A friend from El Paso, Texas, sent me this: - March 12, 2004

Whenever Indian people point up the hypocrisy of white people, the white people in turn will often reply, "Well, Indians did it too." More often than not, however, Indians didn't "do it" quite the same way the white people did.

Raymond Friday Locke, a white man, wrote, with the cooperation of some Navajo people, a book called, "The Book of the Navajo". Although slavery is discussed in various parts of the book, one particular page pretty much sums it up. So, in case you haven't read it, here is what he says (p. 404-5):

(NOTE: Both Mexicans and Navajos took captives during the wars they fought with each other. However, the way they treated them is like the difference between night and day)

"...Captain Bennett pleaded the cause of the Navajo captives before the Commissioner of Indian Affairs: 'The Navajos believe and appreciate that their only friends are the military and other government officials. I earnestly request, that if possible, some steps be taken to do away with this system of peonage, and have the children held against their will returned to their parents - as Navajos love their children, and I think that they are entitled to them, the same as any race of people.' Bennett himself visited the New Mexican settlements, often accompanying Navajo headmen in an effort to secure the release of captives. 'The Mexicans,' he reported, 'showed not the first sign of a disposition to settle a single case, or attempt to bring to justice any of the guilty parties. They appeared to be afraid to even give evidence or assistance of any kind.'

But the efforts of Captain Bennett and others did not go without reward. In 1872 nearly 100 women were returned from the New Mexican settlements to their families. The New Mexicans deliberately failed to tell their Navajo slaves that, under the laws of the land, they were free. But the news that they were legally free spread and Navajo women were soon slipping away from ranches and towns, almost always taking the children that had been born to them in captivity home with them. But as late as 1886 Navajo men were still being issued passes to go into the settlements to look for their relatives.

"The New Mexicans, in turn, complained that the Navajos had never released all of their captives. Galen Eastman's successor, Denis Riordan, began a concentrated effort to find captives held by the Navajos in 1883. But, much to his bewilderment, no sooner would he free Navajo captives than they would escape from him and return to their Navajo homes. His replacement, John Bowman, was soon confronted with the same problem. He called on Manuelito and sternly ordered him to free his Mexican slaves. The Navajo headman replied, 'I claim no control over them in any way. They are not slaves but members of my family, at liberty to go anywhere or do anything they wish.' Confronting Manuelito's Mexican wife, the agent gave her the choice of moving to Fort Defiance and placing her children in school there or remaining with her 'master.' Juanita replied that she preferred to 'remain in captivity' with her 'master'.

"Agent Bowman finally understood that Navajo captives were not slaves per se but adopted members of a family. He wrote the Indian Commissioner that the slaves were 'the descendants of war captives, generations back. As according to their laws, the children always take the condition of the mother. The condition of a slave here, does not seem so very hard, because there is not a very strong contract between masters and slaves.' Bowman was probably not aware of it, but Ganado Mucho's father had been a Hopi captive. In his last letter to the Indian Commissioner on the subject, dated May 15, 1884, Bowman said, '(The Navajo slaves) do not want to be liberated, and I cannot see how we are able to do it. It is like guarding a jail to keep criminals from breaking in.'

"That ended the matter of captives held by the Navajos, but Navajos in the possession of the New Mexicans was entirely another matter. They almost always remained in a servile position throughout their life and their children often fared not better. The failure of the American government to return but a few of the Navajo captives was one of the contributing factors in causing the failure of another government project - Navajo education. Families who had lost children to slave raiders, never to see them again, refused to give up their children to be sent away to boarding schools for 4, 6 and 8 years. But that was only 1 of several reasons why the Navajos were extremely reluctant to 'learn paper' from the Americans."