Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Native American Slavery

Q: Is it true that there was no slavery among Native American tribes?

A: No, that is not true. Slavery was rare in the Americas, but Northwest Coast tribes like the Haida and Tlingit and some South American cultures practiced slavery. Here's a book about slavery in the Northwestern tribes: Aboriginal Slavery on the Northwest Coast of North America.The Haida word for a slave is xaldaang, and the Tlingit word is gux. None of these tribes practice slavery today.

It is true that many colonial stories about slavery in North America were inaccurate. The Native Americans described as slaves by the colonists were actually adopted captives. When a Native American war party brought living prisoners back to their village, they were often adopted by families in the village. But they did not become slaves-- they were considered full members of the tribe, and had the same social status as the family that adopted them. There are many stories of captives who became a chief or medicine person of their new tribe, or married one of the chief's children.

Hope that helps, have a good day!
Native Languages of the Americas

Further reading:
Northwest Coast culture area
Haida language
Tlingit language

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