Amerindian Slave Trade and the Hidden Native American
This one article will do more to open your eyes to a hidden aspect of history in the Americas, one that saw AMERINDIANS being the FIRST and the LAST human beings to be sold as slaves in the Americas – and as recently as 100 years ago also, when 30,000 Amazon Indian SLAVES were killed as slaves for the American Rubber industry (Big business that seeks profit at any human cost was the culprit once again).
It will also reveal how there are descendants of native tribes from all over North America & South America in the Caribbean islands (ESPECIALLY BARBADOS) today – who have no clue of the native DNA in their veins. Any white Barbadian who can trace his local white ancestors back to the years 1625-1700 in Barbados – will almost certainly have some degree of Amerindian DNA in them, whether they want to admit it or not….so common was the practice (recorded by many credible historical sources during this period) of English settler men in Barbados having Amerindian wives & ‘half breed’ children (that were recorded as ‘white’ upon baptism records) – who were captured elsewhere (North America, South America etc, and sold into slavery on this island. Even the infamous ‘Salem Witch Trials’ have a Barbados Island and Guyana ARAWAK Indian origin most people today are completely unaware of….until they read this article and the facts I lay out below.
Here is but one incident from the history of slavery in North America. In 1637, a group of Pequot Indians, men and boys, having risen up against English colonists in Connecticut and been defeated, were sold to plantations in the West Indies in exchange for African slaves, allowing the colonists to remove a resistant element from their midst. (The tribe’s women were pressed into service in white homes in New England, where domestic workers were sorely lacking).
How common was it for Indians to be enslaved by Euro-Americans? Counting can be difficult, because many instances of Native enslavement in the Colonial period were illegal or ad hoc and left no paper trail. But historians have tried. A few of their estimates: Thousands of Indians were enslaved in Colonial New England, according to Margaret Ellen Newell. Alan Gallay writes that between 1670 and 1715, more Indians were exported into slavery through Charles Town (now Charleston, South Carolina) than Africans were imported. Brett Rushforth recently attempted a tally of the total numbers of enslaved, and he told me that he thinks 2 million to 4 million indigenous people in the Americas, North and South, may have been enslaved over the centuries that the practice prevailed—a much larger number than had previously been thought. “It’s not on the level of the African slave trade,” which brought 10 million people to the Americas, but the earliest history of the European colonies in the Americas is marked by Native bondage. “If you go up to about 1680 or 1690 there still, by that period, had been more enslaved Indians than enslaved Africans in the Americas.”
A young Amazon Indian slave bares horrific scars of the Rubber Boom A young Amazon Indian slave bares horrific scars of the Rubber Boom Credit: © R Casement
A young Amazon Indian slave bares horrific scars of the Rubber Boom A young Amazon Indian slave bares horrific scars of the Rubber Boom
The practice dates back to the earliest history of the European colonies in the future United States. Take the example of the Pequot who were enslaved in 1637 after clashing with the English. As Newell writes in a new book, Brethren by Nature: New England Indians, Colonists, and the Origins of American Slavery, by the time the ship Desire transported the defeated Pequot men and boys to the Caribbean, colonists in New England, desperate for bodies and hands to supplement their own meager workforce, had spent years trying out various strategies of binding Native labor.
During the Pequot War, which was initially instigated by struggles over trade and land among the Europeans, the Pequot, and rival tribes, colonists explicitly named the procurement of captives as one of their goals.
Rushforth points to instances of Apaches and other Plains peoples being sold, through Quebec, to the Caribbean. “There were Plains Apaches who showed up on sugar plantations in Martinique,” he said.
Snyder points to the story of the Westo Indians, a group originally from around Lake Erie, who spoke an Iroquoian language. They left the North in the middle of the 17th century, and moved to the Southeast. “But then the colonists got anxious, or they were afraid that this group was too powerful,” Snyder said; in 1680, a group of Carolinians armed the Savannah Indians and empowered them to break the Westos’ strength in the area. The remaining Westos were, themselves, sold to the Caribbean as slaves.
* Excerpts above from a January 18th 2016 article by Rebecca Onion
BUT WAIT – AMAZONIAN INDIANS WERE STILL BEING ENSLAVED LESS THAN 100 YEARS AGO – LONG AFTER AFRICAN SLAVERY IN THE AMERICAS ENDED!
Sky-rocketing demand for Amazonian rubber was kick-started when US company Goodyear discovered vulcanization – a process that makes rubber hard enough to use for car tires. The breakthrough gave rise to the first mass production of cars by industry leader, Ford.
