What was the impact of the Indian slave trade on North America?

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The Indian slave trade, often ignored in high school and even college textbooks, was an important factor in the development of the southern colonies in particular. From the late seventeenth century to the second decade of the eighteenth, when the Tuscarora and Yamassee Wars brought the trade to an end, the Indian slave trade was a major source of labor and capital for the Carolinas and Virginia. The trade was supplied by Indian peoples, including the Yamassee and Westos, who gained slaves through raids on surrounding peoples. The result for Indian peoples throughout the Southeast was endemic warfare, infighting within tribes, and population depletion. Many smaller groups sought refuge with larger groups like the Creeks and Catawbas. For the unfortunate people sold into slavery, most were bound for the Caribbean, and the money made from the trade was used as capital to purchase African slaves, among other things. The trade also existed in the North, where many Indian war captives, most notably the Pequot, were sold into slavery. Indian slavery was another form of unfree labor, which was perhaps the defining feature of life in many of the American colonies.

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What impacts did the Native American slave trade have on North America?  

When we think of slaves, we often think of African slaves, but many slaves in North America’s colonial days were actually Native American. Let’s look at Native American slavery and the Native American slave trade to help you get started on this question.

Some people in the Southern colonies saw the possibility of plantations like those in the West Indies. But plantations required plenty of labor, and that labor sometimes came from Native American slaves. Colonists traded with the Native Americans for slaves. Some they kept to work on the plantations. Others they actually traded to the West Indies. But Native American slavery was not limited to the Southern colonies. It occurred in many places throughout North America, and slaves were often transported hundreds of miles from their homes.

Events like the Yamassee War in 1715–1717 pitted the colonists against the Native Americans, and to a point, colonists began to limit Native American slavery and its risks by importing more African slaves. Native American slavery, however, did continue and even remained widespread into the nineteen century. We can note that Native American slavery was one of the ways the colonists tried to assert their dominance. It also led to many tribes moving farther away from the colonies to avoid slave raids, thus changing the makeup of the population.

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