Letter – Slavery lingered past Juneteenth

Published 7:20 pm Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

As we approach the latter part of June and the 19th is upon us, there are those who like to call attention to the new holiday called Juneteenth. 

Juneteenth recognizes when the slaves in Texas were notified of the end of the Civil War, and that their freedom had been won from the Democrat-run south. It is said that the slaves in Texas were the very last slaves to be set free in the United States. However, this is completely untrue.

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With a bit of digging in history, we find that there were still black slaves held in slavery after the Civil War had ended.

Five Native American Indian tribes, including the Choctaw nation, had actually participated in the Civil War on the side of the Confederate states, and each of these Indian nations held slaves. Despite the end of the Civil War, they refused to release their slaves to freedom and it actually took the federal government to negotiate with those nations, paying them $300,000 to get them to change their own constitutions and to set the slaves free, which actually took place in 1866, a year after the Civil War ended.

Of course, Juneteenth is still an important and memorable event in history, but it certainly is not the full story, since it did not mark the very end of slavery in America.

For whatever reason minor details such as this sometimes get left out of everyday common knowledge and even the history books.

Most Americans probably do not know that there were several Native American tribes that participated in slavery, just as some also attacked tribes and committed horrible massacres, all for the purpose of capturing land, property and goods.

History is very nuanced and replete with details, requiring one to always view it by seeing the bigger picture and not getting lost in only certain details.


Dave Lyons