Historical accuracy?

Were whites, including children routinely kidnapped by Indians, and could they be sold on as depicted in the film? Were women kept as sex slaves, forced into marriage or raped and disposed of?


Eastern Indians routinely captured whites and members of other tribes, a few to be ritually tortured to death, but mostly for assimilation and turning into members of the tribes which captured them. In fact, during the Beaver Wars of the 1600s the Iroquois captured so many thousands of persons from the tribes which they destroyed that some Iroquois villages were populated mostly by former captives who had been turned into Iroquois.

And in the west members of warrior tribes who caught enemies might kill them instantly, or torture them to death, or make them part of the tribe, or treat them like slaves or domestic animals - the last two fates might be hard to tell apart at first.

Women and girls were often gang raped and horribly abused.

Mexican and American traders who worked with the dreaded Comanches were called comancheros. Comancheros would buy Mexican or American captives from the Comanches and ransom them to their families or sell them to the highest bidder.

For centuries Navajos captured Mexican and Pueblo Indian captives for slavery and/or adoption into their families and Mexicans and Pueblo Indians would captured Navajos as slaves and/or family members. This lasted until the Navajo defeat in 1864 and the Long Walk.

And Apaches captured Mexicans, other Indians, and Americans as slaves and family members, while Mexicans, other Indians,and Americans captured Apaches as slaves and family members.

On the Northern Plains Frank Giround was a rare example of a man captured by the Sioux and made part of their society before returning for to white society years later.

After the Minnesota Sioux uprising in 1862 was defeated in battle, the Sioux were not crushed as violently as many people wanted, since they had dozens of women and children captives and so General Sibley had to negotiate for the Sioux surrender and the release of the captives.

selling white captives to their families and friends or the authorities was common enough that in 1865 a Sioux warrior bought a captive woman from her captors and took her to Fort Laramie expecting to make a profit from a routine sale of her to the authorities. Unfortunately the new commander, Colonel Thomas Moonlight, had just been transferred west and didn't know much about Indians. So Moonlight was so horrified by the pitiful,incoherent state that she had been reduced to by a few weeks in captivity that he had the warrior hung, despite the protests of the post trader that the warrior claimed innocence.

So there was a trade in red and white captives in the west who were purchased by those intending to set them free or to use them as slaves illegally.


I recommend you read The Searchers: the making of an American legend by Glenn Frankel. Frankel takes an in-depth at the Le May story that was made into a great movie. He also tells of many such instances of kidnapping in the old west.