Christine Stark and Eileen Hudon
The social, political, and cultural instability during the colonial era and American Revolution involved ongoing warfare, shifting allegiances among Indigenous and European nations, enslavement, and relocation of Indigenous people.

Indigenous women and girls were particularly impacted “…as females during wartime, colonial expansion, and slavery… [are] especially vulnerable to the sexual violence that so often accompanied conquest…” (Miles, 2008). 

This paper seeks to illustrate the impact of human trafficking on Native women and girls in our times, with particular attention to the historical context in the United States and the interconnection between trafficking and housing instability. 

Historical Sex Trafficking of Native Women Christopher Columbus and his men raped, enslaved, maimed, and murdered the Taino people upon landing on their shores. This included selling the Taino women and girls for rape–what is now called sex trafficking. Columbus wrote in his journals, A hundred castellanos are as easily obtained for a woman as for a farm, and it is very general and there are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from nine to ten are now in demand (Columbus, 2003). 

These abuses spread as Spanish and other European countries colonized the continent, making sex trafficking a central component of the colonization of Indigenous people in Central and North America. During the American Revolution George “Washington’s troops put to death all the women and children, excepting some of the young women, whom they carried away for the use of their soldiers and were afterwards put to death in a more shameful manner” (Sjursen, 2018). As European countries settled the continent, Indigenous women and children were bought and sold for sex and labor trafficking, including at government and Christian-run boarding schools (Stark, 2019). From the beginning, Europeans scapegoated Indigenous people, casting Indigenous women as prostitutes that exist to be sexually used.