erica neeganagwedgin on the enslavement of canadian indigenous peoples

07Mar12

Erica Neeganagwedgin, “Chattling the Indigenous Other”: A historical examination of the enslavement of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada’, AlterNative 8, 1 (2012).

Many historians writing about Canadian history have failed to acknowledge, and some have even downright ignored, the history of chattel slavery that existed within Canada where Aboriginal people were bought and sold like commodities. Generally, when one thinks of chattel slavery, there are images of people of African ancestry being branded, whipped and labouring in cotton and tobacco fields or on sugar plantations. Yet, this is only part of a much more complex canvas of slavery in the “New World”. And while the history of chattel slavery as it pertains to people of African ancestry is relatively unknown and at times distorted, as is the case particularly in the educational system in Canada, it comes as even more of a surprise to most that Aboriginal peoples in Canada were also enslaved.

This analysis includes a review of particular accounts of Indigenous people as chattel slaves in Canada. As mentioned, this is a topic seldom discussed. I investigate the connection between colonialism, notions of racial superiority and chattel slavery, using an anti-colonial theoretical framework to contextualize this history of slavery, and examine chattel slavery and the enslave- ment of Aboriginal people.



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