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Tue Dec 21, 2021, 01:36 PM

A Grim, Long-Hidden Truth Emerges in Art: Native American Enslavement

Source: New York Times

A Grim, Long-Hidden Truth Emerges in Art: Native American Enslavement

Two exhibitions highlight stories of Indigenous bondage in southern Colorado, in an effort to grapple with the lasting trauma.

By Patricia Leigh Brown
Published Dec. 17, 2021
Updated Dec. 20, 2021

FORT GARLAND, Colo. — On a bitter, windy day, a long-overdue reckoning took place in the commandant’s quarters at Fort Garland Museum & Cultural Center, a former military outpost. For most of its history, the museum has celebrated the frontiersman Christopher (Kit) Carson, who briefly commanded this far-flung garrison built during American westward expansion to protect settlers from raids by tribes.

But now the museum was telling a far different story in an exhibition titled “Unsilenced: Indigenous Enslavement in Southern Colorado” — one of the first dedicated to highlighting details of the little-known and centuries-old system of Indigenous bondage that the historian Andrés Reséndez called “the other slavery” in his landmark 2016 book.

On this October afternoon, the quarters were redolent with smoke from a healing ceremony performed by a Navajo spiritual leader for the descendants from many tribes who had gathered this day to honor the grim history of kidnapping, enslavement and forced assimilation of their ancestors. Though glorified for decades, Kit Carson led a devastating 1864 U.S. military campaign to defeat Navajo resistance and remove Indigenous people from their homelands.

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Some scholars now argue that the brutal trafficking in Indigenous people began with Christopher Columbus’s first voyage in 1492 and flourished in the Southwest borderlands. Many women and children were taken and traded, sometimes in retaliatory tribal raids or in attacks by Spanish colonists; and much later, they were obtained and exchanged by American settlers. While Indigenous enslavement was never legal, slaveholders stubbornly resisted federal and state efforts to stop it.

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Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/17/arts/design/native-american-enslavement-colorado-exhibition.html

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