Slavery and the Making of America is a four-part series documenting the history of American slavery from its beginnings in the British colonies to its end in the Southern states and the years of post-Civil War Reconstruction. Drawing on a wealth of recent scholarship, it looks at slavery as an integral part of a developing nation, challenging the long held notion that slavery was exclusively a Southern enterprise. At the same time, by focusing on the remarkable stories of individual slaves, it offers new perspectives on the slave experience and testifies to the active role that Africans and African Americans took in surviving their bondage and shaping their own lives.
Runtime: 55 minutes
Slavery and the Making of America - Slavery among Native Americans in the United States - Netflix
Slavery among Native Americans in the United States includes slavery by Native Americans as well as slavery of Native Americans roughly within the present-day United States. Tribal territories and the slave trade ranged over present-day borders. Some Native American tribes held war captives as slaves prior to and during European colonization, some Native Americans were captured and sold by others into slavery to Europeans, and a small number of tribes, in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, adopted the practice of holding slaves as chattel property and held increasing numbers of African-American slaves. Pre-contact forms of slavery were generally distinct from the form of chattel slavery developed by Europeans in North America during the colonial period. European influence greatly changed slavery used by Native Americans. As they raided other tribes to capture slaves for sales to Europeans, they fell into destructive wars among themselves, and against Europeans.
Slavery and the Making of America - Traditions of Native American slavery - Netflix
Many Native American tribes practiced some form of slavery before the European introduction of African slavery into North America. Native American groups often enslaved war captives whom they primarily used for small-scale labor. Others however, were used in ritual sacrifice, usually involving torture as part of religious rites, and these sometimes involved ritual cannibalism. There were several differences between slavery as practiced in the pre-colonial era among Native Americans and slavery as practiced by Europeans after colonization. Whereas Europeans eventually came to look upon slaves of African descent as being racially inferior, Native Americans took slaves from other Native American groups, and therefore did not have the same racial ideology for their slavery. Native slaves could be looked down upon as ethnically inferior, however. Another difference was that Native Americans did not buy and sell captives in the pre-colonial era, although they sometimes exchanged enslaved individuals with other tribes in peace gestures or in exchange for redeeming their own members. In some cases, Native American slaves were allowed to live on the fringes of Native American society until they were slowly integrated into the tribe. The word “slave” may not accurately apply to such captive people. The ways in which captives were treated differed widely between Native American groups. Captives could be enslaved for life, killed, or adopted. In some cases, captives were only adopted after a period of slavery. For example, the Iroquoian peoples (not just the Iroquois tribes) often adopted captives, but for religious reasons there was a process, procedures, and many seasons when such adoptions were delayed until the proper spiritual times. In many cases, new tribes adopted captives to replace warriors killed during a raid. Warrior captives were sometimes made to undergo ritual mutilation or torture that could end in death as part of a spiritual grief ritual for relatives slain in battle. Adoptees, ironically, were expected to fill the economic, military, and familial roles of the departed loved ones, to fit into the societal shoes of the dead relative and maintain the spirit power of the tribe. Some Native Americans would cut off one foot of captives to keep them from running away. Others allowed enslaved male captives to marry the widows of slain husbands. The Creek, who engaged in this practice and had a matrilineal system, treated children born of slaves and Creek women as full members of their mothers' clans and of the tribe, as property and hereditary leadership passed through the maternal line. The children did not have slave status. In the cultural practices of the Iroquoian peoples, also rooted in a matrilineal system with men and women having equal value, any child would have the status determined by the woman's clan. More typically, tribes took women and children captives for adoption, as they tended to adapt more easily into new ways. Several tribes held captives as hostages for payment. Various tribes also practiced debt slavery or imposed slavery on tribal members who had committed crimes; full tribal status would be restored as the enslaved worked off their obligations to the tribal society. Other slave-owning tribes of North America included Comanche of Texas, the Creek of Georgia; the fishing societies, such as the Yurok, who lived in Northern California; the Pawnee, and the Klamath. When the Europeans made contact with the Native Americans, they began to participate in the slave trade. Native Americans, in their initial encounters with the Europeans, attempted to use their captives from enemy tribes as a “method of playing one tribe against another” in an unsuccessful game of divide and conquer. The Haida and Tlingit who lived along southeast Alaska's coast were traditionally known as fierce warriors and slave-traders, raiding as far as California. In their society, slavery was hereditary after slaves were taken as prisoners of war. Among some Pacific Northwest tribes, as many as one-fourth of the population were slaves.
Slavery and the Making of America - References - Netflix