Stolen Relations: Centuries of Native Enslavement in the Americas

Between 1492 and 1900, an estimated 2.5 million to 5 million Native Americans were enslaved in North, Central, and South America. Indigenous people were enslaved in every European colony, including colonial New England. How is it that we have overlooked such an important part of this history and its effects over time? In this live panel discussion at the Boston Public Library, you are invited you to hear the words of members of the Nipmuc, Narragansett, Wampanoag Tribes and Nations, and from Linford Fisher, historian at Brown University and head of the Stolen Relations project. Click here for a 98-minute video of their presentation on November 15, 2023.

Lori Rogers-Stokes of the Partnership of Historic Bostons introduces Linford Fisher, project Principal Investigator and associate professor of history at Brown University as he summarizes some of the documents he has located that tell some of the stories of Indigenous enslavement in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Alexis Moreis, Wampanoag, Loren Spears, Narragansett, and Toney Holley, Nipmuc (above, left) relate a crucial hidden history far more true than the one most of us were taught about the way that Native people have both survived and thrived.

The Stolen Relations project at Brown University is a tribal collaborative project that seeks to understand the historic enslavement of Native Americans as part of a longer colonial process. In consultation with regional tribal representatives, the project is building a database of thousands of enslaved Natives in order to increase public awareness and make this information available to descendent communities. Its purpose, as its website says, is to recover stories of Indigenous enslavement in the Americas – stories long neglected and even forgotten.