Episode 2, Season 2
Millions of Indigenous people lived in North America before European colonial powers invaded. Along with an insatiable desire for free labor, Europeans brought a system of slavery that significantly differed from the historical practices of enslavement among Native nations. Historian Christina Snyder tells the story of what happened when these worlds collided. European concepts of bondage transformed the way Native nations interacted with each other, resulted in the enslavement and death of millions of Indigenous people, and sparked widespread resistance by Native nations.
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Resources and Resources
- Learning for Justice: Lesson, Rethinking Discovery
- Learning for Justice: I am the Blood of the Conqueror, I am the Blood of the Conquered
- Learning for Justice: Stowage on the Slave Ship Brooks, 1788
- Wikipedia: Requerimiento: The Spanish Requirement of 1513
McCabe Greer Professor of History, Penn State University
- Slavery in Indian Country: The Changing Face of Captivity in Early America
- Great Crossings; Indians, Settlers, and Slaves in the Age of Jackson
- Learning for Justice: Lesson, Precolumbian Native Peoples and Technology
- Doctrine of Discovery
- Learning for Justice: The Atlantic Slave Trade what too few textbooks told you
- U.S. Supreme Court, Johnson V. M’Intosh
- Wikipedia: Requerimiento: The Spanish Requirement of 1513
- Mapping the Mississippian Shatter Zone: The Colonial Indian Slave Trade and Regional Instability in the American South
- Sarah Shear, Social Studies & Multicultural Education, University of Washington-Bothell
Hasan K. Jeffries: When opening day finally arrived, my girls and I headed to the movies. I didn’t break out the high-African fashion like my good friend, the brother Doctor Charles McKinney, down in Memphis, Tennessee, who, along with his wife, the most elegant and regal Nat, went full Wakanda to the theater. But I did at least wear my Lowndes County Freedom Organization hoodie, which is emblazoned with a snarling black panther, the logo of the original Black Panther party.
Black Panther, the movie, did not disappoint. It was action packed, suspenseful, cleverly written, visually magnificent and wonderfully acted. The end was just the beginning. As soon as the credits began to roll, African Americans took to social media to debate the central premise of the film. That there existed in the 21st century, an African nation that had been untouched by the scourge of transatlantic slavery and the ravages of European colonialism, and as a result, had developed technological capabilities far in advance of anything that existed in the Western world.
Black Twitter was on fire. Soon, the same discussions were being had on black call-in radio shows and in black-dominated spaces. From college dorm rooms to black barber shops and beauty salons. These were fascinating conversations. People speculating about what life would have been like in African societies had they not been disrupted by slavery and colonialism. This is of course impossible to know because slavery and colonialism lasted for centuries and reach deep into the interior of Africa and the Americas. No African kingdom or Indigenous nation was untouched, either directly or indirectly, by slavery and colonialism.
Their trajectories were altered forever. But these were rich thought experiments because rarely do people think in such public and communal ways about the deep and lasting impact of slavery and colonialism and how these systems forced African and Indigenous nations and people to react and respond. Exploring how African and Indigenous nations would have been different, were it not for slavery and colonialism, is a useful intellectual undertaking. It starts people thinking about the lives of African Indigenous people on their own terms.
But this should be more than just an exercise because it’s an effective way to see the impact of slavery and colonialism on African and Indigenous nations. “Wakanda forever” is a catchy phrase, but it also reflects an idea that is central to understanding the evolution of American slavery. That life for nations and people touched by slavery and colonialism was forever and irrevocably changed. This has to be unpacked first if we are to understand the origin and evolution of American slavery.
I’m Hasan Kwame Jeffries and this is Teaching Hard History: American Slavery, a special series from Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center. This podcast provides a detailed look at how to teach important aspects of the history of American slavery. In each episode we explore a different topic, walking you through historical concepts, raising questions for discussion, suggesting useful source material and offering practical classroom exercises.
Hasan K. Jeffries: In our second season, we are expanding our focus to better support elementary school educators, to spend more time with teachers who are doing this work in the classroom and to understand the often-hidden history of the enslavement of Indigenous people in what would become the United States. Talking with students about slavery can be emotional and complex. This podcast is a resource for navigating those challenges so teachers and students can develop a deeper understanding of the history and legacy of American slavery.
Hasan K. Jeffries: There were millions of Indigenous people living in North America when Europeans first arrived on the continent. These invaders and settlers brought established principles and practices of human enslavement with them, along with their insatiable desire for free labor. In this episode, historian Christina Snyder tells the story of what unfolded when these worlds collided. She explains how European concepts of bondage transformed the way Native nations interacted with each other.
Hasan K. Jeffries: We learn how millions of Indigenous people were enslaved during the 400 years between the time Columbus landed in the Caribbean and the American Civil War. But first, we’re going to meet Doctor Meredith McCoy. Meredith will be joining me for this season of Teaching Hard History: American Slavery. She’s going to share with us her conversation with Doctor Snyder. I’ll see you on the other side. Enjoy. I’m really excited to welcome to the podcast for season two, my cohost, Meredith McCoy. Meredith, how are you? Welcome aboard.
Meredith McCoy: Thank you so much. I’m so excited to be here with you. The first season was amazing. So I’m excited to come on board.
Hasan K. Jeffries: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself so our listeners can get to know you a little bit?
Meredith McCoy: I recently began a position as Assistant Professor of American Studies and History at Carlton College. My interests are really in histories of federal education policy and Indigenous resistance. My dad is a tribal citizen at the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, so I’m of Turtle Mountain descent. I also come from a family of educators. So this is very personal to me, thinking about issues of curriculum and teaching practice.
I’m particularly excited about Teaching Hard History and being involved in the histories of Indigenous enslavement. Because when I taught middle school as a middle school social studies, Spanish and English language arts teacher, I was never prepared to teach histories of American slavery, either for African enslavement or Indigenous enslavement. It wasn’t part of my development and my master’s in education, it wasn’t part of my standards or textbooks in Tennessee or Georgia, and it also was not part of the education I received as a student myself, growing up in North Carolina. So I think the materials that we’re developing are really crucial resources. I’m so excited to be part of this project and bringing this very hard history in an accessible way to our teachers.
Hasan K. Jeffries: Now you had a chance to interview Doctor Christina Snyder. Could you tell us a little bit about why it’s important for our listeners to hear what she has to say?
Meredith McCoy: Absolutely. Doctor Snyder was someone that we really wanted to bring on early, because we wanted to get her perspectives on how Indigenous understandings of enslavement before European invasion changed once Europeans arrived in what are currently the Americas.
Hasan K. Jeffries: There’s so much history there. Where is it that you chose to begin this discussion?
