What about slaves who are not black but Native American?

+8 votes
I want to start recording the slaves owned by my ancestors in America. Are Native American slaves categorized in The Black Heritage Project, too?
in Genealogy Help by Beverly Tamanini G2G2 (2.1k points)
Thank you to all who responded. Your answers are helpful and also thoughtful and this is clearly an area for more categorizing and consideration. It appears from my limited knowledge that Native Americans were treated as chattel slaves by the Europeans but not necessarily the other way around. I so love wikitree and how we can collaboratively work on this. I don't have any good ideas right now but will keep tabs on how these projects develop and give it some more thinking.

3 Answers

+4 votes

This article on Wikipedia makes interesting reading:


Many sentences are shocking in this article, but two sentences stand out: 

"Andrés Reséndez estimates that between 147,000 and 340,000 Native Americans were enslaved in North America, excluding Mexico. Linford Fisher's estimates 2.5 million to 5.5 million Natives enslaved in the entire Americas."

by A. Creighton G2G6 Pilot (651k points)
+5 votes
As an outsider, I would say no.

Native Americans (First Nations?) should be considered differently. They were both slaves and enslavers at different times and for different reasons than African American people.

But I look forward to hearing others opinions.
by Marion Poole G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
I'm with Marion and would suggest that this would fall more appropriately under the Native Americans project (if in what is now the U.S.).
+2 votes
The individuals and their profiles wouldn't be part of the Black Heritage project, but the categories Slaves, Slave Owners, and Slavery categories are not necessarily project specific.

HOWEVER ... an important caveat

The focus of the Slavery categories is intended to be chattel slavery that is passed down from parent to child. I don't know enough about enslaved Native Americans to know if they fit that description.

(I'm an active member of the U. S. Black Heritage Project, but I don't speak for it.)
by Dave Ebaugh G2G6 Mach 1 (19.1k points)

Dave wrote: "The focus of the Slavery categories is intended to be chattel slavery that is passed down from parent to child."

Where does it say this? Why would a category be limited to only those individuals whose enslavement was passed from one generation to the next? Can you help us explain the reasoning behind that? Thanks.

I don't understand why they would be for chattel slavery either. My understanding was it is for all slavery that occurred in the U.S. regardless of race/ethnicity. I wonder if what you mean is it doesn't apply to those who were indentured servants which is a different group of people? I only understand 2 type of enslaved people--those forced into it and those born into it. What am I missing?

I probably overstated in haste to reply. What I was trying to get at was indenture and similar arrangements. Like I said, I don't know enough about the specifics to offer guidance, which would probably vary greatly depending on circumstances. In the big picture what I think doesn't matter anyway. Not a gatekeeper, not trying to be don't want to be!

It is in our interest to be very diligent about differentiating slavery from systems of indenture. We're all familiar with the "Irish slavery" trope that has infected family history sites. It conflates indenture and slavery and is used specifically to downplay the impact of slavery in America and on Americans. I'm not saying anyone here is or would be doing that, just that it behooves us to draw a sharp line. That's not always easy or obvious - I can think of several examples I've seen where I'm just not sure.

(Another wrinkle - many slaves in the U. S. today are presented as indentured servants, but the conditions for their release - often repay a debt or such - are constantly moving just out of their reach. And yes, there are slaves in the U. S. - an estimated 400,000 in 2018.)


Related questions

+11 votes
1 answer
+7 votes
1 answer
+38 votes
14 answers

WikiTree  ~  About  ~  Help Help  ~  Search Person Search  ~  Surname:

disclaimer - terms - copyright