Home

Welcome to the Database of Indigenous Slavery in the Americas (DISA). This project, housed at Brown University, is a collaborative effort to build a database of enslaved indigenous people throughout time all across the Americas. Please note that this site is under construction, and the database does not yet have a public portal. We are actively working on this project, however, and and are looking for volunteers and scholars to contribute materials. We invite you to visit our About page to learn more about the project and how to contribute.

Image: “Wie sie Goldt in den Bächen so auss dem Gebirge Apalatcy fliessen suchen,” found in [Johann Feyerabend for Theodor de Bry], Der ander Theil der newlich erfundenen Landtschafft Americae, von dreyen Schiffahrten, so die Frantzosen in Floridam … gethan, 1591. Used by permission of the John Carter Brown Library.

About

The concept:

The Database of Indigenous Slavery in the Americas (DISA), is a community-centered database project that seeks to document as many instances of indigenous enslavement in the Americas between 1492 and 1900 (and beyond, where relevant). The hemispheric study of Native American slavery represents cutting-edge research in multi-lingual and multi-national contexts in the Americas. Scholars now estimate that between 2.5 and 5 million Natives were enslaved in the Americas between 1492 and the late nineteenth century – an astonishing number by any measure (even compared to the approximately 10.5 -12 million Africans who were brought as slaves from Africa in this same time period). DISA will allow the slow centralization of biographical information related to enslaved indigenous people and place them online where historians, researchers, students, tribal members, and families can use the information to reconstruct histories, chart networks, and make connections in ways that have never before been possible.

Timeline:

We are currently applying for larger grants and hope to have a public-facing prototype in 2021.

How to contribute:

In this early phase, the database is not yet public. While we are working on funding, a small team of researchers is slowly adding to the database. We are looking to partner with individuals and institutions who are willing to send materials they have or join our research team to input materials directly. Please contact Linford D. Fisher to learn more.

Acknowledgements

DISA has been generously funded and supported by the following entities:

Population Studies and Training Center, Brown University

Social Sciences Research Institute, Brown University

Office of the Vice President for Research, Brown University

Center for Digital Scholarship, Brown University Library

People

The Database of Indigenous Slavery in the Americas involves the following people:

Core team:

  • Linford D. Fisher, Associate Professor of History, Brown University (Principal Investigator)
  • Ashley Champagne, Digital Humanities Librarian, Center for Digital Scholarship, Brown University
  • Lydia Curliss, Physical Sciences Librarian, Academic Engagement, Brown University Library (Nipmuc)
  • Birkin Diana, Digital Technologies Developer, Brown University Library
  • Patrick Rashleigh, Data Visualization Coordinator, Center for Digital Scholarship, Brown University

Research Assistants

  • Kimonee Burk, PhD candidate, Brown University (Narragansett)
  • Ian Foster, MA candidate, Free University of Berlin, Germany
  • Maiah Letsch, MA candidate, Utrecht University, Netherlands
  • Atessa Savitt, undergraduate research assistant, Brown University
  • Zoe Zimmerman, undergraduate research assistant, Brown University

Community Collaborators (partial listing)

  • Ken Alves, Chief, Assonet Band of Wampanoags
  • Rodney Butler, Chairman, Mashantucket Pequot
  • Alma Gordon, Sonksq, Chappaquiddick Wampanoag
  • Faries Gray, Massachuset-Ponkapaog Tribe
  • Cheryll Toney Holley, Chief, Nipmuc Nation
  • Liz Coldwind Santana Kiser, Councilwoman, Chaubunagungamaug Nipmuck
  • Meagan Running Deer Page, Councilwoman, Pocasset Wampanoag Tribe
  • Ryan Page, Tribal Council Chairman, Pocasset Wampanoag Tribe
  • Jim Peters, Executive Director, Massachusetts Indian Affairs (Mashpee Wampanoag)
  • Paula Peters (Mashpee Wampanoag) 
  • Lorén Spears, Director, Tomaquag Museum (Narragansett)
  • Tall Oak Weeden (Pequot and Wampanoag)

Board of Advisors:

  • Tony Bogues, Director of the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice and Asa Messer Professor of Humanities and Critical Theory, Brown University
  • Alan Gallay, Lyndon B. Johnson Chair of American History, Texas Christian University
  • Rebecca A. Goetz, Associate Professor of History, New York University
  • Rae Gould, Associate Director of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative, Brown University (Nipmuc)
  • Walter Hawthorne, Professor of History, Michigan State University
  • Jane Landers, Professor of History, Vanderbilt University
  • Jason Mancini, Director, Connecticut Humanities
  • Greg O’Malley, Associate Professor of History, UC Santa Cruz
  • Marjory O’Toole, Little Compton Historical Society
  • Emily Owens, Assistant Professor of History, Brown University
  • Paula Peters, writer and historian (Mashpee Wampanoag)
  • Brett Rushforth, Assistant Professor of History, University of Oregon
  • Nancy van Deusen, Professor of History, Queen’s University, Ontario, Canada
  • Tall Oak Weeden, historian and activist (Wampanoag and Pequot)

Past Research Assistants and Contributors

  • Juan Bettancourt-Garcia, Ph.D. candidate, Department of History, Brown University
  • Claire Fishman, undergraduate research assistant, Brown University
  • Daniel Genkins, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, John Carter Brown Library
  • Olivia George, undergraduate research assistant, Brown University
  • Brooke Grasberger, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of History, Brown University (Graduate Student Coordinator)
  • Amanda Kazden, MA candidate, Public Humanities, Brown University
  • Marley-Vincent Lindsey, Ph.D. candidate, Department of History, Brown University (Research Assistant)
  • Ingrid Mader, undergraduate research assistant, Brown University
  • Heather Sanford, Ph.D. candidate, Department of History, Brown University (Graduate Student Coordinator)
  • Samuel Skinner, undergraduate research assistant, Brown University
  • Michael Simpson, Ph.D. candidate, Department of History, Brown University
  • Theodore Vial, undergraduate research assistant, Brown University
  • Gwenyth Winship, undergraduate research assistant, Brown University