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How Native Americans adopted slavery from white settlers | Colonialism

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Last week marked the 153rd anniversary of the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution in 1865. Rightly celebrated as a milestone for the black American community, the 13th Amendment led to the eventual liberation of all African Americans enslaved in the United States of the late 19th century. But the 13th Amendment did not free all black enslaved people in the boundaries of modern-day US.

Members of five Native American nations, the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole Nations (known as the Five Tribes), owned black slaves. Then located outside the territorial boundaries of the US in a region known as Indian Territory (modern-day Oklahoma), these sovereign nations were not affected by proclamations or constitutional amendments. Instead, separate treaties had to be made between the US and these Native American nations not only to free enslaved peoples, but also to formally end the American Civil War battles and antagonism between American and Native American troops.

The fact that by the time of the Civil War black chattel slavery had been an element of life among the Five Tribes for decades is rarely discussed. It is, however, an important aspect of US history which serves to remind us of the complexity of colonialism, exploitation and victimisation that laid the foundations of our country.

Captivity and slavery among Native Americans

The indigenous peoples of North America had utilised a form of captive-taking and involuntary labour long before European contact. But this form of bondage was neither trans-generational nor permanent. Captive-taking was most often used to replace a dead loved one within the family with a new person. The captive would then take on this deceased person’s sexual or labour-related capacities.

Through various avenues, such as “sexual relationships, adoption, hard work, military service, or escape, captives could enhance their status or even assume new identities.” After European contact in the 1500s, white Europeans persuaded Native Americans to enslave members of other Native American tribes using the European method of slave-trading, which focused on the accumulation of captives for sale and thus, profit, rather than for population augmentation.

The Native American slave trade thrived for over a century, but began to be largely phased out in the early to mid-18th century. An important factor in its decline was the Yamasee War of 1715-1717. After colonists in the English colony of Carolina began defaulting on some of their trade agreements and enslaving even members of their ally tribes, the Yamasee Nation began to question its own alliance with Carolina. Along with the Lower Creeks and the Savannahs, the Yamasees declared war on Carolina, killing 400 colonists, approximately seven percent of the white population. The Carolinian colonists put together a force of black slaves, militiamen, volunteers and friendly Native American nations, which defeated the Yamasees and their allies.

While the Yamasees lost, they succeeded in forcing European colonists to reconsider the risks inherent in the system of Native American enslavement. If Native Americans became angry at the terms of enslavement or allied Native Americans were accidentally enslaved, they might once again retaliate militarily. In addition, enslaved Native Americans often successfully escaped from their owners, as they were familiar with the geography and could elude slave catchers and return to their homelands.

Therefore, after the Yamasee War, the African transatlantic slave trade to the North American colonies drastically increased to account for the loss of Native American slaves.

Some members of the Five Tribes became owners of enslaved black women and men themselves, as they increasingly adapted to Euro-American norms, such as style of dress and governmental structure. Beginning in the late 1700s and intensifying in the early 1800s, members of the Five Tribes used enslaved black women and men as domestic and agricultural labourers. For example, Chickasaw planters exported an estimated 1,000 bales of cotton in 1830; this cotton was picked and processed by black slaves. Comparatively, in 1826, the state of Georgia produced 150,000 bales of cotton.

In 1860, about 30 years after their removal to Indian Territory from their respective homes in the Southeast, Cherokee Nation citizens owned 2,511 slaves (15 percent of their total population), Choctaw citizens owned 2,349 slaves (14 percent of their total population), and Creek citizens owned 1,532 slaves (10 percent of their total population). Chickasaw citizens owned 975 slaves, which amounted to 18 percent of their total population, a proportion equivalent to that of white slave owners in Tennessee, a former neighbour of the Chickasaw Nation and a large slaveholding state.

This made the Chickasaws the largest slave-holding nation of the Five Tribes, in proportion to their population. National laws restricted the movement of enslaved people, preventing them from learning to read and write, and prohibited interracial relationships.

However, as in the US, the majority of people in these nations did not own slaves. Large-scale crop production and the system of slavery that made it possible and lucrative were mainly adopted by wealthier Native families, whose prosperity allowed them to influence the political, social, and economic affairs of their nations. Thus, an influential proportion of tribal citizens stood to lose a vital part of their economic resources if emancipation took place.