Meredith McCoy: There is so much history to cover. A lot of K–12 social studies standards in textbooks tend to distort or even erase histories of Indigenous peoples, and that includes the history of Indigenous enslavement. So, Doctor Snyder and I began our conversation with a question about common misconceptions about Indigenous peoples and enslavement.
Hasan K. Jeffries: Well, let’s take a listen.
Meredith McCoy: I am thrilled today to welcome Christina Snyder.
Christina Snyder: Thanks so much, Meredith.
Meredith McCoy: Christina, what are some common misconceptions that you think people might have to undo as they think about integrating this new content into their classrooms?
Christina Snyder: For a country that is so fundamentally committed to the ideal of freedom, I think this really challenges us to reconsider just how broad the scope of slavery was, how long it lasted, how many people it affected? Before the 1970s, historians tended to depict slavery as something that happened exclusively in the antebellum South, focusing on African Americans. They even depicted the slavery as timeless. Since that, we have really focused on how dynamic slavery was, how many different groups of people it affected, where it was?
So it’s not just in the South, it’s in fact, all over the continent. When it was enslaving native people as part of a global economy began with Columbus’s second voyage in 1495 and it really continued until the 1880s or even later in some places.
Meredith McCoy: You mentioned Columbus. How do we understand the role of Columbus in a history of enslavement of Indigenous peoples?
Christina Snyder: So Columbus, even before he came to the Americas, he had participated in the African slave trade. This was a trade that people in Spain and Portugal in particular had started engaging in the 15th century. He and his father were both participants and had bought and sold West Africans in Europe. So on the second voyage to the Caribbean, he takes captives. Columbus captured 550 Indigenous peoples, carried them back to Spain. Actually, 200 of them died on the voyage, which was overcrowded, many people were ill, but of the survivors, he sold them in Spain.
When he was marketing them to potential buyers, he actually compared them to West Africans. So something that we can see is that colonialism forced Indigenous people and Africans into a global economy that valued them as commodities and laborers.
Meredith McCoy: So there is a mutual displacement of peoples being taken across the ocean. This really I think applies to how teachers think about the Atlantic slave trade and also about mercantilism. How is that working, in terms of Indigenous peoples are being sent to Europe as enslaved people at the same time that African people are being brought to what’s currently the United States as enslaved people?
Christina Snyder: I think that phrase “mutual displacement” is really effective, because once these colonial endeavors really force Indigenous people and Africans into the global market, it’s really surprising how far that diaspora goes. One thing to immediately come to terms with is that labor is a scarce resource in colonial North America and colonialism is fundamentally about money. These empires wanted colonies to generate money for sometimes private investors, sometimes for the crown.
So they were desperate to gain access to laborers and especially eager to get bonded laborers who could be enslaved for life. But, even though these colonizers are really eager to engage in the African slave trade to get laborers for these plantations that they’re beginning on the American side of the ocean, they sometimes have difficulty accessing it. That’s why many of them become interested in buying and selling Indigenous captives. Partially to work them on their own plantations, but also for deportation.
Christina Snyder: So some of those captives go back to Europe. Some of them are even sold to places like the Philippines, part of the Spanish empire at that time, or sold to the Caribbean in exchange for African captives. So the kind of traffic that we think about in the Atlantic is really complicated by our including Native peoples in that story.
Hasan K. Jeffries: Meredith, obviously this is 2019 and we have been commemorating the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans to the Virginia colony, British North America. So I’m really struck by what Doctor Snyder was pointing out with regard to Columbus: 1495, Columbus kidnapping and enslaving 500 or so Indigenous people, bringing them back across the Atlantic. That really stands out.
Obviously the Atlantic slave trade didn’t begin in 16 and 19, but you’re talking about 130 years of a system having developed. We should be thinking about the starting point for slavery in the Americas, if you will, at a totally different moment in time.
Meredith McCoy: That’s so true, Hasan. I think part of the importance of including Indigenous enslavement in how we teach the history of American slavery is that it does change so much about how we understand timeline and geography. One of the things that really stood out to me about that conversation with Doctor Snyder is this idea of mutual displacement. That there was a threat to having indigenous societies be fully intact for these European settlers who were coming to take Indigenous lands and resources. So to minimize that threat, they removed people from their homeland.
So they were removing Indigenous peoples from the Americas and sending them out to the Caribbean, Europe and as far away as Asia. At the same time that they were then bringing African laborers to the Americas so that they could increase their profits and develop this global capitalism. So that reorients how we think about the triangle trade, how we think about the Atlantic slave trade, because it adds this countercurrent to the normal cycle that we look at when we have these maps and diagrams in our history textbooks.
Hasan K. Jeffries: It really does force you to think about the institution of slavery itself as dynamic and not in a celebratory way of course, but dynamic in the sense of it is adjusting, it is changing, it is adapting in this never-ending search for free labor. That point that was made about, labor is a scarce resource, and those European colonizers who were coming in, they are desperate for this free labor and are using this system, obviously, to tap into labor sources. But as a result of that, we have this sort of “If we can enslave you, we will enslave you” system or attitude going on.
Meredith McCoy: I think your point that we have to understand this longer timeline of enslavement as dynamic and changing is a really important one that could help our teachers frame this in their classrooms with their students. Often the version of enslavement that we’re expected to teach is sort of fixed in time as though there is one version of enslavement and that everyone who was enslaved experienced it in a certain way. What this history forces us to do is reckon with the myriad experiences depending on location and time.
Hasan K. Jeffries: It seems that, what’s also going on, is within that displacement of peoples is this collision of cultures.
Meredith McCoy: Yeah, that’s absolutely right. One of the big ideas that Doctor Snyder has researched is that Indigenous peoples had certain ideas about bondage and captivity that predate the invasion of Europeans. So part of this change is how European understandings of the commodification of human beings as laborers interface with Indigenous understandings of captives as part of a mechanism to repair a broken social fabric after warfare or after death.
So I asked Christina to explain how captivity and bondage were understood and practiced within Indigenous societies before Europeans arrived on the continent. Maybe that’s a good place to pick up my conversation with her.
Christina Snyder: One thing that we have to understand first is that Native North America is incredibly diverse on the eve of colonization. There were likely between five and 10 million people living in what’s now the U.S. They’re speaking 300 different languages. We don’t know exactly how many different nations they lived in, but today in the United States there are over 560 different Indigenous nations. Just because of the devastation of colonialism, those numbers were much greater, we think, before the European invasion.
