Uh Oh, Reparations Snafu! Native-Americans Loved Owning African Slaves

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The Smithsonian has a new exhibit you might want to see. It’s all about the Native Americans who owned slaves, many had children together. Choctaw chief Greenwood LeFlore had 15,000 acres and 400 enslaved Africans.

This is his lovely home:

Take what you know about the Trail of Tears and the forced relocation of Native Americans and think slaves.

THE TRAIL OF TEARS WITH AFRICAN SLAVES

First of all, about the Trail of Tears, the Indians brought their slaves with them on the grueling march. Others were shipped en masse to what was to the future-Oklahoma on cramped boats by their Indian masters. Secondly, about that Indian removal, it was what the population wanted and was congressionally sanctioned by nine separate presidents, not only Andrew Jackson.

History isn’t always what we have been told or what we want it to be.

These uncomfortable complications in the narrative were brought to the forefront at a recent event held at the National Museum of the American Indian. Titled “Finding Common Ground,” the symposium offered a deep dive into intersectional African-American and Native American history.

The museum curator Paul Chaat Smith (Comanche), oversaw the design of the exhibit — “Americans” — on the museum’s third floor. It’s widely acclaimed and brutally honest.

HISTORY CAN BE DISAPPOINTING AND ENLIGHTENING

“I used to like history,” Smith told the crowd ruefully. “And sometimes, I still do. But not most of the time. Most of the time, history and I are frenemies at best.” In the case of the Trail of Tears and the enslavement of blacks by prominent members of all five so-called “Civilized Tribes” (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole), Smith went one step further, likening the ugly truth of history to a “mangy, snarling dog standing between you and a crowd-pleasing narrative.”

“Obviously,” Smith said, “the story should be, needs to be, that the enslaved black people and soon-to-be-exiled red people would join forces and defeat their oppressor.” But such was not the case—far from it. “The Five Civilized Tribes were deeply committed to slavery, established their own racialized black codes, immediately reestablished slavery when they arrived in Indian territory, rebuilt their nations with slave labor, crushed slave rebellions, and enthusiastically sided with the Confederacy in the Civil War.”

At the time, Indians held some stature as noble savages but Africans were thought to be beasts to bear their burdens.

There was a great deal of intermarriage and forced copulation between Native Americans and African slaves.

Chief John Ross
TWO HISTORIANS HOLD TWO VIEWS

Tiya Miles, an African-American historian at the University of Michigan, at the “Finding Common Ground” event, meticulously laid out primary-source evidence to paint a picture of Indian/African-American relations in the years leading up to the Civil War.

Native Americans, she said, had themselves been enslaved, even before African-Americans, and the two groups “were enslaved for approximately 150 years in tandem.” It wasn’t until the mid-18th-century that the bondage of Native Americans began to wane as Africans were imported in greater and greater numbers. Increasingly, where white colonists viewed Africans as little more than mindless beasts of burden, they saw Native Americans as something more: “noble savages,” unrefined but courageous and fierce.

The Indians allegedly took black slaves in part to demonstrate their “societal sophistication to white settlers.” [It’s still always the white man’s fault]

Miles doesn’t know that is true, but it could be part of the reasoning. The fact is it was lucrative to have free labor.

It’s important to remember, as Paul Chaat Smith says, that while most Native Americans did not own slaves, neither did most Mississippi whites. Slave ownership was a serious status symbol.

In truth,” Smith said, the Cherokee and other “Civilized Tribes were not that complicated. They were willful and determined oppressors of blacks they owned, enthusiastic participants in a global economy driven by cotton, and believers in the idea that they were equal to whites and superior to blacks.”

Native Americans were also enslaved by Spaniards.
WHO ARE THE HEROES

Push back on simplistic notions of who are the villains and who are the heroes. It’s not that simple, which is why presentism doesn’t work.

That doesn’t take away from the fact that the policy was horrible or that John Ross fought hard for Cherokees.

A quote from African anti-colonial leader Amílcar Cabral suits the retelling of history: “Tell no lies, and claim no easy victories.”

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10 COMMENTS

  1. I remember hearing a radio interview years ago about a black professor that was pushing “slavery reparations” and how all descendants of slaves should be given money by the federal government. After he gave his opinion the radio host allowed callers to ask questions and the very first caller was a white man who asked him if that included whites because one of his ancestors had been forced to come to America to repay a debt that his family owed a British high society family. The black professor gave a tense “No”, wouldn’t comment any further and cut the interview short.

  2. Slavery if told accurately was a universal practice among all cultures, so who do the Left now claim owes reparations, blacks were used by various groups, now seems to be owned by the Democrats.

  3. It wasn’t just Native American Indians that owned slaves………………………By 1830 there were 3,775 black families living in the South who owned black slaves. By 1860 there were about 3,000 slaves owned by black households in the city of New Orleans alone.

  4. The reparations issue is nonsense. Slavery was—and is—a great wrong, but the current generation of taxpayers should not be forced to pay for the wrongs committed by previous generations. Now that we know blacks owned slaves and oppressed their slaves, American Indians looked down on negroes and enslaved them—often mistreating their black slaves, the Trail of Tears was sanctioned by Congress and several presidents prior to Andrew Jackson, and hundreds of Indian-owned black slaves were forced by their Indian masters to travel with them on the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma, please, leftist politicians and activists, stop blaming Andrew Jackson and only white people for the Trail of Tears—and tell your Deep State controllers to stop promoting the payment of reparations as their latest hot political topic.

  5. The only Native Americans are the families of the Original Colonists who created this country from scratch, and gave it a set of laws to live by, and fought to defend it.

    Not stone age indigenous Indians who had yet to figure use of the wheel, slaughtered and enslaved neighboring tribes with impunity, and whom were not even citizens until 1924.

    • Which original colonists? The Vikings in Maine, the French who sold the Louisiana Purchase, or the Spanish who landed in Florida?

  6. The only Native Americans are the families of the Original Colonists who created this country from scratch, gave it a set of laws to live by, and fought to defend it.

    Not stone age indigenous Indians who had yet to figure out use of the wheel, slaughtered and enslaved neighboring tribes with impunity, and whom were not even citizens until 1924.

  7. The facts are that all folk’s ancestors have been enslave at one time or another in history. Deciding who would get reparations and who would pay would be impossible if the facts were allowed to be known.
    For one thing, who would pay for the inconveinent facts that it was mostly white folks, 500K +, who sacrificed their lives and fortunes to end slavery in this nation. Not to mention the dim party who fought all forms of civil rights from the end of the civil war to the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Folks need to educate themselves on how that really happened to understand the leftists are still attempting to keep the descendants for the slaves on the plantation via welfare and “social” programs.
    Ignorance of the facts keeps all of us enslaved to the leftist system. Truth will set us all free.
    Just sayin’.

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