We are not going back


We’re not going back

By Trace Hentz  (on WHY ICWA MATTERS)


Can you imagine this: you are a young girl and someone throws a bag over your head and ties your wrists and you end up on a boat? And that boat takes you to an island? And there are others there, just like you?

Can you imagine the horror of this, of being abducted?

This really happened in the Americas but we are just finding out about it.  Brown University in Rhode Island is investigating Indigenous slavery, finally looking at it in 2022.  I studied this slavery of American Indian people back in 2000 and wrote a paper called First Contact. I read the paper at NAJA in Florida. Most did believe me but it was so hard to find proof.

Who did this slavery? Not just Spain and France, it was England, too.  Some call this method colonizing the Americas and Indian people were just another commodity, a way to make money.

Scholars now estimate that between 2.5 and 5 million Natives were enslaved in the Americas between 1492 and the late nineteenth century – an astonishing number by any measure, even compared to the approximately 12.5 million Africans who were brought as slaves from Africa in this same time period. This is a long-neglected aspect of North American history in the age of European empires, one historians are now exploring in much greater depth. To begin to tabulate the immensity of indigenous slavery in the Americas and to centralize the research that is being done, the team of researchers I’m leading are documenting as many instances as possible of indigenous enslavement in the Americas between 1492 and 1900.  BROWN UNIVERSITY (www.indigenousslavery.org)

Another example:

The Treaty of Hartford was signed in 1637 and a different version was found hiding in the British Museum 20+ years ago.  That discovery of a piece of paper in the UK didn’t make any headlines in American or New England newspapers.  The final act of the Pequot War was on September 21, 1638, when Miantinomi (Narragansett Sachem), Uncas (or Poquiam, Mohegan Sachem), John Haynes, Roger Ludlow and Edward Hopkins signed a tripartite treaty. Known as the Treaty of Hartford, the articles of agreement specified: Forbade any followers of Sassacus (Pequot Sachem) to be called Pequots.

Governor John Winthrop (Slave owner: Harvard)
(1588–1649) Overseer (1637–1649)  His Slaves: The wife and two unnamed sons of Pequot Sachem Mononotto.  At least four other unnamed Indigenous people, two men and two women. https://www.thecrimson.com/article/2022/4/26/harvard-legacy-of-slavery-report/



For academics and scholars who write history, they definitely knew about the extermination of First Nations Indigenous people, and their murders and their enslavement, but conveniently chose not to write about it.  They knew the evidence was right there all along, but they chose not to document it. 

‘I agree that much of this history was hiding in plain sight (and in many published documents and sources that historians had used for decades to research colonial history in New England.’ Ohio State University Professor Margaret Ellen Newell, History Department  (Her book, Brethren by Nature: New England Indians, Colonists, and the Origins of American Slavery, received the 2016 James Rawley prize for best book on the history of race relations in America, Cornell Press.  (Her response to an email inquiry by author Trace Hentz) *

Most Americans don’t know that slave owners killed their slaves without mercy, just to keep the rest in terror, scared for their lives and their children’s lives: 

“Gen. Charles LeClerc wrote the French monarch Napoleon: We must destroy all the Negroes of the mountains, men and women, and keep only children under 12 (then import new ones.) So the French would need to inspire great terror.”  That is what they did.

Slavery in historical perspective:  Slavery was the cornerstone of the colonization of the Americas.  Of the ten million or so people who crossed the Atlantic before 1800, about eight and a half million—roughly six of every seven people—were enslaved Africans.  By the time the transatlantic trade was finally suppressed in the 1860s, a total of 10 million to 12 million Africans had been carried into New World slavery, while an estimated two million more had died in the passage. http://www.brown.edu/Research/Slavery_Justice/documents/SlaveryAndJustice.pdf

I’m sure plenty of you are aware that historians (history snobs) have controlled the narratives a long long time and created divisions in the way we think.  You’d guess right that they did this on purpose.

For years and years I searched for the books that mention what happened to tribes in the east, how they were loaded on boats and sold into slavery on the islands.  I met people from Bermuda who are relatives of these Eastern Indians who were enslaved.

You may not know these early chapters of COLONIZATION and SLAVERY in the Americas.  The next chapters are Residential Boarding Schools and The Indian Adoption Projects, and all the laws made to crush Tribal Sovereignty, etc.   Let me say that SOME EURO-white people have TAKEN what they wanted from the beginning and always invent ways to take more.

Like Goldwater Institute who is behind the unraveling of tribal sovereignty.  Like dismantling ICWA and the federal law protecting tribes from having their children stolen AGAIN via adoption.

Universities across the United States and the world have been forced to confront connections to slavery throughout their histories. From Brown to Yale, Oxford and in South Africa, students, faculty, and administrations wrestle with how to expose, conceal, honor, or memorialize the legacies of slavery.

I wonder if “they” realize how much they suppressed and oppressed history by keeping it theirs, locked up in academia archives, in costly history books, in their versions.  Today European churches and especially Spain’s churches and cathedrals are crammed full of stolen and looted gold from Peru: Gold that was mined by Indigenous slaves from the Americas.

Oh, our Indian bones are still locked up in their dusty drawers, too, in those same Ivy League Schools.  To them Indians are the distant past, relics, disappeared.  Some of these schools are sweating the revelations how they profited from the slave trade, too, of course.

We are not going back. 

We will not allow the future of Tribal Nations to experience HUMAN TRAFFICKING again via adoption or slavery.

If the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) fails we will write a stronger law.

I wrote more about this history here:  https://pressbooks.pub/cosmicglue/chapter/chapter-4/




NOVEMBER 9, 2022:  This makes Alaska one of many states now finding ways to protect state residents in the event that the landmark ICWA law is struck down by the Supreme Court. To date California, Oregon, Washington, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, Wisconsin and Oklahoma have similar local laws in place. 


Wounded Knee Repatriation Ceremony
November 5th in Barre, MA
11:00am - 5:00pm

When: Saturday, November 5, 2022; 1:00 – 3:00 PM Eastern
Where: Ruggles Lane Elementary 105 Ruggles Ln
Barre, MA
What:  Native Organizers Alliance is organizing Harvard students and faculty to participate in a ceremony to commemorate the return of remains and artifacts stolen from the Wounded Knee massacre site.  In the early 19th century, a traveling shoe salesman stole items from a gravesite at Wounded Knee in South Dakota.  At the event, more than 131 items including moccasins, weapons, arrows, and clothing, will be returned to representatives of the Oglala Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribes.
Speakers will include
Kevin Killer, Oglala Lakota Tribe President
Nipmuc Chief Cheryll Toney Holley;
Chair of the Massachusetts Commission On Indian Affairs

Ann Meilus, Barre Museum Association Board President


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