Dr. Andrés Reséndez, a professor visiting from the University of California at Davis, gave a talk summarizing his book, The Other Slavery. The talk was fascinating and I learned a lot about a topic I really had not heard about before. In the United States, we talk a lot about the enslavement of Africans, but I never really realized how widespread and how many people were affected by the enslavement of Native Americans. Most enslaved natives were women and children, with men costing the least out of any group as most Native slaves performed more domestic tasks. This practice began with the Mayas and Aztecs as they needed bodies to sacrifice in religious ceremonies, but soon this procedure covered the whole region. Natives would be taken from their homes, often by deception at a young age, and shipped all over the world. Many ended up in Spain against their will, despite the trade of Native slaves being illegal. Most slaves that made it to Spain were eventually freed by the Spanish Crown.
One part of his talk that I found to be the most interesting was the role the Mormons played in perpetuating the trade of natives. The Mormons used the same logic as the Spanish Conquistadors in that they were buying slaves in order to “free” them and that they would be saved if they were part of the Mormon church. As the Mormons moved West, this practice became more and more common. I had never heard about the slave history of the Church, but when I did hear it, I was not surprised. This was a great talk about I subject that is not discussed in today’s society and also contributes to how we, as a country, look at Native Americans.