The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America

The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America

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The Other Slavery is nothing short of an epic recalibration of American history, one that’s long overdue…In addition to his skills as a historian and an investigator, Résendez is a skilled storyteller with a truly remarkable subject. This is historical nonfiction at its most important and most necessary.”—Literary Hub, 20 Best Works of Nonfiction of the Decade?

“Long-awaited and important . . . No other book before has so thoroughly related the broad history of Indian slavery in the Americas.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“A necessary work . . . [Reséndez’s] reportage will likely surprise you.”—NPR

“One of the most profound contributions to North American history.”—Los Angeles Times

Since the time of Columbus, Indian slavery was illegal in much of the American continent. Yet, as Andrés Reséndez illuminates in his myth-shattering The Other Slavery, it was practiced for centuries as an open secret. There was no abolitionist movement to protect the tens of thousands of Natives who were kidnapped and enslaved by the conquistadors. Reséndez builds the incisive case that it was mass slavery—more than epidemics—that decimated Indian populations across North America. Through riveting new evidence, including testimonies of courageous priests, rapacious merchants, and Indian captives, The Other Slavery reveals nothing less than a key missing piece of American history. For over two centuries we have fought over, abolished, and tried to come to grips with African American slavery. It is time for the West to confront an entirely separate, equally devastating enslavement we have long failed truly to see.

“Beautifully written . . . A tour de force.”—Chronicle of Higher Education

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  • Format: eBook

  • ISBN-13/EAN: 9780544602670

  • ISBN-10: 0544602676

  • Pages: 448

  • Price: $9.99

  • Publication Date: 04/12/2016

  • Carton Quantity: 1

Andrés Reséndez
Author

Andrés Reséndez

ANDRÉS RESÉNDEZ's most recent book, The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America, was a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the 2017 Bancroft Prize.  He is professor of history at the University of California, Davis, a current Carnegie Fellow, and an avid sailor.   
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  • reviews

    “Reséndez corrects a blind spot in our understanding of North American history and illuminates mechanisms by which present-day versions of the practice endure.”—The New Yorker 

     

    "This book is, arguably, one of the most profound contributions to North American history published since Patricia Nelson Limerick's "Legacy of Conquest" and Richard White's "The Middle Ground." But it's not necessary to be into history to understand its power: Our world is still the world Reséndez so eloquently anatomizes." —Los Angeles Times 

     

    "No other book before has so thoroughly rleated the broad history of Indian slavery in the Americas, and not just its facts but the very reason it has been overlooked." —San Francisco Chronicle 

     

    "Reséndez is adept at untangling the intertribal slave trade, as well as the pernicious behavior of white settlers in northern California."—Philadelphia Inquirer 

     

    "With his new book, Reséndez joins a small but growing group of historians reexamining the scope and nutre of slavery in the Southwest and Native America."—Santa Fe New Mexican 

     

    "The Other Slavery is an eye-opening story about the enslavement of Indians. It is well researched and well written—a tragic, but fascinating look at a little explored dark corner of New World history." —eMissourian 

     

    “Every now and then a new book comes along that throws a switch on our historical valences and makes us see ourselves anew. The Other Slavery is one such book. Much as Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee did when it first appeared in the early 1970s, Andrés Reséndez's carefully sifted work fundamentally reshapes our understanding of a great enduring mystery: What really accounts for the swift and tragic demise of our continent's indigenous peoples?” 

    —Hampton Sides, author of Blood and Thunder and In the Kingdom of Ice 

     

    “In The Other Slavery Andrés Reséndez retells a vast section of Native American and North American history by putting forced labor in its multiple forms at the center. The result is a revealing, tragic, and heartbreaking history.” 

    —Richard White, Margaret Byrne Professor of American History, Stanford University 

     

    "The Other Slavery is a necessary work that occupies a loaded historical landscape; Reséndez keeps a deliberate scholarly distance from the material, bringing forth evidence and constructing careful — even conservative — arguments. But that evidence speaks for itself, and the horrors quietly pile up." 

