Thus, a powerful tool by which enslaved Indian, African, and Afro-Indian populations would contend with their condition and seek to escape it was through the usage of legal petitions and suits that forced the law into a more concrete, specific, and comprehensible shape. Starting particularly after 1700, “[t]hese suits exposed many of the holes in New England’s law of slavery” (246), producing “a real challenge to colonial authority” (252). Still, these interventions affected the legal system differently depending on whether they came from enslaved Indians or enslaved Africans, given the disparate if connected histories, particularly in the matter of the condition’s heritability (248).
Literally mapping both geographically and chronologically the native, African, and English populations of New England alongside an embedded archive of legal petitions and suits for emancipation would create a powerful visual recontextualization of New England hybridity at the outset of the American project and across its history while also demonstrating the ways in which enslaved populations managed to literally and legally articulate their humanity within a system built against them.
Newell, Margaret Ellen. Brethren by Nature: New England Indians, Colonists, and the Origins of American
Slavery. Cornell UP, 2015.