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Slaves - Persons held as property by others.  Slavery was common to some Indian tribes in America.  Until the coming of the white man, slaves usually were other Indians captured in war and held within the tribe.  Later Indians learned the trading value of slaves.

The Navajo, after the Spanish had taken some of their tribesmen into slavery, began to make slaves of Mexican and Spanish men, women, and children.

Although there is little evidence that slavery was widespread in pre-Columbus days, it is known that the Tlingit  of the Northwest were old time slave holders.  Their slaves were war prisoners and often were killed either in anger or as a sacrifice.  The Tlingit had a special implement known as a "slave killer."

The French in the early days obtained many Pawnee slaves, captured by other tribes especially for sale to the French.  Such slaves were known as Panis, another word for Pawnee, but which later became a word meaning Indian slave.  The last auction of Indian slaves was held in Montreal in 1797.

The Natchez of the South owned many Negro slaves.  It has been recorded that in 1825 the Cherokee owned Negro slaves, the tribe as a whole having 1,275 in that year.  The Creek, Choctaw, and Chickasaw also learned the value of such slaves and when runaway Negroes fell into their hands they held them.  It was not long before all these tribes were buying and selling slaves.  The Seminole, on the other hand, treated runaway slaves differently and adopted them into the tribe.  It was this practice that brought on the First Seminole War.

Following the Civil War all Indian nations holding slaves were forced to free them.  This, of course, included the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, and Chickasaw, of the Five Civilized Tribes of Oklahoma.  In many cases the freed slaves were adopted into the tribes.

There are many stories of the early white settlers using Indians as slaves.  Those of South Carolina at one time carried back to Charleston the entire population of seven Indian villages -1,400 persons - and sold them among other settlers as slaves.  in New England the early colonists gave vanquished Indians the choice of entering villages of "Praying Indians" or being sold into slavery.
 
 

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