Slavery In Indian Country

Indian country is composed of the various independently sovereign Native American people all over the United States. Slavery existed in these parts of America even before arrival of the first Africans in 1619. Indians captured prisoners during wars and enslaved, adopted and incorporated them into their society or killed them. It is important to understand the central role played by the Natives of the Indian country in the early slave trade.

Indian warriors imprisoned enemies from different races such as Europeans, Africans as well as other Indians. The fate of any captive was mainly dependent on their age and gender during the early slavery preceding the nineteenth century. The attitude of classifying slaves took a new direction as crisis on economic and political aspects escalated. The Indians adopted racialization of slavery focussing particularly on the African Americans. They affiliated themselves with the white settlers to secure a place by developing a common racial language with the white settlers. For this reason, the initial practice of taking prisoners of war remained intact amongst the Natives until the second Seminole war when the inclusive Native community collapsed.

The changes in practices of slavery were redesigned to fulfil the labour demands of the emerging European colonialists. In most cases, it is imperative to combine the two aspects of enslavement and captivity. Colonialists persistently made attempts to encourage an influx of labourers into their colony by promising to equip them with life skills. The fact that the population could not satisfy the needs for labour made the Africans and some Indians as the most efficient slaves. Movement of slaves from Africa to the colony earned the label, trans-Atlantic slave trade. The growing economy offered a very lucrative value for a slave. This move encouraged the Indian warriors to participate in the trade. New powers rose, and the Native Indians conjured trade relations that preserved their Native community.

Eventually, enslaving Indians declined in some parts of the region due to their decline to participate in the slave raids. Slavery in the Indian country is a very complex matter that requires a more detailed analysis. There is both a similarity in the victimization of Indian and African slaves and contrast in how they view it. The impact of slavery during the colonial period has a concrete association with the dominant racism ideologies today. One can say that both the colonials and Native Indians are implicated in the growth of racially-based slavery in the Indian Country.


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