The Five Tribes involved themselves in the Civil War militarily to preserve their practice of slavery and to fight for political autonomy. Members of all nations served on both the Union and Confederate sides of the war, and a number of battles took place within Indian Territory. After the war, the treaties signed between the US and all five of these slaveholding Native American nations, called the Treaties of 1866, ended wartime hostilities and freed and enfranchised people of African descent. These treaties were part of a larger American mission to take over Native American land, and also included land cessions and American settlement and railway construction in Indian Territory.

Citizenship rights

While the former slaves of the Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, and Choctaw Nations became tribal citizens due to the Treaties of 1866, throughout the 20th century, all of the Five Tribes eventually rescinded the tribal membership of these freedpeople and their descendants. Although their former slaves had lived among them for generations, sharing land, history, and trauma with them, the Five Tribes claimed that they were interlopers who had no place among them because they had no Native ancestry.

The descendants of these former slaves fought back, filing several lawsuits. On August 31, 2017, the descendants of people enslaved by members of the Cherokee Nation were victorious. The US District Court in Washington ruled that these descendants should have citizenship rights in the Cherokee Nation. Now the descendants of people enslaved by the Creek Nation have filed a similar suit, hoping to find commensurate validation.

So, when we observe and honour the anniversary of the 13th Amendment, let us remember that not all people of African descent had the same experience of freedom. Those African Americans living among western indigenous nations waited until the summer of 1866 to gain their freedom, and even then, they fought to find true liberation from economic, social, and political duress.

Just as our current moment sees white and black Americans arguing over the memory of the Civil War and the removal (or not) of Confederate monuments, so discussions of slavery in Native American nations and the historical relationships between the Five Tribes and people of African descent are also fraught with many difficult issues.

The story of the people of African descent owned by Native Americans is unique, but also simply another tale of coercion and community in the diverse African American experience.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

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Tiger-Cats claim victory against the Argos to maintain home record on Labour Day

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The Hamilton Tiger-Cats were at their devastating best against the Toronto Argonauts when the two locked horns on Labour Day at the Tim Hortons Field.

Just like with previous Labour Day fixtures, the Ticats produced a stellar performance with Dane Evans throwing two touchdown passes while Frankie Williams scored on a 67-yard punt return as they claimed a 32-19 victory on Monday. With this vital win, the Ticats extended their Labour Day home record to 7-0.

For players and fans of the Tiger-Cats, games on Labour Day are a lot more special and losing is something the Ticats aren’t used to.

“We know the fans are going to be behind us, we know Toronto is going to be chippy, we know it’s going to be sunny; we know it’s going to be windy. Everything that happened (Monday) we prepared for. There is something extremely special about Tim Hortons Field on Labour Day . . . you can feel it in the air, I can’t put it into words,” said Evans.

After the COVID-19 induced hiatus, the CFL is back in full action and fans can now bet on their favourite teams and just like with online slots Canada, real money can be won. Hamilton (2-2) recorded its second straight win to move into a tie atop the CFL East Division standings with Montreal Alouettes (2-2). Also, the Ticats lead the overall Labour Day series with Toronto 36-13-1.

In the sun-drenched gathering of 15,000—the maximum allowed under Ontario government COVID-19 protocols—the fans loved every minute of this feisty game. After all, this was the Ticats first home game in 659 days, since their 36-16 East Division final win over Edmonton in November 2019.

The contest between the Ticats and Argos was certainly not bereft of emotions, typical of a Labour Day fixture, as it ended with an on-field melee. But the Argos often found themselves on the wrong end of the decisions with several penalty calls and most of the game’s explosive plays.

Hamilton quarterback Evans completed 21-of-29 passing for 248 yards and the two touchdowns while Toronto’s make-shift quarterback Arbuckle completed 18-of-32 attempts for 207 yards. Arbuckle also made a touchdown and two interceptions before eventually being substituted by McLeod Bethel-Thompson.

Bethel-Thompson made an eight-yard TD pass to wide receiver Eric Rogers late in the final quarter of the game.

“They got after us a bit . . . we didn’t block, or pass protect well,” said Ryan Dinwiddie, rookie head coach of the Argos in a post-match interview. “They just kicked our butts; we’ve got to come back and be a better team next week.”

The Labour Day contest was the first of four fixtures this year between Toronto and Hamilton. The two teams would face off again on Friday at BMO Field. Afterwards, the Tim Hortons Field will play host to the Argonauts again on Oct. 11 with the regular-season finale scheduled for Nov. 12 in Toronto.