All of these people, they had quite different cultures, histories and politics. They had their own conflicts. So we know that warfare played a role in shaping these Indigenous societies before Europeans. The ideas about warfare and captive- taking, they did vary from one place to the next and it’s not the same everywhere. But taking captives as a byproduct of war is pretty common in Native North America. A widely held tenant was that captivity was a kind of substitute for death in warfare.
It was another outcome that could happen to enemies who were taken in war. For example, when war parties go out, they’re often addressing a particular grievance and that’s usually the loss of life due to the fact of enemies taking their own people in war. The Iroquois have a term for this, which is “the mourning wars.” Mourning, not as in the time of day but as in mourning a relative for death. To compensate for that loss to your people, it was necessary to enact justice. So a successful war party would take home captives and the captives as a whole would really face different fates.
There were basically three different things that could happen to a captive. One is that that person could be executed as vengeance for the death of a loved one. The second thing is that the person could be adopted. In that sense it’s taking a life and transforming it. Also compensating for that life that you’ve lost to enhance your numbers. What we have to understand about this and what makes it so important in Indigenous societies is that kinship was really the organizing principle of creating Native societies.
So, for them thinking about adoption is really addressing the loss of a loved one, compensating for that, taking in someone new, repairing the social fabric, incorporating them in society. Now the final thing that could happen is that if a captive remained alive within an Indigenous community but was not adopted, that person could become what we would think of as a slave. Different Indigenous societies have different words for this. It often translates as “one who is owned.”
So basically the idea of someone who has not been incorporated into a kinship network, that person is permanently an outsider and they’re thought of as being kinless. So again, somebody who’s not totally connected into your own society. They could be exploited in certain ways so they could be used as laborers, as servants. One thing that we do know is that labor is only one part of this equation. There is also a kind of prestige and power in having these captives.
Part of the reason that we know what we know about these Indigenous captivity practices is that some of the very earliest Europeans who invaded North America were taken captive, and some of them endured these kinds of fates. So they might, for example, have to serve a particular chief who had conquered them without being fully incorporated into the kinship structure. Again, well if we had to sum up their ideas about captivity, one is that it’s not racial, it’s really more about kinship and social fabric.
One’s appearance really did not play a role in what would happen to them as a captive. It was really about addressing a balance that had been lost through a relative who had been killed. It’s about social reproduction, it’s about warfare and justice. Again, labor is only one part of what might happen with that captive’s life. They could also be a symbol of prestige and power or part of the expansion of a chief’s social network.
Meredith McCoy: There is so much that is so exciting and interesting about what you’ve just shared. I’m really glad that you brought up this idea of kinship because kinship continues to be such a fundamental concept for how Indigenous peoples identify each other as belonging today. We think about our networks of family and relationship as being really core to our identities as Indigenous peoples. I also wanted to ask you, you’ve written that colonialism brought distinct and evolving notions of bondage into contact with one another.
What are these notions of bondage that Europeans are bringing with them? The differences between understandings of enslavement and captivity in Indigenous societies and in European ones and how did they then apply these ideas in their interactions with Indigenous peoples?
Christina Snyder: Yeah, so one of the key things, key takeaways I hope from this conversation, is that slavery is really dynamic. It’s not one thing; it changes all the time. I think the best metaphor probably is to think about as a kind of virus that mutates as it migrates. It may come into contact and kind of reform itself. So slavery itself is on the go, it’s dynamic. It’s really colonialism that creates the Atlantic slave trade. Which is what we typically think of as the prototypical form of slavery that is the kind that was practiced in the South and the Caribbean in the 18th and 19th centuries.
But that took a long time to evolve. On the eve of colonialism, Europeans had relatively limited experience with slavery, and they each brought their own experiences and understandings into the colonial context. When we think about major colonizing powers in North America, three of the most important are Spain, England and France. Out of these, especially in the early colonial period, the Spanish are really the most important because they’re the first colonizers and partially because other colonizers look at their experiences as they form their own colonial policies.
So when Spaniards first came to North America, we have to remember that, 1492 is when Columbus set sail, but it’s also the year that marks the end of the Reconquista, which is Christian Spain’s centuries-long fight to claim all of the Iberian Peninsula for the Christian kingdoms. Those Christian kingdoms eventually become what we now think of as Spain. Ideas that had really propelled the Reconquest more based on an intolerance of non-Christian people, especially in this case, Jews and Muslims.
As part of that, there are these germs of ideas about race that are articulated during the Reconquest and the Spanish referred to these as notions of “blood purity.” That is that Christians had this pure blood and Jews and Muslims did not. That they’re somehow fundamentally different from their Christian neighbors. They also have an anti-black bias against sub-Saharan Africans during this time. When they’re engaging in these wars during the Reconquista, they employ ideas based on what they thought of, as a quote, “just war.”
So that non-Christian combatants could be enslaved during these religious wars. When we see the Spanish coming to the Americas, again they’re coming right off of that Reconquista. The ideas that they have about people who can justly be enslaved are based on a few different criteria. So people who are non-Christian, people who are enemy combatants, that is, they may have some ill will against the Spanish and they’re also starting to articulate these ideas about race and what we would call today “biological ideas about race,” that is that differences can be “carried in one’s blood,” would be the way that they would phrase it. So, again, that’s a germ of an idea that becomes really explosive in the context of colonialism.
The English come a little bit later, the Spanish, again, they’re coming over in the 1490s, in terms of North America, the English colonized Roanoke in the 1580s and then Jamestown a few decades later. They’re more familiar with servitude and slavery. Servitude exists in their own country. But they did have already some African slaves in their nation and they were familiar with Spanish exploits just by reading.
We know, for example, that John Smith, who’s famous in terms of his interactions with Jamestown and Pocahontas, he had read quite a bit of the Spanish literature and had also been a mercenary. The French too, begin to colonize North America in 1608 when they found Quebec City. They really push deeply into the Mississippi Valley, eventually into Louisiana. They have a kind of ambivalent relationship to slavery at first, but eventually they too become involved in the African and the Indian slave trade.
So essentially if we look at these different colonizing powers, they too have their own cultures and histories, but they’re beginning to form a more coherent ideology that justifies bondage. So they all adopt this idea that slavery is an option for enemies taken in a just war, that slavery can be undergirded by cultural, religious or racial difference. And there are two things that really distinguish it quite a bit from what you see in an Indigenous context. The first is that it’s trans-generational.
Just what I mean by that is that it can be passed from a parent to a child. Even though Native people did take captives, we really don’t see evidence for that passing on to a child. So it’s not an inherited status. The only place where there’s some evidence for that is on the northwest coast, the Pacific Northwest in the 18th and 19th century, but it’s not a widespread idea. So Europeans have this idea that slavery can be passed down indefinitely through, especially the maternal line, is how they begin to define it.
