Stealing Indian Women

Native Slavery in the Illinois Country
Author: Carl J. Ekberg
The first history of Indian slavery in the Mississippi Valley during the colonial era
Paper – $27
Publication Date
Paperback: 01/04/2010
Buy the Book Request Desk/Examination Copy Request Review Copy Request Rights or Permissions Request Alternate Format Preview

About the Book

Based almost entirely on original source documents from the United States, France, and Spain, Carl J. Ekberg’s Stealing Indian Women provides an innovative overview of Indian slavery in the Mississippi Valley. His detailed study of a fascinating and convoluted criminal case involving various slave women and a métis (mixed-blood) woodsman named Céladon illuminates race and gender relations, Creole culture, and the lives of Indian slaves--particularly women--in ways never before possible.

About the Author

Carl J. Ekberg is professor emeritus of history at Illinois State University. He is the author of many books, including the award-winning Colonial Ste. Genevieve and French Roots in the Illinois Country: The Mississippi Frontier in Colonial Times.

Also by this author

French Roots in the Illinois Country coverSt. Louis Rising cover


"Ekberg presents perhaps the most complete portrait of any Indian slave women in eighteenth-century North America."--American Historical Review

"With special attention to race, ethnicity, and gender, [Ekberg] focuses upon the relatively unexplored subject of Indian and metis slavery, which often blurred distinctions between captive, slave, and adoptee. . . . An important interpretive work for specialists and all academic libraries. Highly recommended."--Choice

"Stealing Indian Women is a fascinating examination. . . . A demonstration of Ekberg's absolutely tenacious research and mastery of sources on Illinois Country. . . . Ekberg's contribution will be definitive for some time."--H-France Reviews

"Ekberg's work is a fascinating read that displays the full spectrum of his skills as an historian: painstaking research, stirring prose, and the ability to humanize overarching historical processes. . . . Stealing Indian Women, in fact, provides the most comprehensive assessment of this native slave system yet in print, and traces the institution's broad outlines through a survey of existing historical literature and a thorough interrogation of archival records."--Journal of Illinois History

"Ekberg has again demonstrated that he is the premier authority on the Illinois Country during the French and Spanish colonial era. His latest work emphasizes an aspect of life that has generally been overlooked--or which has at least gone without systematic scrutiny--by other scholars: the enslavement of Native people, especially women."--Ohio History


Stealing Indian Women possesses all the qualities that have become synonymous with Ekberg’s work: groundbreaking and meticulous research, engaging prose, and a unique ability to capture a sense of place and time. His richly textured account reveals practices at odds with long-held suppositions about Indian slavery in the Illinois country and, most important of all, he succeeds in attaching human faces to an institution that has been little noticed and even less understood."--William E. Foley, author of Wilderness Journey: The Life of William Clark

"Stealing Indian Women provides valuable insights into Native American slavery, which has been generally ignored in the history of the upper Mississippi Valley. An intriguing case study of the particular circumstances surrounding the theft of a Native American slave woman from Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, in 1773-74 helps to 'humanize' the role of slaves in this region and provides a concrete example of how slavery impacted the lives of the people it embraced."--R. David Edmunds, coauthor of The People: A History of Native America

"What is most compelling about Stealing Indian Women is its thick description, behind which lays a mastery of archival sources on the Illinois Country unmatched by any other scholar. Stealing Indian Women is the culmination of Ekberg's immersion of several decades in these sources; anyone wishing to learn about the French in North America will read this book, and Ekberg's earlier works on the Illinois Country, for years to come."--Susan E. Gray, coeditor of Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies