Scholars are now focusing on the forgotten slaves: Native Americans

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tags: slavery, Native Americans



Ruthless European slave traders emptying villages and forcing terrified victims onto ships bound for the Atlantic. Lines of chained humans marching toward slave markets under the watchful eyes of armed guards. Violent slave owners using torture and rape to force more work out of their captives.

These searing images might bring to mind the terrible history of African slavery in the United States. But in fact they describe historical events in the Bahamas, Central Mexico, and the American continent’s Western frontier — and the slaves were Indians.

In popular culture and in scholarship, slavery is having a moment. Racial strife in the present is drawing new attention to the racialized injustice and inequality in our past. Recent and acclaimed books by Edward Baptist, Sven Beckert, and Walter Johnson have illuminated the economic calculations behind planter cruelty and the connections among slavery, capitalism, and American expansion. But these books, and movies like 12 Years a Slave, have also reinforced the popular "black and white" image of slavery — an injustice perpetrated by whites against Africans and their descendants, mainly in the antebellum South.




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