August 21st, 2019

Native Slavery



I was looking at a book today at the library, Stealing Indian Women: Native Slavery in the Illinois Country, by Carl J. Ekberg. The title sounds sensational, but the prose seemed careful and dry, with lots of quotations and evaluations of original materials, which are actually somewhat thin.

This is about the Mississippi Valley when it was controlled by the Spanish and French. It turns out, as you may know, that the native people were already engaged in the practice of slavery, before the Europeans showed up. It was the prisoner-of-war variety of slavery, apparently. You know, "I spared your life when I raided your village, so I own you." That kind of thing.

As I say, the records are thin, because the native people did not keep written records. Also, there weren't all that many literate white people around either. But the second half of the book, which I just glanced at, is about a big murder trial that occurred, about which proceedings were kept.

Just to be perfectly clear,
In some ways it was not the same,
But before the white men came,
Slavery was here.