The history of Native American slavery, according to Fisher, has been “overlooked as a part of the history of slavery.” Approximately 2 to 5.5 million Native Americans were enslaved in the Americas between 1492 and 1880, on top of the 12.5 million African slaves who were enslaved in the Americas during the same period.
Native American Slavery: According to Fisher’s study, while natives had been forced into slavery and servitude as early as 1636, it was not until King Philip’s War that natives began to be enslaved in large numbers. The Native American leader King Philip, also known as Metacam, and his allies were pitted against the English colonial settlers during the war that lasted from 1675 to 1676.
The New England colonies routinely shipped Native Americans as slaves to Barbados, Bermuda, Jamaica, the Azores, Spain, and Tangier in North Africa during the war, according to Fisher. Native American Slavery:” It was a common practice during the war.” According to the study, while Africans who were enslaved were unaware of where they would be taken, Native Americans were aware that they could be sent to Caribbean plantations where they would face extremely harsh treatment far away from their homes and communities, according to the study. According to the findings of the study, some Native Americans pledged to fight to the death in order to avoid being sent overseas, while others surrendered in order to avoid being sent overseas.
Native American slavery it appears in the journal Ethnohistory, in a volume devoted to scholarship on indigenous slavery in the New World. Fisher’s study is titled “‘Why shall wee have peace to bee made slaves’: Indian Surrenders during and after King Philip’s War.” It was possible to trace Native American enslavement back to the colonial era through colonial correspondence and shipping records as well as court cases and town records. Orders from the colonial government and petitions from colonists to the British government also exist.
As Fisher wrote in the study, “Even contemporaneous official histories of the war all point to the same thing: Indians were enslaved en masse and either distributed locally or shipped overseas to a variety of destinations.”
Researchers have been able to conduct studies on native slavery in recent years because of award-winning books published in 2002 and 2003 that highlighted the systematic nature of indigenous enslavement, even within English colonies. Fisher’s research on Native Americans who surrendered during King Philip’s War examines the factors that contributed to native slavery as well as the long-term effects that enslavement had on Native Americans.
Native American Slavery: To Surrender Or Resist
Fisher’s study looks at both the short- and long-term consequences of native slavery. He points out that, during the war, the widespread fear of being sold into slavery overseas was used by Native Americans who supported Philip to recruit them to their side.
Many other Native Americans Slavery were captured and taken as prisoners by the English, Fisher wrote, either as a result of explicit inducements from the English offering mercy, or because they hoped that their surrender would be interpreted as a statement of neutrality. Individuals, families, larger bands, or entire communities could be among those who surrender, according to Fisher.
As a result of the war, some Native Americans slavery were willing to lend their support to the English. For example, Awashonks, the chief of a Sakonnet confederation who pledged support on the condition that Sakonnet men, women, and children were not killed or sold into slavery, according to the study, was willing to lend her support on the condition that Sakonnet men, women, and children were not killed or sold into slavery.
Fisher wrote that, particularly near the end of the war, natives surrendered in greater numbers in direct response to promises of leniency, but that the term “leniency” had no consistent and practical meaning.
Native American Slavery: Fisher wrote that English authorities concentrated their efforts on disarming natives first, either by selling guns turned in by surrenders’ or by prohibiting them from carrying arms. As a result of English communities’ opposition to letting natives who surrendered simply walk free, and the difficulty of housing and feeding them, many were captured and surrendered. Native Americans were simply sold into slavery, both overseas and within New England, or forced into temporary servitude within English households for short periods of time, according to historical records. As an additional gesture of recognition for their “subjection” to the Connecticut government, native communities were asked to contribute five shillings per male on an annual basis, according to the findings of the research.
Colonial Motivations, Native American Responses
Native American Slavery: Fisher wrote that New Englanders were motivated to enslave Native Americans Slavery by a desire to make money and clear land for colonists to claim, among other things. It was also less difficult to remove Native Americans from the region than it was to sell them in the local market and risk having the Native Americans flee in search of safety and protection.
According to Fisher, there was an ideological component to the enslavement of Native American slavery as well. “There was a presumption involving the innate inferiority of natives,” he said, which persisted among colonists.
“There were proto-racial notions of European superiority, as well as a strong desire for land,” he explained. “If you look at the history of the colonies, slavery is almost immediately introduced into the mix.”
Fisher is becoming increasingly convinced that “slavery was a normal part of their mental framework” for colonists, according to Fisher.
Some free Native Americans Slavery who collaborated with the English attempted to influence where Native American surrenders’ were settled and how they were treated, according to Fisher. One such individual was Uncas, the sachem of the Mohegan tribe in Connecticut.
Native American Slavery: Despite fighting for the English, Uncas “appeared to be adamant about keeping Indians out of English households and even more importantly off of English merchant ships that threatened to transport them to the Caribbean,” according to Fisher. According to the study, Uncas and other Native Americans also encouraged captives to flee and sheltered them when they did, as well as assisted them in resettling in other parts of the country.
In other instances, Native American Slavery requested captives as servants for themselves, sometimes in order to keep them out of English households, or they served as middlemen in the slave trade, according to Fisher. Fisher cites one instance in which a Native American slave owned by a Pequot leader was sold by him to an enslaved African woman as an example of this.