On Native American Slavery

Tucker Carlson Slavery

“Hi! Allow me to downplay white folks’ role in making life shitty for non-whites.”

In my last post I called Native American slave ownership “settler nonsense”. Allow me to clarify, I understand that according to Wikipedia the Five Civilized Tribes practiced slavery. These are the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole.

There are currently 566 federally-recognized First Nations in the U.S. If five of those 566 tribes practiced slavery then that’s .884%, or not quite 9/10ths of one percent of Native peoples. Yet talking hairdo Tucker Carlson up there calls Native American slaveholding “common.”

Hey, did you know there are roughly 250 additional First Nations without Federal recognition? Most of them have been fucked since 1492, but you’ve got to figure some of those people are just fakers trying to horn in on that sweet First Nations lifestyle – like avoiding taxes (myth), free college (myth), and stunning beauty (true) – so let’s subtract 10% of the Nations without tribal recognition to be on the safe side.

Tacking on another 225 unrecognized Peoples makes 791 First Nations, 5 of which practiced slavery. That’s about .633% – just over 6/10ths of one percent. These percentages are LOWER than what the Food and Drug Administration deems acceptable for rat hair in hot dogs, insect droppings in cereal, or rust in peanut butter, but Mediocrity Personified pictured above says: “Slaveholding Common Among North American Indians.”

blg 1 early childhood

“Is slavery the Five Civilized Tribes learned at the hand of colonizers equivalent to slavery embedded in those colonizers’ culture?”

Let’s talk about the Seminoles. The Seminoles were not Seminoles, they were Creek (another of the Five Civilized Tribes, remember) who travelled South and settled in Florida. Enslaved Africans often fled to Florida because it was under Spanish rule until 1821 (they established the all-black towns Zora Neale Hurston often wrote about, and thrived when not being burned out.). The fleeing Africans also found shelter and camaraderie with the traveling Creeks, who were rapidly adapting to the Florida climate and creating their own culture. These became the Seminoles, a mix of Creek and African folks, just doing their thing under the sun.

Andrew Jackson – aka “Sharp Knife” –  did his damnedest but he couldn’t conquer them. The Seminoles are the only Nation who never surrendered to Colonial rule. They were never forced to assimilate to colonial ways, and they never owned slaves. Yet at a glance, Wikipedia will tell you they were one of the Five Civilized Tribes who practiced slavery.

When you say “Seminoles” you are talking about three different Nations. The Seminole Tribe of Florida is the one I described in these paragraphs. The Miccosukee Indians of Florida also shared this history, but they split from the Seminole Tribe of Florida in the 1950s.

The third is the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, formed when Andrew Jackson forcibly relocated 3,000 Seminoles in the 1830s. The Seminole Nation of Oklahoma – 3,000 elders, children, women, and men marched at gunpoint over 2,000 miles – lived in peaceful co-existence with displaced Black Seminoles for 70 years.

In 1909, the US government carved the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma’s communal land into agricultural plots for individual members, and in the process voided the membership of Black Seminoles (known as Seminole Freedmen by that point). The light-skinned and dark-skinned folks of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma share the same history, but once the US government decided to favor one group with land over the other, it created a schism that has lasted until now.

But… the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma fought with the Confederacy in the Civil War.

Yet… the Confederacy kidnapped black Seminoles and enslaved them.

Also… the Seminoles discouraged their members from adopting white culture but had no qualms about relationships with blacks.

Did the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma actually practice slavery, or are they guilty by proximity?

So when you break it down that’s really only four Nations out of the 566 (or 791, depending on who you count).

Except that the term “Creek” encompasses twelve different Nations, spread out over several states… do you see how surface this is, the idea of Natives owning slaves? Even limiting the practice to the Five Civilized Tribes throws in Nations who never practiced it.

Okay, so someone behind a desk at Fox News told a lie. Alert the media. But this lie is also becoming more and more common, bandied about by regular folk of various races either trying to make whites not look like the enslaving assholes they historically were, or trying to paint Natives as just as culpable in enslaving Africans, or as proof that Natives were savages, or to prove whites didn’t bring slavery to Turtle Island.

But forget the lie of inflation; it happened. A tiny amount of owning another human being is still owning another human being, and trying to measure that evil is trying to assign value to human life. It’s loathsome and let’s not.

Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and some Creek nations learned slavery through being enslaved themselves. After being enslaved, slaughtered where they stood, subjected to chemical warfare, and finally ripped from their homes and relocated, the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and some Creek adopted enslavement of Africans in a desperate attempt to show the US that they could be just as “civilized” as whites. By some accounts Native Slaveowners were especially cruel, by other accounts they were ineffective, “gentle” Slaveowners. Whichever version you choose to lend credence to, equating the practice with the slavery perpetrated by colonists and the United States is ridiculous.

The Natives who practiced slavery, even under the boot of the US government, must own that crime. The tension between Natives with different ethnicities needs to be addressed. But this complex issue is not a talking point in whatever nonsense you’re trying to perpetrate.

Don’t use the complicated history of Native genocide to prop up the systems responsible for that genocide.

A disclaimer. I minored in History in college but I dropped out, and I didn’t start reading about the Seminoles until I moved to Florida in 1997. I am Ahkwesãhsne Kanien’kéha:ka. I’m not trying to speak for the Five Civilized Tribes, or present a comprehensive view of any of the Nations that designation encompasses, I am simply sick of seeing “but Natives owned slaves, too” in my social media and I want to show folks who use that argument how muddy those waters are.

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