When we think about slavery we associate it with African Americans, but that’s an incomplete story. Indigenous populations were held as slaves as well. The site “Native Bound-Unbound: Archive of Indigenous Americans Enslaved” will rectify the omission. Through a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation a website will be built to digitize and piece together the information behind the lives of the millions of indigenous people whose lives were affected by slavery. The finished product will be like Enslave.org a database which has assembled information about the lives of enslaved African Americans and their descendants. The site will contain any document available, baptismal records, letters, oral histories, so that Native Americans can search for any family members or descendants who were enslaved.
From the 16th century at the time of Columbus to the end of the 19th century, the enslavement of Native Americans coexisted along that of African Americans, not only in the United States but in the whole hemisphere. Apache members were enslaved in the American Southwest and sold to work mines in Mexico. The Reche Mapuche people were enslaved in Chile and sold to work in Peru. Mormon settlers in Utah purchased Native Americans and converted them. As it was for African Americans, those enslaved were striped of their tribal identities and many descendants do not know the link to their heritage.
It may be a painful story but its being recognized, aired and made available for future generations is something for us all to embrace.