Slavery in the Southwest

 When people reference former slavery institutions in the United States, they usually mean the African slave trade, but recent scholarship investigating kinship and economic systems in the pre-U.S. American West has revealed an intricate slave trade spanning dozens of nations and thousands of miles, vestiges of which persisted well into the 20th Century.

Abiquiu Pueblo represents a unique twist in the story of slavery in New Mexico: In 1747, much of the Northern New Mexico villages along the Rio Grande had been evacuated because of borderland warfare. (War that had a lot to do with slave trafficking.) 

In 1754, the Spanish government gave a Land Grant to 34 families of Genizaro people—detribalized natives who were either freed slaves or people descended from slaves. This group was not traditionally privileged with land ownership, especially not on the scale of a Land Grant. One reason for the exception could have been strategic: to use a subaltern class as buffer between Santa Fe and the ongoing violence. 

Although the Genizaro people were compelled to defend their land as soon as they received it, Abiquiu did integrate and adapt to their borderland. They even came to host a slave trade of their own.