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Roughriders looking to bounce back after Labor Day defeat

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In what an unusual feeling for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, they would now need to dust themselves up after a 23-8 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in what was a Labor Day Classic showdown in front of a full capacity crowd at Mosaic stadium.

Craig Dickenson, head coach of the Riders, witnessed his team with an unbeaten record get utterly dominated by a more superior team from Winnipeg. Now, he has got a lot of work on his hands getting his team back to winning ways as they visit the Banjo Bowl next.

“We’re going to see what we’re made of now…the jury’s out,” said Dickenson.

Dan Clark, who played centre for the Riders expressed his disappointment in losing what was “the biggest game of the year”.

 “If you lose every other game, you don’t want to lose that one. We’ve just got to take the next step,” said Clark in a report. “There are 12 steps to the Grey Cup left and it’s just about taking that next step and focusing on what Saturday will bring.”

With their first defeat to Winnipeg, the Riders (3-1) now rank second place in the CFL’s West Division, trailing the Bombers by one victory (4-1). However, the Riders will have the chance to even the season series during their trip to Winnipeg this Saturday. With the CFL heating up, fans can now enjoy online sports betting Canada as they look forward to their team’s victory.

The Rider’s offensive line will once again have a busy time dealing with the Blue Bombers’ defence.

Quarterback Cody Fajardo, who played one of the best games of his career two weeks earlier, had quite a stinker against the Bombers in the Labour Day Classic—which is the most anticipated game for Rider fans.

Fajardo had a 59 per cent completion percentage which wasn’t quite indicative of what the actual figure was considering he was at 50 per cent before going on a late drive in the final quarter with the Bombers already becoming laid back just to protect the win.

Fajardo also registered a personal worst when he threw three interceptions, but in all fairness, he was always swarmed by the Bomber’s defence.

While Fajardo has claimed responsibility for the loss and letting his teammates down, many would be curious to see how the team fares in their next game and with less than a week of preparation.

Dickenson is confident that his team would improve during their rematch in the 17th edition of the Banjo Bowl in Winnipeg. The only challenge now would be the loss of home advantage and dealing with the noisy home crowd, he added.

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Canadian report reveals spike in food-related litter during pandemic

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TORONTO — Restaurants’ inability to offer their usual dine-in service during much of 2020 may explain why an unusually high amount of food-related litter was found across the country, a new report says.

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup (GCSC) is an annual program in which volunteers are encouraged to clean up green spaces and other natural areas.

Last year, single-use food and beverage containers made up 26.6 per cent of waste collected through the program – nearly twice as high a percentage as in 2019, before the pandemic.

“We suspect the change may be one of the many implications of COVID-19, including more people ordering restaurant takeaway and consuming more individually packaged foods,” GCSC spokesperson Julia Wakeling said in a press release.

While food- and beverage-related litter accounted for a greater percentage of waste uncovered by GCSC than in the past, it wasn’t the single largest category of items picked up through the program last year.

That dubious honour goes to cigarette butts and other smoking-related paraphernalia, which comprised nearly 29 per cent of all items collected. There were more than 83,000 cigarette butts among the 42,000 kilograms of waste found and clean up last year.

So-called “tiny trash” – little pieces of plastic and foam – also accounted for a sizeable share of the waste, making up 26.8 per cent of the total haul.

In addition to smoking-related items and tiny trash, the main pieces of litter removed by GCSC volunteers last year included nearly 22,000 food wrappers, more than 17,500 pieces of paper, more than 13,000 bottle caps and more than 10,000 beverage cans.

Discarded face masks and other forms of personal protective equipment were also detected and cleaned up, although not tallied in their own category.  PPE waste has been repeatedly cited as a concern by environmental advocates during the pandemic; a robin in Chilliwack, B.C. is the earliest known example of an animal that died due to coronavirus-related litter.

The GCSC is an annual program organized by Ocean Wise and the World Wildlife Fund Canada. Its operations were disrupted by the pandemic as well; only 15,000 volunteers took part in the program last year, versus 85,000 in 2019, due to delays and public health restrictions making large group clean-ups impossible.

Still, there was GCSC participation from every province and the Northwest Territories in 2020. Nearly half of the volunteers who took part were based in B.C., where the program began in 1994.

Data from past GCSC reports was used as part of the research backing Canada’s ban on certain single-use plastic items, which is scheduled to take effect by the end of 2021.

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