The second thing is that they really rigorously try to use the law to protect it. So over time, as Europeans become more financially and ideologically invested in slavery, they develop laws to protect slaveholders and to enforce that trans-generational enslavement of Africans and Indians.
Meredith McCoy: Christina, it sounds like what you’re talking about is related to the doctrine of discovery. Could you explicitly define that for some of our teachers who may see that term pop up in their textbook or in their standards? It might be interesting for you to also speak to the relationship between Christianity and European understandings of human dignity, particularly given what you were just discussing about understandings of Christianity in religious wars.
How do we get this mesh of Christian ideology and legal concepts that then justify the enslavement of peoples from Africa and the Americas?
Christina Snyder: Christianity and the legal doctrines that are developed around colonization have a really strong role in the invasion of North America and also in ideas about slavery. This doctrine of discovery is basically a legal notion that, supported by the Catholic Church, that decrees that only Catholic powers should colonize North America, and that essentially Indigenous people only had use rights. That is, it really didn’t recognize indigenous territorial claims as being legitimate in European eyes.
Meredith McCoy: The doctrine of discovery becomes such a critical foundational concept in law in the United States. It’s really the concept that is at the basis of Indian law. We see that in the 1820s and 1830s when the Supreme Court’s dealing with a set of cases that comes to be known as the Marshall Trilogy. The first case, Johnson V. M’Intosh, just when this doctrine of discovery gets sort of lain out and the idea becomes that Native nations are domestic dependent nations. Nobody really knows what that means.
Supreme Court Justice Marshall makes it up on the fly, but it becomes this deeply entrenched legal concept that then affects everything about how Native nations are able to exercise their inherent sovereignty, their inherent right to self-governance and self-determination. So we see the ways that this concept that starts as a European religious idea, comes and travels to the United States and its origins and becomes this really foundational and shaping idea that impacts everything else about how the legal system functions for Indigenous peoples in the United States today.
Christina Snyder: Something interesting that I’ve done with my class in order to really get students to wrap their heads around this is to have them read a version of the Requerimiento, which is a legal document that the Spanish came up with, I think in the 15 teens. It’s interesting because even though in many cases European colonizers are really using this brute force to invade Native villages to take captives, they actually wanted to have this legal foundation that would make their conquest legitimate, at least in the eyes of fellow European colonizers.
Certainly not in the eyes of Indigenous people, but in order to do this when they were invading a village, they would read the Requerimiento, usually in Spanish unless there was a readily available Native interpreter, which basically said that, “If you refuse to submit to the King and Queen of Spain and to the doctrines of Catholicism, then we have every right to kill you, to enslave you, to sell you.” Spanish colonizers thought about this as a legal contract. It’s interesting, even if you have a student who is fluent in Spanish, to have them read the document in Spanish to the rest of the class who maybe can’t understand it.
That just gives us a sense of the dissonance of this and how people who couldn’t even understand the words, because they’re in a different language, would have been impacted by these legal ideas that originated in Europe that just really did not recognize Native rights to self-governance or to territory.
Meredith McCoy: That has so many ripple effects out across Indian law. This idea that Indigenous peoples only have a right to occupancy and not a right to these territories that we’ve been stewarding and care-taking since time immemorial. So this ripples out into understandings of enslavement and indigenous enslavement, but it also affects everything else about how we think about Indigenous rights within the settler state that is currently the United States.
So I think it’s really important that teachers take a minute with their students to think about things like the doctrine of discovery, because it does open all of these other temporally rippling issues that they can then engage with their students.
Christina Snyder: Absolutely. One of the really sobering facts about studying the early colonial period is what a long shadow it casts and how many of those legacies are still very much with us today.
Hasan K. Jeffries: So often when we hear discussions about slavery in America, we often hear all societies had slavery, Indigenous societies had slavery, African societies has slavery. But what we’re talking about is that what we might consider slavery or forced bondage in an Indigenous context and what will emerge in the Americas under these colonizers is something completely different.
Meredith McCoy: Yeah, I think that’s a really important thing for teachers to break down with their students. Because it would be really easy for a student to just think, “Well, Indigenous peoples had enslavement too before the Europeans arrived, so why is it a big deal?” Or, “Indigenous peoples participated in the European slave trade too. So, shouldn’t we cast equal blame on Indigenous peoples [as] on European colonists or European settlers?”
What Christina’s pointing to here that is really important is that there is a way that over time, because of extreme social pressure, Indigenous peoples, Indigenous nations are having to make the best possible choices that they can make in extreme circumstances to preserve their own people. They’re facing severe land loss, severe population devastation, and in order to make sure that their people survive, they’re having to shift their understandings of what enslavement means and how they participate in this very capitalistic notion of enslavement that Europeans are bringing with them.
So the ways in which Indigenous peoples become incorporated into this global slave market, totally upends these earlier models of captivity and bondage as a way to repair and maintain the social fabric. That, to me, is a takeaway that teachers can use to frame these changes in Indigenous population, in the slave trade over time with their students. That this is about how Indigenous peoples adopt technologies and systems that they believe will provide them with the resources, or the strategies that they need to protect their peoples, and their lands over time facing this severe threat from European invasion.
Hasan K. Jeffries: That seems to hint at and speak to the ways in which Indigenous people resisted the encroachment of colonizers and resisted the enslavement of their own.
Meredith McCoy: Yeah. For me as an Indigenous person thinking about how we talk to students about histories of violence against Indigenous peoples, there is so much trauma that’s embedded in those histories. But I wouldn’t be here today, Indigenous peoples wouldn’t be here today, if it weren’t for the resilience, the creativity and the resistance of our ancestors. So those stories are really important stories for us to chat with our students as we’re thinking about how Indigenous peoples participated in and also pushed back against European notions of enslavement.
Having learned from Christina about the philosophical differences and the legal origins of these tensions between European enslavement and Indigenous enslavement, including, for example, that Indigenous enslavement was not racial, that it usually was not trans-generational, that it was not grounded in a legal framework, then I wanted to know about the long-term impacts and the actual logistics on a day-to-day basis. So to begin, I asked Christina, how have interactions between European settlers and Indigenous peoples would actually work on the ground.
Christina Snyder: They’re really two ways in which Europeans begin to trade in Indigenous slaves. The first is by taking them directly. Of course, you can see that with Columbus, but as early as the 1520s, Spanish ships started terrorizing Indigenous communities on the Atlantic Seaboard and in Florida. So Native people are essentially being kidnapped and sold as slaves in Europe, in the Caribbean. Hernando de Soto and Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, they go on similar kinds of expeditions in the late 1530s, early 1540s, and they kidnap hundreds of Indigenous people, mostly women.