In just 12 years, Casement estimated that 30,000 indigenous people had been enslaved, tortured, and murdered to provide for Europe and the United States’ growing demand for rubber.
‘We are sent far, far into the forest to get rubber, and if we do not get it, or if we do not get it quickly enough, we are shot,’ Omarino told the Daily News.
Many of today’s uncontacted Indians are descended from the survivors of the rubber boom atrocities, who fled into remote headwaters to escape the killings, torture and epidemics that decimated the indigenous population.
After receiving the photographs of her ancestors, Fany told Survival, ‘Every nation did its bit to exterminate indigenous people: Colombia neglected them; Peru was mastermind and accomplice to the holocaust; England financed it, and Brazil uprooted Indians to work on the rubber plantations.’
It is not known what became of the two slaves, whose parting words to the Daily News were, ‘London is very wonderful, but the great river and the forest, where the birds fly, is more beautiful. One day we shall go back.’ It is not known whether either returned home.
Survival International Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘The rubber boom may seem like remote history, but its effect is still with us. When the West began its marriage to the motor car, its love letters were written in Indian blood. It provoked a gross crime against humanity which was perpetrated by a British company in the Witoto area. The parallel should not be exaggerated, but today there are still British companies, such as Vedanta Resources, planning the theft of tribal land, this time in India. It’s time to put a stop to these crimes and start treating tribal people like human beings.’
* Excerpt above from Survival International.
HERE ARE SOME MORE FACTS ON THE USA- CARIBBEAN AMERINDIAN SLAVERY YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW:
In the American South, European slave traders, mostly British colonists who arrived there via the Caribbean island of Barbados – operating out of Charles Town (now called Charleston) – the city they founded, in South Carolina, engaged in a thriving business selling enslaved native Americans who were made to walk all the way from the interior locations where they were captured – to waiting ships that would carry them to Barbados, New York, Antigua and other ports in the Atlantic world, where they would spend the rest of their lives working as slaves for Europeans.
The numbers are difficult to calculate but an estimate of 50,000, perhaps more, American Indians were exported from Charleston alone. Thousands more were exported from ports like Boston and Salem, and on a much smaller scale, by the French from New Orleans. Untold numbers, which scholars are just beginning to calculate, will ultimately include the thousands who were not exported from their region but lived out their lives as slaves on plantations in Virginia, as farm laborers in Connecticut and as domestic servants in New France.
Although the scale of enslavement pales in comparison to the African slave trade in general, it is notable that from 1670 to 1717, far more American Indians were exported from Charleston as slaves – than Africans were imported as slaves. Scholars have long known about the Indian slave trade, but the scattered nature of the sources deterred a systematic examination. No one had any conception of the trade’s massive extent and that it played such a central role in the lives of early Americans and in the colonial economy.
Most importantly we can now tell the stories – the tragedies – that befell so many who were killed in slaving wars or spent their days as slaves far from their homes. They and their peoples have been largely forgotten. The Natchez, Westo, Yamasee, Euchee, Yazoo and Tawasa Tribes are among the dozens of Indian peoples who fell victims to the slaving wars, with survivors forced to join other native communities to survive.
Indian slavery is an important part of South Carolinas history that many know nothing about (all we hear is about the Barbados-Carolinas connection’ as if it was some ‘great thing’ to celebrate….a group of racist English slave traders in the Carolinas AND in Barbados destroying entire tribes of people – for personal profit…..tell us about THAT why don’t you?).
No other state has as many historic documents that chronicles Native American slavery as South Carolina. As the historian Lauber concludes – American Indian slaves were most numerous in South Carolina and the number of Indians exported was larger than that from any other colony.
Indian slavery in colonial South Carolina made a large and indelible mark upon the tribal histories of the American Indians not only of South Carolina, but of the Southeastern United States. In short, the destiny of many of the American Indian Tribes of the region was influenced and determined by Indian Affairs which centered in Charleston.
Indian slave trade was expanded when a Scottish Colony was started in Port Royal island South Carolina in 1684. The first law relating solely to slavery was passed in 1691. This law was operative for almost two decades. The Assembly passed a regulation for slaves so comprehensive that it deserves to be called South Carolina’s first slave code. Much of the verbiage for this slave code was borrowed, in large part, from the Barbados Slave Code of 1688. The South Carolina statute defined any Negro, Mulatto or Indian who had been bought or sold as such, to be a slave, and the status of slave was extended to the children of such persons.
