Native American Slavery

Michael Guasco

in Atlantic History

ISBN: 9780199730414
Published online June 2011 | | DOI:
Native American Slavery

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  • History of the Americas
  • European History
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Native American slavery has traditionally been treated by scholars as a secondary matter that is of historical interest because of its relationship to other more common forms of exploitation, or because it was a curious but minor variation on the more important enslavement of African peoples on colonial plantations. Scholars of Latin American history have traditionally been most willing to acknowledge the practice of Native American slavery, particularly during the 16th century in both the Caribbean and Brazil. Additionally, in both Spanish and Portuguese America, the enslavement of indigenous peoples continued in subsequent centuries, although it was more likely to be found in frontier regions. Other forms of labor exploitation, such as the encomienda, repartimiento, and mita, increasingly impacted Native Americans who toiled on haciendas and in the obrajes and silver mines of New Spain and especially Potosí. The history and historiography of Native American slavery in North America, however, has been guided by different forces. Scholars have long been interested in the existence of Native American slaves, particularly in the Southeast, but they have recently started thinking about the importance of Native American slavery less in terms of labor and more in light of trade, diplomacy, and subtle indigenous cultural considerations. The scholarship on the borderland region between English, French, and Spanish North America has highlighted these themes repeatedly. Ultimately, however, Native American slavery in North America became increasingly dominated by the demand for labor in plantation enterprises. By the 19th century, many Native American peoples, most famously the Cherokees, embraced racial slavery and began to own African American slaves.

Article.  8655 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas ; European History ; African History ; History ; Regional and National History

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