So there are lots of examples, especially in the early colonial period, of these colonizers taking and selling, were deporting Indigenous slaves. There does develop, though, a trade in Indian slaves. So the other source for Europeans acquiring Native slaves is through Indigenous middlemen. To understand this, we really have to go back to the fact that for a long time, Indigenous people had taken war captives. One of the things that we know happened from very early historical interactions is that sometimes these war captives were gifted to other Indigenous leaders during diplomacy or to Europeans.
So some of the kinds of diplomatic rituals that Native people had been conducting for a long time, they extended those to European newcomers as the new people on the block. We often talk, and rightly so, a lot about conflict early in the colonial period. But there is also a lot of effort on the part of Indigenous people to turn Europeans into allies because sometimes Indigenous leaders thought they would be useful trade partners. Obviously, Europeans had a lot of new goods and interesting things to trade, or they saw these invading armies of mostly men very well armed.
They had horses, which Indigenous people had never seen before. They had armor. So they rightly see that these are military really strong people and that maybe they would make good military allies. So, especially for Indigenous people who want to ally with Europeans, they engage in trade and really Europeans are only interested in two items of exchange. Those are typically furs. So animal pelts and Indigenous slaves. Again, there’s this incredible demand for labor.
Europeans are already interested in acquiring forced labor to begin plantations to start other kinds of economic endeavors. So they engaged quite eagerly in this. So something that begins small-scale captive exchange really rapidly in the colonial period amplifies into a huge, violent, transformative trade. Because, essentially what happens is that the European invasion leads to a kind of incorporation, willing or not, of Indigenous peoples onto a global market that really values their labor. So, what you see is an exponential increase in the amount of captives taken and also a distortion of war practices.
So warfare becomes much more violent, much more deadly, partially through the introduction of firearms. Throughout the colonial period, firearms are a very popular trade item, second only to textiles. In order to really understand the Indian slave trade, you have to understand how desperately a lot of these Native nations were to acquire European firearms. Early on, when we think about the very first encounters between the Spanish and Indigenous people, the Spanish had an impressive array of technology that was also quite terrifying.
Again, they had armor, they had lances, they had dogs that they actually put armor on and had trained to kill, but they only have really primitive kinds of firearms. These matchlocks called arquebuses—they’re kind of unreliable in wet weather. They can explode and kill someone. So they’re not actually these really magnificent weapons initially. But what happens pretty quickly is that, by the late 1600s, Flemish gunsmiths have developed a different kind of firearm called the matchlock that is much more efficient, much lighter, very deadly, very accurate.
European gun manufacturers actually start to mass-produce these for an American market and primarily for Native American people who want to use these. So Native people become consumers in this global market. Part of the reason why is that they very rightly see that they’re living in an unsafe world. They’re becoming embroiled in imperial conflicts, in global trade. They want ways to protect their communities. They feel like if they don’t get access to firearms, that they themselves will become victims of either European colonizers or more powerful Native neighbors.
So there is this kind of arms race that fuels a desire for trade with Europeans and what do Europeans want above all else from Native people? Its Indigenous slaves. This really gets amplified. My primary research again has been about the Southeast, but this really is a continental phenomenon where you see it happening in all the areas of colonization. So the Northeast, the Southeast, the Southwest. The way that it plays out in the Southeast is that Charleston becomes the most important trade port.
While many Native people are bought, sold and live their lives on South Carolina plantations, many more are actually deported and exported for sale on the global market. So if we just look at the first few decades of Charleston, from 1670 to about 1715, there’re somewhere between 25,000 and 50,000 Indian slaves are deported from that one port in South Carolina. If we look at that, and we think about it in terms of the broader effects of colonization, it really gives us a sense of the devastation. One thing that I would emphasize to teachers is that we think a lot about Native population loss in the early colonial period.
Typically, we emphasize disease, and certainly disease has a major role. But what we need to do with this new research is to realize that slavery, and the warfare that accompanied it, contributed significantly to Indigenous mortality in that early colonial period. So it’s not just diseases. Often disease that’s operating in tandem with warfare, either from Native neighbors or from colonizers and the violence of slavery. We do have an estimate from one French colonial official in Louisiana, around 1700, who estimated that for every captive taken alive, three people died resisting that invasion.
So, those rates are really horrific, and they give us a sense of this violent synergy that’s creating a really unstable region and is also having really negative effects on the Indigenous populations of that region.
Meredith McCoy: It is just devastating to sit with those statistics, to think about the loss of life and the bringing of instability into communities that previously had used these ideas about captivity and bondage in some contexts as a way to restore and maintain a social fabric. So thinking about these ideas of Indigenous people being integrated into these European capitalist understandings of intergenerational servitude, it really is a cognitive dissonance with the idea that captivity is something that maintains a social fabric.
Could you pivot a bit perhaps and speak to why they could not just keep doing captivity in the ways that they always had? Why is it that Indigenous peoples really feel that they have to adopt these European notions of the slave trade? Why Indigenous nations are making these political alliances, choosing to engage in warfare, choosing to integrate into the slave trade, and how does capitalism play a role in that expansion?
Christina Snyder: Many Indigenous nations actually do try to maintain traditional ideas as much as they can in terms of how native people are engaging with the warfare around them. It really varies quite a bit. I will say that, overall when we think about what Indigenous leaders are facing, there’s devastating population loss. So we think, these numbers are very hard to pin down. But by the period that we’re talking about with the slave trade, it’s very likely that Indigenous peoples in the Southeast had experienced a 70 percent population loss from just 150 years before.
So that’s extremely significant. They are also experiencing land loss. Especially peoples who are living near the coast closer to these European sites of invasion. European colonies, like Virginia and South Carolina, New England, even in New Mexico, they’re beginning to be strongholds of European settlement and pushing out Native people. Our colleague Robbie Ethridge has applied this concept which can help us understand some of the ripple effects of this. She calls it the “shatter zone.”
So the metaphor here is thinking about when you drop a wineglass, for example, that the shards radiate out very far from the site of the initial impact. That helps us understand how even in societies that are very far away, let’s say from colonial South Carolina, they’re still experiencing these debilitating effects of invasion, because European expeditions are going into the interior, because these diseases are spreading, because of the demand for Indian slaves.
Warfare is spreading into the interior, sometimes hundreds of miles away from European settlement because demand for enslaved laborers is just insatiable. So Europeans are engaging in this slave trade at the same time that they are trying to buy more and more enslaved people from Africa. So what people are confronted with is a really difficult and desperate situation and there is a kind of tipping point. So here’s where I think it’s appropriate to talk about the Yamasees’ war.