Although some historians contend that Indian slavery (in the USA) dwindled after the Yamasee war of 1715-1716, but quite the opposite is true. There were now even more Indians to be slaves and their labor was in demand. There was an estimate of more than 2,000 Indian slaves in South Carolina in 1724. Indian slaves were branded like cattle…with the most common spot for branding men was on their right or left breast, with the first and last initials of the owner.
* Excerpt above from William Moreau Goins Ph.D.
The Great Sachem/Chief Metacomet (aka ‘King Phillip’) of the Wampanoag – his wife Nanuskooke and only child – a 9 year old son, were sold into slavery in Barbados…where the descendant of his bloodline may still exist – unawares of this ancestry – to this day.
We all read about the notorious Amerindians slavery the Spaniards unleashed in the Greater Antilles & the Bahamas on Taino-Arawaks, but here are some more that we do NOT hear about in our history books in chronological order:
1511 – King Ferdinand of Spain issued an authorization in December of this year for the taking of Amerindian slaves from Barbados, the vast majority of local Igneri-Arawaks were captured by Spanish slave raiding ships and sent to Hispaniola where they were worked to death.
1518 – King Charles V of Spain wrote to Rodrigo de Figueros (the Judge he sent to Hispaniola) – and instructed him that the Igneri-Arawaks taken from Barbados to Hispaniola were to be treated as the natives of Hispaniola (the Taino-Arawaks) were being treated.
1585 – A Ruttiers publication mentions an advertisement referring to the islands of ‘Barbudos’ at 13 degrees latitude north (the exact position of Barbados which at that time was 2 islands, the smaller ‘Pelican Island’ was only joined to the main island in the last 60 years). It also mentions that the Dutch had captured and taken the LAST Igneri-Arawaks they found on Barbados with them to start the Guiana colony.
1626 – Sir William Courteen claimed Barbados for the Crown of England and financed a settlement with 80 Europeans and 10 African slaves, later the same year another 90 European settlers (with a few kidnapped pubescent English girls this time) were sent to the colony. Also later this same year 40 Igneri-Arawaks from the Dutch colony in Guiana were sent to Barbados as the English had paid for the Dutch to send them to teach the English how to plant cassava and Tobacco…elders among these 40 Igneri-Arawaks it is recorded, told Captain Powell that their ancestors had formerly lived on Barbados and they were taken to Guyana against their will by the Dutchmen.
1628 – James Hay, the Earl of Carlisle, who had secured patents for Barbados from King Charles I of England, sent Captain Wolverstone to Barbados with 64 men – who immediately enslaved the 40 Igneri-Arawaks that had been peacefully teaching the settlers how to plant Cassava and Tobacco.
One Arawak escaped and returned to Guyana on a Dutch ship and told the tale to his tribe – the result created such anger among the Lokono-Arawaks of Guyana (who spoke the same language as the Igneri and considered them to merely be the island dwelling branch on the tribe – not a separate people) that they threatened to kill EVERY Dutch person in Guyana if the 39 remaining enslaved Igneri-Arawaks in Barbados were not released and returned to Guyana…the Dutch Governor had to marry the daughter of a powerful Kalina-Carib Chief in Guyana in order to get that tribe to protect him….but he still had to pay the English colonists in Barbados a ransom to get the Igneri-Arawaks back.
NB – I personally feel that ‘Igneri’ is just a ‘European-ear corruption of ‘Kairi’ – which in Lokono-Arawak just means ‘Island’…as in the context of describing yourself as ‘Kairi-Lokono’ (which means in our language ‘Island People’ or ‘People of our tribe who live on the islands’…just as you kave Kuna who live on mainland Panama and Kuna who live on offshore islands, same tribe of people – not two separate ones), and the ‘Lokono’ suffix was simply dropped from the familiar linguistic laziness endemic in humans who encounter words of a culture different to them….for no-one disputes the fact that the Lokono of Guyana spoke the SAME language as the so-called ‘Igneri – and furthermore were even willing to go to war to rescue them….not a behavior that one normally sees from one tribe for a separate tribe of people…..but common for one people to rally in defence of their OWN people – in this manner.
