“In Place of Horses”: Indigenous Burdeners and the Politics of the Early American South


Across the early Americas, goods traveled long-distance on the backs of Indigenous porters. Related to issues of rank, status, and gender, “burdening” proved especially contentious in the North American Southeast, where Natives increasingly viewed long-distance cargo-carrying as a dangerous and degrading occupation that implied subservience to European colonizers. Indigenous cargo-carrying persisted in Spanish Florida and English Carolina, despite regulation and periodic efforts to improve transportation, taking a heavy toll from Native peoples. Eventually, technological changes reduced but did not eliminate burdening from colonial logistics—but only after Natives exerted immense political pressure through flight, war, and threats of trade embargoes.

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