Hasan K. Jeffries: There are real parallels between what happens to Indigenous nations when Europeans arrive bringing with them this new system of servitude and slavery, and what happens on the African continent when Europeans arrive and are bringing with them this new system of slavery and servitude. In both instances, I’m really struck by this idea of Indigenous populations, whether they are Indigenous nations here, African people on the continent of Africa, are in a sense saying, “Okay, in what ways can we incorporate these new people into our existing way of life?”
But then how quickly the tide seems to turn, not just impacting individuals, but how, for example, the nature of warfare begins to change. It seems that we have to really wrap our minds around the impact that is felt so very soon on Indigenous nations as a result of Europeans coming in with this new way of interacting with people and this idea of furs but also enslavement first.
Meredith McCoy: I think that would be such a brilliant way for teachers to think about how these changes are occurring on both continents with their students. To do some sort of mapping where they’re looking at, what are these power dynamics? How are these interactions changing for leadership and Indigenous nations in the Americas and for leadership in Africa? What is this looking like in terms of how communities, exactly as you’re saying, initially attempt to incorporate these newcomers as guests, or visitors, or relatives, and then eventually as a tool for their own survival become complicit in these systems of violence against other people?
Hasan K. Jeffries: I think we have to keep at the forefront of our mind when trying to understand the difficult decisions that native people are making. So first and foremost it’s about surviving. They are trying to survive. They are trying to protect. They are trying to preserve and as a result of that, it becomes sort of a new starting point in the difficult choices that they are making in what to do and what not to do vis-à-vis engaging with Europeans and also engaging with other nations.
Meredith McCoy: That is such a good point. One of the things that we really have to remember is that for most of the colonial period, and certainly west of the Mississippi, Indigenous peoples are still in control. Europeans are coming in and they’re certainly disrupting dynamics, especially in what come to be known as the colonies, but Indigenous peoples largely are still able to maintain pre-existing relationships with each other and relationships with their lands.
Yet as European expansion, as settler expansion occurs across the continent, we see the same dynamics play out over and over again as Europeans are pushing not only their own bodies and their own consumption of Indigenous lands and resources, but also these really toxic ideas about the commodification of human beings out with them across the continent. In future episodes we’re going to think about how this was operating under Spanish rule, but for the purposes of this conversation with Christina, really thinking about the Eastern Seaboard. One of these moments that she turned to is the Yamasee War. An example of Indigenous people figuring out ways to push back and really exert their own sovereignty and their own control over their own space. I think this would be a good moment to really understand both its historical importance in terms of Indigenous resistance and its historical importance in terms of the pivot from Indigenous enslavement to African enslavement on the seaboard.
Christina Snyder: So, the Yamasee War is something that I would encourage teachers to really think about incorporating into their classrooms because it helps us to understand the devastation of the Indian slave trade, also Indigenous agency and pushing against it. So we can see both of those dynamics at play at once. The war itself takes place between 1715 and 1718. That is when the last significant peace treaty is signed. It really almost destroys colonial South Carolina and it changes the Indian slave trade in the South forever.
The Yamasees Indians are originally from the Savannah River valley. Which you can think of as the border between Georgia and South Carolina. They had actually been forced out of their homelands by the Westos, who had participated in the Indian slave trade, were allies of the Virginia colony, provided slaves for the Virginia colony, the Yamasees, because they’re not well-armed because they can’t really resist these raids, they decide to move into the Spanish mission system in Florida.
The mission system can be really repressive. Its goal is Christianization and cultural assimilation and yet the Spanish do provide a measure of protection. Unfortunately for the Yamasees, that protection did not include arming them. So it was Spain’s policy not to arm its Indian allies. That’s where you can really see the vulnerability of these kinds of unarmed groups. Because what happened around 1700, basically the decade between 1700 and 1710, there’re just repeated raids against the Florida mission system by English traders and allied Indian warriors.
It really devastates the Florida mission system. It’s not completely destroyed, but tens of thousands of people are either killed or displaced into slavery. As the Yamasees see this happen, they actually decide to come back to the Savannah River valley region, move close to what’s now Augusta and form relationships with Scottish traders who were affiliated with the new colony of Carolina. They believe that the only way to really gain a foothold in this global market to gain access to firearms is to engage in the Indian slave trade.
At that time and native slave could fetch the cost of 200 deer skins. That is much more than the average hunter could expect to earn in a year or even several years. So you can see both the economic pull of this, but also that desire for security, in a really violent and changing world. So the Yamasees engaged in the slave trade, but they begin to become disillusioned with it. They first start to articulate grievances against Indian traders. So Indian traders start to beat and abuse Yamasees. The Yamasees become very much in debt to these traders.
So a few years before the Yamasee War starts, they’re 100,000 deer skins in debt to Carolina, which is really about twice of South Carolina’s annual export. So they’re just massively, massively in debt to these traders who are extending them goods on loan. What happens is that these traders, in order to satisfy those debts, start to kidnap Yamasees or people that the Yamasees wanted to adopt, so that is captives who had maybe been taken from elsewhere, but that the Yamasees want to incorporate into their own society.
So, they’re really starting to lose control over their participation in this trade and to see how abusive and how destructive it can be. So it’s the Yamasees who launch this war against South Carolina. They started on Good Friday of 1715 and they do it by executing South Carolina’s Indian agent, Thomas Nairne, who had actually accompanied some of those raids against the Florida missions. They execute Nairne, they begin to attack plantations around South Carolina, and many other Southern Indian nations applaud this.
So they have similar kinds of grievances, not necessarily all the same, but they do all see problems with the Indian slave trade. So they’re joined by Lower Creeks, Savannahs and Apalachees, and to a lesser extent by Upper Creeks, Choctaws and Cherokees. These allies have varying roles in the war. Most of them execute their resident traders. So there were traders who had actually resided in these Indian villages who were their main connections to the Indian slave trade.
In order to sever that connection, they execute probably about 90 traders, which is most of the British traders who are in the interior. Many of them also join attacks against South Carolina plantations. So they kill about 400 colonists, which may not sound huge in terms of today’s numbers, but that was actually about 7 percent of the colony’s white population. All of the other remaining settlers and enslaved people are forced into fortified Charleston for most of the remainder of the war.
The Yamasee War destroys the plantation economy of the Carolina back country. Eventually South Carolina cobbles together and army from their own militia, from some neighboring colonies. They even enlist African-American slaves and some Indian allies. They eventually push back the Yamasees in a really brutal campaign. But there are several really important legacies of the Yamasee War that are worth highlighting.
