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Book 'The Other Slavery' Hailed as Landmark History

Andres Resendez didn't set out to write a sweeping narrative when he first began to research the history of enslavement of Native Americans in North America.

“My initial idea was to write a more restricted, more contained book,” the UC Davis history professor said in a recent interview on San Francisco public radio station KALW’s Your Call program. “But the more I learned about it, the more I realized that the best service I could do for the public and for the [history] profession at large was to point to the larger story, the big picture.”

His resulting book, The Other Slavery, The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America, (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016), has done just that, according to widespread critical acclaim.

“It is not often that a single work of history can change the course of an entire field and upset the received notions and received knowledge of the generations, but that is exactly what The Other Slavery does,” begins a review in the Los Angeles Times.

“No other book before has so thoroughly related the broad history of Indian slavery in the Americas, and not just its facts but the very reason it has been overlooked,” writes a San Francisco Chronicle reviewer.

“Andrés Reséndez lifts the veil of time to dispel ‘our historical myopia’ of the enslavement of Native Americans,” according to The Chicago Review of Books.

The book builds the case that slavery played a bigger role than epidemics in decimating Native American populations.

In his interview with Your Call radio program host Rose Aguilar, Reséndez said there are many local accounts of enslavement of Native Americans.

“But it is very easy to dismiss those and say, well, a couple of dozen here and a couple of dozen there don’t really add up to much,” he said. “So eventually… I became persuaded that the best thing I could do was try to come up with a big estimate and to try to provide an outline of the whole system of enslavement that loomed over North America for four centuries.”

Reséndez called Indian slavery a “massive story” with relevance today.

“I think it’s important to remember it because today the kinds of human trafficking that go on can be traced more directly to these forms of bondage that I’m talking about, rather than a system like African American slavery that was sanctioned by states. Today, slavery is all over the world — 35.8 million human beings around the world are enslaved in these other types of activities that pose as labor arrangements, yet they are akin to slavery. That’s the story that I want to tell. That’s the continuity that’s worth remembering.”

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