Blood vineyards, slave labor and the US wine industry

Frances Dinkelspiel writes in “California’s Wine Industry was Built on Slave Labor,”:

California, which had been part of Mexico until 1848, tried to solve the labor shortage in the spring of 1850 with a law that essentially enslaved Native Americans so they could be put to work in the vineyards.

Nicknamed the Indian Indenture Act, which was, in fact, the very first legislation that the state passed, cruelly stripped California’s Native Americans of most of their rights. It allowed any white man to identify a Native American as vagrant, lazy, or drunk, which would permit a marshal or sheriff to arrest and fine him. Since most Native Americans could not pay theses fines, a week’s worth of their labor would be auctioned off to the highest bidder, who would then pay the fines. The Native Americans couldn’t protest against their treatment because the law also prohibited them from testifying against white men in court. [link]

 

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