The first really is that Native nations decide that they’re no longer willing to engage in the Indian slave trade with European colonists. That trade continues in much diminished fashion, but it’s never the same after that. Colonists themselves are really terrified and they have seen how the Indian slave trade has destabilized the region, has really invoked the military power of Native nations, which still outnumber them and nearly destroyed the colony.
So at that point they and most other English colonies on the Eastern Seaboard increasingly turn to African slavery. You see their participation in the Atlantic slave trade, which targets Africans, increase dramatically throughout the course of the 18th century. That really reshapes the way that slavery looks in the region. It highlights Native people’s role in trying to extricate themselves from this trade which had been so detrimental to their societies.
Hasan K. Jeffries: One of the things that really leaps out when I think about the history of the Yamasee War is that as teachers, we really have to take seriously Native nations as political thinkers. They are not simply waiting for things to happen to them. They are certainly existing within a context but they are also responding to the moment and they are thinking about their futures and responding accordingly.
It seems that the Yamasee War really reflects this idea of Indigenous people being ensnared in this system of enslavement, the system of capitalism, the system of debt and trying desperately to extricate themselves from it and taking proactive steps in the form of going to war to get out from under it.
Meredith McCoy: That’s exactly right. That, I think is precisely the narrative that teachers should be using in their conversations with students about how to understand the role of Indigenous peoples in the slave trade, both in the slave trade of other Indigenous peoples and in the slave trade of African peoples. So much of the way that social studies has been taught up to this point has been about Native peoples, either as violent warriors coming to attack innocent European settlers or about Native peoples as total victims.
It’s really important that we as teachers think about ways to center Indigenous agency and to contextualize the choices that Indigenous peoples were making. Remembering that these choices are about how to preserve Indigenous lands, Indigenous resources and Indigenous peoples. That Indigenous nations are making choices, as you say, strategically, to ensure the well-being of their people.
Hasan K. Jeffries: When we think about the racialization of slavery in the American context, we often draw our attention to Bacon’s Rebellion and think about the ways in which this colonial rebellion, landless whites in Virginia, are rebelling against the landed elite for their piece of the pie, and the response to that on the part of the land and white elite is like, “Oh, we need to move away from this particular class hierarchy and shift our attention to creating a permanent underclass, that being enslaved African laborers.”
But here we see that there’s a different sort of resistance when thinking about the Carolina country and how that would explode in terms of its enslaved African population from—certainly beginning in the 1680s, we get this uptick—but then really right after the Yamasee War, there is a response to resistance on the part of Native people that changes the complexity of the system of slavery and racialization of slavery in what is then the American colonies and what will become the American nation.
Meredith McCoy: Absolutely. The Yamasee War is such an important historical pivot. So, I asked Christina just what the impact of the Yamasee War was in terms of racialization and enslavement.
Christina Snyder: This is really the moment in Southern history when enslavement becomes really associated with the African trade and enslaving people of African descent. Following the Yamasee War, British colonists really increasingly associate slavery with blackness. Even though they had already been heavily invested in the Atlantic slave trade, they really turn almost exclusively toward people of African descent as enslaved laborers. At the same time, the war itself doesn’t actually liberate Indian people who are already in slavery.
Those people who had already served in South Carolina households, they remain there. But what does happen that’s different is that they, over time, are going to be a smaller and smaller percentage of that overall enslaved population. So that the enslavement of African people is really encouraged by law and by custom and some Southern colonies even goes so far as to try to outlaw Indian slavery all together. Even though it’s not entirely effective.
Meredith McCoy: How effective is the Yamasee War at ending indigenous enslavement, both along the Eastern Seaboard and then continent wide pushing into the West?
Christina Snyder: It is incredibly important in the Southeast in particular. It does have somewhat of an impact on all British colonies of the Eastern Seaboard. Partially because New England had been one of the top buyers of enslaved Native people from the South and they to get more cautious about it in the wake of the Yamasee War. But in the West, the impact is really perhaps minimal or zero. That’s partially because the colonial situation is so different. The British really dominate parts of the Eastern Seaboard by then.
You see a lot of French influence in the Mississippi Valley. They continue to engage in Indian slavery. In the West, the major colonizing power are the Spanish. They to continue to engage in the Indian slave trade. So these events, especially in the early colonial period, they don’t necessarily translate from one colonial context to the next. I will say that something very interesting does happen around this time of the Yamasee War.
If we look at the places of heaviest colonial invasion, so those would be the South and also New England, in the West, what you see are pretty intense Spanish colonization of New Mexico. Around the same time as the Yamasee War, New England, a few decades earlier, had experienced King Philip’s war, which is also partially about the enslavement of Indigenous people in New Mexico. The Southwest—what you see is the Pueblo Revolt. Again, around the same time.
There is some Indigenous slavery there, but also what people are responding to are other kinds of forced-labor systems. Like the [inaudible 01:09:28]. But what these things have in common, even though they’re coming out of these very different colonial contexts, is that Native societies are reaching a saturation point where there are settler colonial societies. Meaning people who are engaging in long-term colonial strategies of trying to displace or replace Native people, pushing Native people out.
Native people are beginning to become the minorities in their own homelands and they have a number of different grievances against these colonial powers of which, forced labor or slavery is one. But again, around the same time, they are all rising up against these different imperial powers with different consequences. In the Southeast, the consequence for the Yamasees is really devastating in the sense that South Carolinians and their allies kill most Yamasees.
The survivors are forced to go back to the mission system in Florida. But for the region as a whole, you know, it does really turn away from the Indian slave trade.
Meredith McCoy: So much of what we’re asked to teach as teachers is divided into historical periods. I think many of us were trained as history teachers to teach the colonial era, and then the idea of colonization sort of disappears. Could you talk about the relationship between ongoing settler colonialism and maybe define that for us… and land displacement and in slavery?
Christina Snyder: So “settler colonialism” is a term that teachers may have encountered and certainly it’s something that we as scholars talk about a lot. Basically, in the context of our classrooms, we can think about different forms of colonialism. So there are different models of how empires wanted their colonies to function. For example, the mission system would be one form of colonialism that has to do with converting Indigenous people and assimilating them into a Europeanized, Christianized lifestyle.
The fur trade is another one, which is primarily with the goal of extracting these animal resources from indigenous environments. Settler colonialism is still another kind. It’s something that is particularly important to understand in our context because it is the form that colonialism took on the east coast of North America and eventually the form that became dominant across the United States.
Rather than working with Native people or trying to include them somehow in the colonial project, settler colonialism really sought to either destroy them or displace them to somewhere else, so that colonizers, these new settlers, could claim these Indigenous spaces for themselves indefinitely. So it’s a form of colonialism that imagines Native people as being absent, disappearing, as having no role in the future of their society. So you see this, especially in British colonies.
