Synopses & Reviews
This sweeping, richly evocative study examines the origins and legacies of a flourishing captive exchange economy within and among native American and Euramerican communities throughout the Southwest Borderlands from the Spanish colonial era to the end of the nineteenth century.
Indigenous and colonial traditions of capture, servitude, and kinship met and meshed in the borderlands, forming a "slave system" in which victims symbolized social wealth, performed services for their masters, and produced material goods under the threat of violence. Slave and livestock raiding and trading among Apaches, Comanches, Kiowas, Navajos, Utes, and Spaniards provided labor resources, redistributed wealth, and fostered kin connections that integrated disparate and antagonistic groups even as these practices renewed cycles of violence and warfare.
Always attentive to the corrosive effects of the "slave trade" on Indian and colonial societies, the book also explores slavery's centrality in intercultural trade, alliances, and "communities of interest" among groups often antagonistic to Spanish, Mexican, and American modernizing strategies. The extension of the moral and military campaigns of the American Civil War to the Southwest in a regional "war against slavery" brought differing forms of social stability but cost local communities much of their economic vitality and cultural flexibility.
"Bold and brilliant. [This] vivid narrative tells us why people simultaneously preyed on one another and absorbed one another in this violent land."
David J. Weber, Southern Methodist University
"Makes it impossible for historians to ignore colonial relationships in the Southwest that began contemporaneously with Jamestown and Plymouth and developed throughout the colonial period." Karen Ordahl Kupperman, New York University
"Contributes important new perspectives to continuing debates and opens new doors for comparisons and syntheses of borderlands as contested spaces of power and merging identities."
-- New Mexico Historical Review
"This is a stunning book, likely to be controversial in its particulars."
Richard White, Stanford University
"Brooks tells this history with clarity and judiciousness."
Journal of American History
Brooks examines the creation of a widespread system of intercultural slavery between Native Americans and Spanish colonial peoples in the American Southwest between 1500 and 1880.
About the Author
James F. Brooks is assistant professor of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is editor of Confounding the Color Line: The Indian-Black Experience in North America.
James F. Brooks on PowellsBooks.Blog
Awat'ovi Pueblo is among the loneliest of places I've walked. Once the most vibrant town in the ancient Puebloan Southwest, center of a vast exchange network of decorated pottery, maize, and cotton textiles, rich in ceremonial life and eastern gateway to the Hopi mesas, it now hosts little but the wind and sun...