Happy Indigenous People’s Day

It’s Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples’ Day — both by presidential proclamation. Axios morning email thingie alerts us to some interesting developments:

A new project is building a massive website uncovering the enslavement of Native Americans, Axios’ Russell Contreras reports.

  • Why it matters: The killing of George Floyd drew attention to systemic racism and the legacy of slavery. But most people know very little about Indigenous enslavement in the U.S. and Latin America.

“Native Bound Unbound: Archive of Indigenous Americans Enslaved” promises to digitize and piece together stories of the millions of Indigenous people whose lives were shaped by slavery.

  • Using documents, baptismal records, letters and oral histories, the site will allow people to search for Native Americans who were enslaved and locate possible descendants.

The website is expected to go live in about a year and a half.

  • It will be similar to Enslaved.org — a database that gathers records about the lives of enslaved Africans and their descendants.
  • Users can look up relatives and trace their histories.

🔭 Zoom out: Indigenous slavery co-existed with African slavery from the sixteenth up to the late nineteenth century, Andrés Reséndez wrote in “The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America.”

  • He estimates that between 2.5 million to 5 million Indigenous people were enslaved from the time of Columbus to the end of the nineteenth century.

Apache members were enslaved in the American Southwest and sold to work in mines in Mexico. Latter-day Saints settlers in Utah purchased enslaved Native Americans and converted them.

As a child of California, I can assert that the Missions were built with the slave labor of Native Americans and forced conversion to Christianity, so we’re no angels, either. My generation were never told that part in our California History classes until we got to college, and it was a startling eye opener.

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2 Responses to Happy Indigenous People’s Day

  1. Name it the ‘1492 Project’

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  2. My generation were never told that part in our California History classes until we got to college, and it was a startling eye opener.

    My school education in AZ was not any better…we were taught that Eusebio Kino was a great and benevolent man who founded missions throughout the spanish territories without ever being told that they forcibly ‘converted’ the natives, and introduced new food crops for them to grow instead of their traditional ones. (which has had a lasting effect on them here in the Southwest as the diet imposed by these European foods was directly responsible for an epidemic of obesity, diabetes and all that entails, to this very day.)

    In 2020 his statue here at the Arizona Historical society was tagged with red spray paint exoressly because of his imperialist oppression

    To their credit the AZ Historical society took a surprisingly progressive view of the event:

    https://arizonahistoricalsociety.org/2020/11/10/memorials-and-monuments-at-the-arizona-historical-society/

    (admission: as a undergraduate I frequently left an empty beer can in his outstretched hand when I came by…but that was less a statement on his oppressive past than college slacker humor…)

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