    — NPR.org 

     

    "We all know that Christopher Columbus and his successors enslaved the natives in the New World. Reséndez (History/Univ. of California, Davis; A Land So Strange: The Epic Journey of Cabeza de Vaca, 2009, etc.) exposes the broad brush that the "other slavery" wielded. The extinction of the indigenous peoples of America is usually written off as the effect of diseases introduced by Spanish soldiers and colonists. Not so, says the author; it took only 60 years after Columbus' discovery for a cataclysmic population collapse. They died from slavery, overwork, and famine. Reséndez examines the methods of enslavement, from the 15th-century Caribbean to 19th-century California, and his approachable style eases reading difficult personal stories of slavery and cruelty. That there are so many individual stories illustrates the author's wide-ranging research. Columbus initially intended to transport Indians to Europe in a "reverse middle passage," but he was thwarted by Ferdinand and Isabella's opposition to slavery as well as the need for labor in the mines. In 1542, the Spanish crown passed the New Laws, outlawing slavery, and procuradores, specialist lawyers, were appointed to sue for freedom of those illegally enslaved. Reséndez shows how inconvenient laws were bypassed. First, the parameters of who could be enslaved were not necessarily strictly defined. While the royals insisted their people be treated as vassals, those who enslaved them just changed the nomenclature and methods. Colonists were granted encomiendas, grants of Indians to overlords, or repartimientos, compulsory labor drafts. The growth of peonage—debt slavery—provided even more slave labor. Eventually, Mexican silver mines turned to New Mexico to supply slaves, which gives the author the opportunity to provide the history of peoples in the Southwest. As the Mormons bought slaves to "civilize" them, the Spanish initially enslaved people to "Christianize" them. Both merely created an underclass. This eye-opening exposure of the abuse of the indigenous peoples of America is staggering; that the mistreatment continued into the 20th century is beyond disturbing." 

    Kirkus 

     

    "Reséndez (A Land So Strange), a professor of history at the University of California, Davis, details the ways in which Native Americans were subjected to enslavement throughout the Americas. When the U.S. gained California and other southwestern territories from Mexico in 1848, it also acquired a significant number of Indian slaves who were “entrapped by a distinct brand of bondage… perpetrated by colonial Spain and inherited by Mexico.” This form of enslavement ran parallel to that endured by people of African descent throughout colonial Latin America and, Reséndez argues, generated an even more disastrous population loss. He notes the ways in which the “other slavery” defies simple definitions, relating how it was so widespread and deeply rooted in the economy and society of the Americas that it lasted even longer than that of African slavery, persisting in the guise of debt peonage into the 20th century. Emphasizing the variety of experiences of unfree labor suffered over five centuries by individuals from communities as culturally diverse and geographically separate as the Maya, the Apache, and indigenous Caribbeans, Reséndez vividly recounts the harrowing story of a previously little-known aspect of the histories of American slavery and of encounters between indigenes and invaders. " 

    Publisher's Weekly 

     

    "Today, with the complex and myriad effects of globalization frequently in the news, human trafficking has managed to endure. The Other Slavery both reminds and cautions: Man’s inhumanity to man is still making history." 

    Book Page 

     

    “At a time when we are struggling to come to grips with the legacy of our long-time African slavery experience, it is only right that we should also acknowledge and inform ourselves of the human tragedy endured by the indigenous people of this hemisphere from Columbus’ first contact to the present.” 

    — New York Journal of Books

  • excerpts

    Caribbean Debacle 

      

    Indian slavery poses a fundamental demographic puzzle. The first Europeans in the New World found a thriving archipelago: islands large and small covered by lush vegetation, teeming with insects and birds, and alive with humans. The Caribbean was “a beehive of people” wrote Bartolomé de Las Casas, the most well known of the region’s early chroniclers, who accompanied several expeditions of discovery. “As we saw with our own eyes,” he added, “all of these islands were densely populated with natives called Indians.” The people who greeted Columbus were indeed plentiful. Modern scholars have proposed wildly varying population estimates for the Caribbean, ranging from one hundred thousand to ten million. But while the initial population is debatable, no one doubts the cataclysmic collapse that followed. By the 1550s, a mere sixty years, or two generations, after contact, the Natives so memorably described by Columbus as “affectionate and without malice” and having “very straight legs and no bellies” had ceased to exist as a people, and many Caribbean islands became eerie uninhabited paradises. 

     

    As every schoolchild knows, epidemic disease was a major reason for this devastation. Europeans introduced pathogens to which the Natives had little or no resistance, triggering “virgin soil” epidemics. It was like “dropping lighted matches into tinder,” wrote Alfred W. Crosby in his pioneering work on the depopulation of early America. Measles, 

    malaria, yellow fever, influenza, and above all smallpox ravaged the indigenous population in deadly bouts that spread across the islands. Surely some Indians succumbed in pitched battles against the white intruders, who, after all, possessed superior steel weapons and unmatched mobility with their horses. But by far the Spaniards’ most devastating weapon was germs. 

