Lesson 3: The Mistreatment of Native Americans

In this lesson, students will expand on their knowledge about slavery by exploring the tasks and conditions Native Americans were forced to withstand. Native American enslavement manifested itself in many forms during European colonization, ranging from explicit slavery to encomienda systems, missions, and presidios (i.e. fortified military settlements). Even as some European monarchies like the Spanish Crown and individuals perpetrated genocide and enslavement on Native peoples, some other Europeans began campaigns to protect the rights of Native Americans. In an effort to reveal the horrors of Native enslavement, some prominent European figures like Bartolomé de las Casas left a telling historical record of the enslavement and mistreatment of various Native peoples.  From these accounts, students will gather more details regarding the exploitation and abuse of Native American communities.


Please use your own discretion in presenting this lesson to you class as its content is graphic. While this lesson showcasing how Native Americans were physically abused contains strong, graphic content, this information, ultimately, is paramount to understanding the stark realities of the slave system and how its vestiges affect Native American communities today. Based on the age range, matureness, and sensitivity of students in your classroom, you may find that this lesson is not well-suited for your classroom.