You have to remember that Europeans in these times recorded words as they sounded to each INDIVIDUAL scribe, we told the English we call a certain fruit ‘Sarosaka’ and the English wrote down the name ‘Sour-sop’ that you know today JUST FOR EXAMPLE PROOF…so a scribe next door might hear ‘Corrie’ and write it down as ‘Corry’/’Curray’, ‘Kori’/’Koree’ etc….leaving you the reader today to assume that the documents were referring to 5 different people – when in fact it was one man who’s name was spelled as the 5 different persons hearing it ‘felt’ it was spelled. Furthermore – NO native tribe of the Americas had a written Alphabetical language in use in the this time period of reference in human history. ‘Kairi’ to ‘Igneri’ is not anything too difficult to logically expect from European scribes.
1632 – A CLUE YEAR – the ‘Heavy intoxication of European settlers from Amerindian made Cassava-beer in Barbados was noted by Campbell. Only Amerindian women know to make Cassava alcohol and no Sugar Cane Rum was yet being produced in Barbados. It points to the fact that there were still Amerindian women in Barbados creating it for the Europeans.
1636 – ANOTHER CLUE YEAR – The Barbados Council resolved that ‘Indians and Negroes should serve their English masters for life – unless a contract had been made prior’. Obviously there had to have been Amerindians (aka ‘Indians’ in these days) in Barbados to necessitate such a law.
1637 – During the war against the Pequot Tribe in North America orders were given to kill all the Pequot men and take the women and children prisoner – to be sold in Barbados and other English colonies. The almost white-skinned (sallow hue ‘yellow’) Susquehannock Indians were also exiled to the island of Barbados, Bequia and Bimini in this year…and they were the source of the name ‘Ecky-Beckies’.
1634 – Whites in an official Barbados census numbered 37,000 and there were 6,000 African slaves and an unrecorded number (estimated to be in the low thousands) of Amerindian women from North & South America and the Caribbean -who were wives of the English settlers in Barbados.
1652 – The German Heinrich Von Uchteritz who was living in Barbados at the time recorded that ‘Most Barbadian born persons were half English/half Amerindians of sallow complexion’.
1657 – Richard Ligon who had lived in Barbados in 1647 – published a history of Barbados and he clearly stated that the English men preferred Amerindian women as wives and the practice was widespread on the island, he also noted that African slaves were used as field labour and Amerindian men were used as fishermen “for they were much better at it”.
1664 – Governor John Yeamans led a party of Englishmen colonists from Barbados to start the English colonies of the Carolinas in the USA, they immediately started slave raids on the Westo and Stono tribes…and the captives they obtained were sold or traded in Barbados at great financial profit – with local whites taking the women as wives and concubines or trading the men for African slaves.
1667 – Barbados was such a major and notorious hub of Amerindian slavery in the Caribbean that according to Forbes, the term ‘to Barbadoes’ someone – was synonymous with being kidnapped and expelled to the Caribbean
1668 – In the Price Deposition English Governor Willoughby of Barbados reported on the ‘longstanding and rampant kidnapping of Amerindian women from Dutch Guiana (primarily Lokono-Arawaks).
1671 – Quaker George Fox visited Barbados and reported that ‘the majority of English settler families had Amerindian wives/mothers. In this same year the Barbadian English colonist settlers of the Carolinas were enslaving the Kusso Tribe and exporting them for sale in Barbados – and that their mixed race children were recorded as ‘white’ on their day of Baptism….thereby eliminating any paper trail for all the present day white Barbadians to be able to trace back their hidden Amerindian ancestry!
1674 – Captain Peter Wroth set sail from Barbados on his ship the ‘Savoy’ for the Dutch Guiana coastline in South America, he had a legal mandate from Barbados English Governor Lord Willoughby and his successor in 1673 – Sir Peter Colleton…’to capture Arawak Indians for sale in Barbados’.
In this same year the Barbadian English colonist settlers of the Carolinas were also enslaving the Sowee and Apalachee tribes and exporting them to Barbados for the Amerindian slave market.
* 1675 – Samuel Parris who owned a successful sugar plantation in Barbados (as did his brother Thomas Parris), purchased two Lokono-Arawak Indians (one older female and one younger male) that were captured together the year before by Captain Peter Wroth’s slave raiding expedition to the Guianas, he renamed them both as ‘John Indian (for the male) and ‘Tituba’ (for the female). This is the woman so often MISREPRESENTED as a African slave in the fanciful re-telling of the infamous ‘Salem Witch Trials’…see years 1680, 1689, and 1692 below to get your facts straight on this LOKONO-ARAWAK woman at the centre of this real historical drama. I can even tell you a fact that the people who want to portray her erroneously as an African woman do NOT know, namely that ‘Tituba’ means the same as ‘Aunty’ in the Lokono-Arawak language, and Parris assumed this was her name because the younger Arawak man he purchased – who was captured with her on the coastline in Guyana – was either her actual blood nephew – or merely any younger male in the tribe – who as was custom (and still is in our tribe) would refer to her with this term of endearment only – and never by her real name (for that would be the height of disrespect), hence he heard ‘John’ referring to her as ‘Tituba’ incessantly, and Parris logically concluded (since he was NOT a speaker of the Lokono-Arawak language) – that her name must be ‘Tituba’…..case closed.
