Mapping Amerindian Captivity in Colonial Mosquitia
Abstract

In 1764, Spanish colonel Luis Diez Navarro mapped the racially diverse British settlement at Black River on what is today the coast of northeastern Honduras. I use the map as a point of departure to ponder the origins of Amerindian and mestizo residents of Black River and other British settlements across the Mosquito Shore in the eighteenth century. I suggest that Diez Navarro’s map can be read to discuss a regional history of violence, the lengthy importance of northern European (and especially British) influence in the region, the significant presence of free people of color, and the social and economic importance of female captivity in general and the Amerindian slave trade in particular. The paper shows how the Afro-Amerindian and Amerindian Mosquito people became deeply entangled with the trade-driven supply of Amerindian captives during times of Anglo-Spanish peace, but also the capture of Amerindians, Africans, mestizos, and mulattos during times of Anglo-Spanish warfare. The paper argues that Amerindian, mestizo, and mulatto captivity made the Mosquito Shore one of the more racially mixed societies anywhere in the British Atlantic and deserves much more attention than it currently receives.