10 untold stories in the history of Indian slavery

India had been suffering in British slavery for more than 200 years and had suffered many violations and civil disputes in that intolerable time period, perhaps we do not know the other hidden stories of Indian slavery in ancient time which presented the great mass slavery on Indians in ancient time.

Here is the list of 10 untold stories of Indian slavery which will shock the world.

10. Indian slavery from the European past

indian slavery

Indian slavery

In the 17th century, Europeans, Africans, and American Indians all accepted slavery as a legitimate social institution. Treatment and status of the enslaved varied greatly from group to group. War captives provided most slaves, though the Europeans made slavery inheritable. Africans and Indians did exchange slaves as commodities, but Europeans introduced an international market economy for labor, as colonial plantation societies developed an insatiable demand for workers, spurring the African slave trade as well as various forms of bond labor for impoverished Europeans. Indian slavery complicates the narrative which has created a white-black world, with Indians residing outside on a vaguely defined frontier. The Indian slave trade connects native and European history so that plantations and Indian communities become entwined. We find planters making more money from slave trading than planting, and if we look more closely we find Indians not only enslaved on plantations but working as police forces to maintain those plantations and receiving substantial rewards for returning runaway slaves.

Just as the story of Indian slavery was excluded from the European past, it was largely forgotten in American-Indian traditions.


9. Megasthenes Remark about Slavery System in India

Megasthenes

Megasthenes

 

When Megasthenes came to India in the 4th century BC, he found that slavery system was not known to the Ancient Indian societies. He declared all the Indians as free people. Slaves do not exist in India.

Ancient Indians treated foreigners with full consideration. Megasthenes did not travel whole India and so his observations may not apply to the whole country. Certainly, it relates to a large part of it including Pataliputra. The Ancient Indians were banned on enslaving any fellow countryman. Megasthenes’ observation about the non-existence of slavery in Ancient India is not supported by available pieces of evidence. From the Smritis and other Hindu Law Books, it is clear that slavery was the recognized institution in India in the Vedic Age. The Rig Veda mentions the non-Aryan enemies of the Aryans as Dasyu and Dasa. The Aryans were constantly engaged in wars. Those aborigines who were defeated by the Rig Vedic Aryans were reduced to the status of Dasas or slaves. Those who were captured in battle were certainly enslaved.


8. The Other Slavery by Andrés Reséndez

indian slavery

Indian slavery

Since the time of Columbus, Indian slavery was illegal in most part of the American continent. Yet, as Andrés Reséndez illuminates in his myth-shattering The Other Slavery, it was practiced for centuries as an open secret. There was no abolitionist movement to protect the tens of thousands of natives who were kidnapped and enslaved by the conquistadors, then forced to descend into the “mouth of hell” of eighteenth-century silver mines or, later, made to serve as domestics for Mormon settlers and rich Anglos.  Reséndez builds the incisive case that it was mass slavery, more than epidemics, that decimated Indian populations across North America. New evidence, including testimonies of courageous priests, rapacious merchants, Indian captives, and Anglo colonists, sheds light too on Indian enslavement of other Indians — as what started as a European business passed into the hands of indigenous operators and spread like wildfire across vast tracts of the American Southwest.


7. Slavery in India in 1000 AD

indian slavery

Indian slavery

There were probably always slaves in India, but until about 1000 AD there were only a few slaves, and most of them worked as house servants. But when Islamic conquerors reached India, they forced much more people to be slaves. The Islamic conquerors sold thousands of these slaves out of India to work in Persia (modern Iran) or Afghanistan. Many of these people worked in the mines. But people also came to India to work as slaves, especially black people from East Africa. Beginning about 500 AD, as more traders went back and forth between Africa and India, more of them bought people in Africa and brought them back to India as slaves. African people mostly worked as bodyguards and soldiers; because they came from outside Indian politics, rulers trusted them more. Many of these African people eventually got free and became traders or government administrators. Another form of slavery was debt-bondage, where people became slaves in exchange for a loan of money. You could be free again if you paid off the loan, but most people never managed to pay it off, because of the very high rates of interest and because their bosses didn’t pay them very much. These people worked in the fields or making shoes or weaving saris or carpets. Debt bondage is still very common in India today, especially for children between four and twelve.


indian slavery

Indian slavery

For many years large numbers of Hindu slaves were brought from Bengal. The Portuguese had been permitted to build a factory at Hughley, on the river about 120 miles from the sea. During an interval of civil war they fortified this settlement and landed numerous cannon, whilst a native town grew up in the neighborhood. Meanwhile, the scum of Goa and other Portuguese towns, chiefly military deserters and apostate monks, had established themselves on the islands near the mouths of the Ganges, built a fleet of galleys, and led the lives of pirates, brigands, and kidnappers. These men were the pest of the Sunderbunds. They scoured the waterways of the delta of the Ganges, carried off whole villages into slavery, and especially delighted in capturing marriage processions, with the bride and bridegroom and all their kinsfolk and acquaintance in the bravery of silks and jewels. The Portuguese at Hughley were base enough to deal with these villains, to buy the poor wretches who had been kidnapped, and to ship them to Goa, where they were sold as slaves at the daily auctions on the Exchange, together with other commodities from all parts of the world. The rascally kidnappers at the mouths of the Ganges, and the pious traders at Hughey, alike quieted their consciences by baptizing their victims and boasting of having saved their souls from hell.


