Shelf Help: 'The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America'

Not the slavery you learned about in high school.
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The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America. (Photo: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America. (Photo: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America
Andrés Reséndez
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

From the moment Europeans arrived in North America, they were enslaving, buying, and selling the people they found there. Spain outlawed Native American slavery in 1542, but it persisted anyway, preserved by a vast, cross-cultural latticework of institutions that dressed up human bondage in other names. According to Andrés Reséndez, a professor at the University of California–Davis, the clandestine nature of the institution has made it hard for his fellow historians to take its full measure—at least 2.5 million people enslaved—and analyze its impact. Enslavement, Reséndez suggests, was just as significant as disease in decimating native populations across the continent. This probably isn't the slavery you learned about in high school, which is a shame: As Reséndez convincingly argues, the endurance of Native American slavery as an open secret offers insights into the persistence of contemporary human trafficking networks today.

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