     

    And yet there is a profound disconnection between this biological explanation and what sixteenth-century Europeans reported. The Dominican friar Bartolomé de Las Casas, who arrived in the New World in 1502, averred that greed was the reason Christians “murdered on such a vast scale,” killing “anyone and everyone who has shown the slightest sign of resistance,” and subjecting “all males to the harshest and most iniquitous and brutal slavery that man has ever devised for oppressing his fellow-men, treating them, in fact, worse than animals.” It is true that Las Casas was a passionate defender of Indian rights and therefore had every reason to dwell on Spanish brutality. But we do not have to take his word for it. Early chroniclers, crown officials, and settlers all understood the extinction of the Indians as a result of warfare, enslavement, famine, and overwork, as well as disease. King Ferdinand of Spain—no Indian champion and probably the most well-informed individual of that era—believed that so many Natives died in the early years because, lacking beasts of burden, the Spaniards “had forced the Indians to carry excessive loads until they broke them down.” 

     

    Early sources do not mention smallpox until 1518, a full twenty-six years after Columbus first arrived in the Caribbean. This was no oversight. Sixteenth-century Spaniards were quite familiar with smallpox’s symptoms and lived in constant fear of diseases of any kind. They were keenly aware, for example, that having sex with Indian women could cause el mal de las búas (literally, “the illness of the pustules,” or syphilis), which afflicted several of Columbus’s mariners and spread throughout Italy and Spain immediately on their return. As early as 1493, colonists in the Caribbean also reported an illness that affected both Indians and Spaniards and was characterized by high fevers, body aches, and prostration—clinical signs that point perhaps to swine flu. Influenza is usually benign, although it is capable of mutating into deadlier forms resulting in pandemics. The famous “Spanish flu” pandemic of 1918, which wreaked havoc around the world, is only one example. Early Caribbean sources do not describe an influenza pandemic, but merely an influenza-like disease of some concern. There is no mention of smallpox or any other clear episode of mass death among the Natives until a quarter of a century after Columbus’s first voyage. Of course, it is impossible to rule out entirely the possibility of major outbreaks that went unreported, but the documentation suggests that the worst epidemics did not affect the New World immediately. 

     

    The late arrival of smallpox actually makes perfect sense. Smallpox was endemic in the Old World, which means that the overwhelming majority of Europeans were exposed to the virus in childhood, resulting in one of two outcomes: death or recovery and lifelong immunity. Thus the likelihood of a ship carrying an infected passenger was low. And even if this were to happen, the voyage from Spain to the Caribbean in the sixteenth century lasted five or six weeks, a sufficiently long time in which any infected person would die along the way or become immune (and no longer contagious). There were only two ways for the virus to survive such a long passage. One was for a vessel to carry both a person already infected and a susceptible host who contracted the illness en route and lived long enough to disembark in the Caribbean. The odds of this happening were minuscule—around two percent according to a back-of-the-envelope calculation by the demographer Massimo Livi Bacci. The second possibility was that an infected passenger left behind the live virus in scabs that fell off his body. Since smallpox has now been eliminated from the face of the earth except in some labs, no one really knows how long the virus could have survived outside the body under the conditions of a sixteenth-century sailing vessel. But even if the virus had remained active aboard a Spanish ship that reached the New World, it would still have had to find its way into a suitable host. In short, far from strange, a delayed onset of smallpox in the New World is precisely what we would expect. 

     

    Well before smallpox was first detected in the Caribbean, the Native islanders found themselves on a path to extinction. “La Isla Española,” the island now shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic, was the first home of Europeans in the New World. It is a very large landmass, about the size of South Carolina, which at the time of contact was dotted with as many as five or six hundred Indian villages—an extreme dispersion that would have militated against the spread of disease. Typically, these were small settlements of a few extended families, except for a handful of communities that had a thousand people or more—no Aztec or Inca cities, but substantial villages nonetheless. Friar Las Casas put Española’s total population at “more than three million,” but given the island’s carrying capacity, the archaeological remains, and early Spanish population counts, a more realistic number would be perhaps two or three hundred thousand. By 1508, however, that figure had fallen to 60,000; by 1514 it stood at merely 26,000, according to a fairly comprehensive census (no longer guesswork); and by 1517 the number had plunged to just 11,000. In other words, one year before Europeans began reporting smallpox, Española’s Indian population had dwindled to five percent or less of what it had been in 1492. Clearly, the Native islanders were well on their way to a total demographic collapse when smallpox appeared to deliver the coup de grace.

Available Resources

Related Categories

  • Format: eBook

  • ISBN-13/EAN: 9780544602670

  • ISBN-10: 0544602676

  • Pages: 448

  • Price: $9.99

  • Publication Date: 04/12/2016

  • Carton Quantity: 1

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