So in the global context, we often talk about this in the United States, in Canada, in New Zealand, in Australia. It isn’t necessarily as applicable to places like Latin America, where there are different forms of colonialism that become more dominant. I tried to be really careful about terminology. Especially when thinking about American history as a whole, because from the perspective of Native people, the colonial period started in the 15th century with Columbus’s arrival and it’s still going on today.
Indian country today is still being colonized. Native people are still being marginalized. Their resources are still very much under siege, as we can see today. So these processes are actually much longer. If we want to get a fuller sense of American history and not just present a Eurocentric understanding of it, we have to understand really what the nature of colonialism is and how it continues to impact Indigenous people today.
Meredith McCoy: Thank you for that. I want to return to the Yamasee War for a moment. A lot of the resources that exist, if you Google “classroom resources to teach warfare,” think about the world wars, or they think about Vietnam, or they think about the present wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but there are not a lot of resources out there for thinking about how to teach histories of early colonial Indian wars in a K–12 context.
So Sarah Shear, our colleague who teaches social studies education at the University of Washington, Bothell, had two ideas that might help classroom teachers think about ways to engage the Yamasee War in their classrooms. One is idea of an interactive timeline or a 3D model of the different timelines that the different players in the war are navigating. You might have your students break out into teams and assign each team a different player in the war.
You might have the Yamasee nation, you might have each individual, other nation that eventually came into coalition with the Yamasee nation, you might even bring in entire concepts like the African slave trade. As you’re building out these timelines, the individual timelines will eventually intersect at specific historical moments so that you’ll start to see the development of a 3D mobile or a 3D model that allows your students to see how these different interests are overlapping and coming in and out of play with each other.
Another possibility is to spread all the chairs and desks out to the corners of your classroom and spread butcher paper out on the floor. Then have your students, again in teams, each focus on a different pressure, or tension, or idea that eventually led to the Yamasee War conflict. So as your students are building out these graphic organizers on the ground, they start to draw connections between their ideas and how they’re connecting to the other ideas or pressures that both lead up to the conflict and then that radiate out from it.
Sarah mentioned that these kinds of activities are really useful and important for students because it helps them see the conflict as not just an isolated event. In this way, they can see the multifacetedness of the war itself and they can see both what leads up to it and how it then reverberates into other historical events that come after. These kinds of moments and activities in our classrooms allow students to see war and conflict, not in a vacuum, but as a social phenomena that really changes the course of events.
It’s also a very different approach than the sometimes coverage model of just focusing on people, places, events, dates, battles, and it allows students to see this conflict in its holistic environment over time.
Hasan K. Jeffries: I’m so glad that you and Doctor Snyder talked about this concept of settler colonialism because it’s so important to understanding what would become the United States, these American colonies, how they evolve over time. What’s so central to that evolution is how in the minds of white settlers, white colonists, European colonists, how they are seeing the relationship to these colonies by Native people.
If we don’t understand that relationship, I don’t think our students will understand the impact that slavery and these colonies will have on Indigenous people going forward.
Meredith McCoy: We continue today to feel the impacts of Indigenous enslavement in so many ways. In order to understand the United States and how it functions today, particularly how class, labor and race function today, you have to understand that the settler colonial state has a deep desire for labor, land and resources. Where was it going to get those resources? From the Indigenous peoples whose lands it decided to set up on.
So we cannot understand the history of American slavery separate from the United States as a settler colonial entity. One helps us to understand the other.
Hasan K. Jeffries: It is very much to the starting point to this whole [sojourn] in what will become North America and what would become what we call today the United States. This episode has been absolutely fascinating. I have learned so much. So what can we expect in the second part of the conversation that you have with Doctor Snyder?
Meredith McCoy: In the second part of the interview, we’re going to move forward in terms of time. We’re going to continue to talk about the relationship between the Indigenous slave trade and the African slave trade. We’re going to talk about the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln and Emancipation from the perspectives of Indigenous peoples, recognizing that the Emancipation Proclamation actually didn’t apply to Indigenous people who were enslaved.
We’re going to talk about contemporary impacts that have ripples over time of the Indigenous slave trade for Indigenous peoples today. Those are the real takeaway points that we hope that teachers will sit with in thinking about histories of Indigenous enslavement. That this is not something that is just relegated to the past, but that the legal tenants and the social dynamics that were established through the Indigenous slave trade continue to impact Indigenous peoples today.
Hasan K. Jeffries: I can’t wait to hear it. Christina Snyder is the McCabe Greer professor of the American Civil War Era at Penn State University. She is the author of Slavery in Indian Country: The Changing Face of Captivity in Early America. And Great Crossings: Indian, Settlers, and Slaves in the Age of Jackson. Doctor Snyder is the 2018 winner of the Francis Parkman prize from the Society of American Historians.
We’re going to continue this conversation in our next episode, starting with some insightful perspectives on the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation. So be sure to tune in.
Meredith McCoy: Teaching Hard History is a podcast from Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Helping teachers in schools prepare their students to be active participants in a diverse democracy. Teaching Tolerance offers free resources to educators who work with children from kindergarten through high school. You can find these online @learningforjustice.org.
Hasan K. Jeffries: Most students leave high school without an adequate understanding of the role slavery played in the development of what would become the United States or how its legacies still influence us today. Now in our second season, this podcast is part of an effort to provide comprehensive tools for learning and teaching this critical topic.
Teaching Tolerance provides free teaching materials that include over 100 texts, sample inquiries and a detailed K–12 framework for teaching the history of American slavery. You can also find these online @learningforjustice.org\hardhistory.
Meredith McCoy: Thanks to Doctor Snyder for sharing her insights with us. This podcast was produced by Shea Shackelford with production assistance from Russell Gragg and content support from Gabriel Smith. Kate Shuster is our executive producer.
Hasan K. Jeffries: Our theme song is “Different Heroes” by A Tribe Called Red featuring Northern Voice, who graciously let us use it for this series. Additional music is by Chris Zabriskie.
Meredith McCoy: If you liked what you heard today, please share it with your friends and colleagues and then let us know what you thought. You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We always appreciate your feedback.
Hasan K. Jeffries: I’m Doctor Hasan Kwame Jeffries, Associate Professor of History at The Ohio State University.
Meredith McCoy: I’m Doctor Meredith McCoy, Assistant Professor of American Studies and History at Carleton College.
Meredith McCoy & Hasan K. Jeffries: And we’re your hosts for Teaching Hard History: American Slavery.