5. The Spanish Period

indian slavery

Indian slavery

The status of Indian slavery in Louisiana came into question when Spain took possession of the colony following the French and Indian War (1754–1763). Contrary to the practice in French and British colonies, Spain had outlawed the enslavement of Indians in 1542. In 1769, Spanish governor Alejandro O’Reilly issued a decree extending this prohibition to Louisiana. Uncertain what to do about Indians already held in slavery, O’Reilly directed persons claiming ownership of Indian slaves to record them with local authorities. Meanwhile, the governor requested a definitive ruling from Spain, but there was no response.

Despite O’Reilly’s order, efforts to enforce the ban on native slavery were sporadic and ineffective. As a consequence, traders continued to bring Indian slaves into the colony from Texas and elsewhere on the Great Plains. During the early Spanish period, the Indian slave population in Louisiana may actually have increased, due to efforts by Lt. Gov. Athanase de Mézières to expand contacts with western tribes. Exact numbers are difficult to determine, however. Unlike French census records, Spanish documents made no distinction between African and Indian slaves.


4. Indian Slavery in New England

indian slavery

Indian slavery

According to Margaret Ellen Newell’s evidence in support of her argument is harrowing in how effectively it demonstrates the ruthlessness by which English settlers engineered expropriation of Indian bodies, forcing them into servitude and slavery in English households and putting them up for sale in slave markets around the world. She begins with the Pequot War and the moral, religious, diplomatic, and pragmatic debates that led to the capture, dispersal, and sale of several hundred Indian women and children by 1637. (The English saw adult men as intrinsically combative and dangerous and so executed those not killed in battle). Many of these captives found themselves enslaved by the region’s most prominent English colonists, including John Winthrop and Roger Williams. Others were transported to the Caribbean and exchanged for African slaves.


3. Indian Ocean slave trade

indian slavery

Indian slavery

Focussing solely on African people enslaved across Asia would be hiding the extent of Indian Ocean slavery: Asian people were enslaved for centuries as well, with Asian slaves who survived shipwrecks on European ships found living with the indigenous population on South Africa’s coast long before colonization. There are also reports of Indian people enslaved and living in Kenya and Tanzania, and later, there was the large-scale movement of enslaved Asian people sent to work as slaves in colonial South Africa, starting from Dutch colonization in 1652. Enslaved Asian people in South Africa came from as far afield as Japan and Timor, but the majority were from India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and China.

In addition, men from Baluchistan in present-day Pakistan are regularly mentioned working as guards in relation to the slaving community-based in Tanzania in the 1800s, overseen by the Omani sultanate who ruled Zanzibar, and Indian and Chinese slaves were to be found in South Africa, as well as in parts of the African eastern coast.


2. Black Slaves, Indian Masters

indian slavery

Indian slavery

 

From the late eighteenth century through the end of the Civil War, Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians bought, sold, and owned Africans and African Americans as slaves, a fact that persisted after the tribes’ removal from the Deep South to Indian Territory. The tribes formulated racial and gender ideologies that justified this practice and marginalized free black people in the Indian nations well after the Civil War and slavery had ended. Through the end of the nineteenth century, ongoing conflicts among Choctaw, Chickasaw, and U.S. lawmakers left untold numbers of former slaves and their descendants in the two Indian nations without citizenship in either the Indian nations or the United States. In this groundbreaking study, Barbara Krauthamer rewrites the history of southern slavery, emancipation, race, and citizenship to reveal the centrality of Native American slaveholders and the black people they enslaved.

Krauthammer’s examination of slavery and emancipation highlights the ways Indian women’s gender roles changed with the arrival of slavery and changed again after emancipation and reveals complex dynamics of the race that shaped the lives of black people and Indians both before and after removal.


1. American Indians as Slaves

indian slavery

Indian slavery

By 1516 the Spanish census estimated that there were only 12,000 Native Americans in Haiti, down from an estimated 8 million before the Spanish conquest and 3 million in 1496. This population decline was caused by a combination of factors: (1) diseases introduced by the Europeans which proved deadly to the natives, (2) slavery which resulted in both death and deportation, (3) deliberate killing of Indians by the Spanish, and (4) dropping birth rates which are a common reflection of cultural stress.

The Spanish used religion as a way of justifying capturing Indian slaves. In 1519 Catholic Bishop Juan de Quevedo declared that Indians were slaves by nature because some people were by nature inferior. In 1619 the first African slaves arrived in Virginia, marking the beginning of what many consider to be the slave era in North America. While the English colonists used the African slaves on their plantations, they also continued to capture American Indians who were used as slaves on their plantations or sold in the Caribbean slave markets. Europeans and later Americans continued to capture and enslave Indians until the end of the nineteenth century.


Also read: 10 OF THE MOST CREEPY ANCIENT EGYPTIAN MUMMIES IN THE WORLD

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