Entwined Threads of Red & Black: Indigenous Enslavement in Louisiana, 1699-1824

Saturday, January 5, 2019
Stevens C Prefunction (Hilton Chicago)
Leila K. Blackbird, University of New Orleans
Contrary to nationalist teleologies, the enslavement of Native Americans was not a small and isolated practice in the territories that now comprise the United States. This paper is a case study of its history in Louisiana, from New France through the Early American Period, utilizing French Superior Council and Spanish judicial records, Louisiana Supreme Court cases, and statistical analysis of slave records. It argues that it was through anti-Blackness and anti-Indigeneity and with the utilization of socially constructed racial designations that “Indianness” was controlled and exploited, and that Native Americans and their mixed-race Black-Native descendants continued to be enslaved alongside the larger population Africans and African Americans in Louisiana. Lacking a decolonized lens and historiography inclusive of the enslavement of Indigenous peoples, the American story ignores the full impact of white settler colonialism and historical trauma.
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