ALSO in 1675 – 160 Wampanoag Indians were captured in the USA and exported to Barbados – where they were sold and traded for African slaves.
Among these 160 Wampanoag’s were the Great Chief Metacomet’s (aka ‘King Philip’) wife Nanuskooke and their young son, they were sold for 1 pound sterling each and purchased by a local English planter. In all 900 Wampanoag Indians were sold as slaves in Barbados, in this year Major Scott wrote of observing ‘light skinned slaves without shirts or shoes being driven by overseers in Barbados with African slaves.
* 1680 – Samuel Parris immigrated to Boston, Massachusetts USA with his family AND the two Arawak Indian slaves he purchased five years earlier in Barbados.
1682 – The Spanish Governor of Florida wrote that ‘The English of South Carolina were capturing Native Florida Indians from the Spanish missions to sell as slaves in the island of Barbados.
Early plantation deeds in Barbados DO record Amerindian slaves with Spanish names arriving in Barbados in this period.
* 1689 – The now ‘Reverend’ Samuel Parris moves to Salem and founded his own Puritan Church.
* 1692 – Reverend Samuel Parris discovers his female Arawak Indian slave ‘Tituba’ performing a ritual (what I recognize as merely a traditional Lokono-Arawak puberty rite of passage – since my own daughter had one done for her herself by her grandmother & mother when she was 13, and it is THE most sacred & important ceremony for a young female that takes her from girlhood to womanhood) for his daughter Elizabeth, his niece Abigail – and two other of their friends Ann Putnam and Elizabeth Hubbard.
Parris being an ULTRA conservative ‘Fire & Brimstone’ Bible-thumping religious nut-job immediately imagined the ritual that included a fire, Tobacco smoke and nudity, to be some ‘Devil practice’ and he accused Tituba of being a witch….and THIS was the origin of the infamous Salem Witch Trials – in which 19 innocent men and women were hanged for practicing ‘Witchcraft’.
1707 – An account printed in London by Governor John Archdale – reported that Yamasee Indians who were under English Governance in the American Colonies – were ‘kidnapped by Spanish raiders who sold them as slaves to Barbados as was usual’.
1708 – Native Americans from as far away as Illinois such as members of the Ute Tribe, were being captured and exported to Barbados for sale or trade by the English settlers of the Carolinas.
1739 – SEMI-FINAL CLUE – The Barbados Parliament enacted legislation permitting slaves to give evidence against the three categories non-white peoples existing in Barbados at the time – free Negroes, Amerindians, and Mulattos (who were recognized as mixtures of white & Negro, white & Amerindian or Negro & Amerindian)).
1783 – FINAL CLUE AS TO THE AMERINDIAN PRESENCE IN BARBADOS THAT IS ABSENT FROM OUR HISTORY LESSONS The Barbados Mercury newspaper published a notice for a runaway slave who escaped from the plantation of Samuel Mapp, a dark complexioned Amerindian called ‘James’, who was reported to be about five feet six inches tall.
NB – My Arawak grandmother lived on what was the former plantation lands of Samuel Mapp (later known as ‘Mapps College’ in my youth as it was turned into a private boy’s school, and several of my part Lokono-Arawak/part European cousins went to school there…and ALL of us used to go into the ancient Arawak Cave shrine (the most sacred traditional native site on the South East of the island of Barbados) between his property at the Bailey’s Plantation…but I was the only one in my family to conduct traditional Lokono-Arawak ceremonies in this cave-shrine in God only knows how long….I even invited 2 Kalinagos (Irvince & Kent Auguiste), 2 Wapishanas (Alma O’Connel & Ena Adrian), 1 Makushi (Eugene Isaac), 1 Akawaio (Desrey Fox), 1 Lokono (Gene La-Rose) and 1 Mayan elder (Micaela Wewe) to join me (so 9 of us in all) in a ceremony in this cave-shrine in 1994; to honor the ancestors (as 9 is a traditional Holy number in my own Eagle Clan of the Lokono-Arawak Tribe).