic of 1775-1778 (1999), and others. But 1775 is rather late in the game of conquest. In the early years of conquest, just war theory conveniently allowed conquerors to enslave and sell native captives. For example, we are all aware that the Moore cousins and John Barnwell, the mercenaries hired by North Carolina to remove the Tuscarora from the path of progress took their pay in captives, as did their mainly Siouxan "native levies." 

This subject's Time Has Come

What we generally haven't recognized is that this was a general practice from the Gulf of Mexico to the northernmost outposts of empire. By one account, in the 17th century, 10,000 per year were shipped out of Mobile alone into the Sugar Islands of the Carribean where they were sometimes swapped for Africans. Though Europeans left this out of their narrative until recently, Native Americans never forgot, and the internet has allowed them to promulgate their truth in, for example:
This sort of ad hoc reporting may have stimulated some  professional scholars to take a closer look, such as:
Whatever the reason, scholars now have the bit firmly in their teeth and we have a growing number of titles on the subject. Here without comment in no particular order is a summer reading list rooted in an email from Peter Wood received some weeks ago:
  • Reséndez, Andrés (2016). The other slavery: The uncovered story of Indian enslavement in America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.(2016)
  • Gallay, Alan (2009). Indian Slavery in Colonial America. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.
  • Schneider, Dorothy; Schneider, Carl J. (2007). "Enslavement of American Indians by Whites". Slavery in America, American Experience. New York: Facts On File.
  • Lauber, Almon Wheeler (1913). Reséndez, Andrés (2016). The other slavery: The uncovered story of Indian enslavement in America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  • Snyder, Christina. Slavery in Indian Country: The Changing Face of Captivity in Early America. Cambridge: Harvard University Press 2010.
  • Daniel H. Usner Jr.Indians, Settlers, and Slaves in a Frontier Exchange Economy: The Lower Mississippi Valley Before 1783 (Published by the Omohundro Institute of Early American ... and the University of North Carolina Press)Jan 1, 2014
  • David La Vere. The Tuscarora War: Indians, Settlers, and the Fight for the Carolina Colonies. Chapel Hill:UNC Press Oct 21, 2013
Bon Appetit


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