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Belen, New Mexico
The Hub City, B-Town
Location of Belen, New Mexico
|• Mayor||Jerah R. Cordova|
|• Total||18.98 sq mi (49.15 km2)|
|• Land||18.95 sq mi (49.09 km2)|
|• Water||0.02 sq mi (0.06 km2)|
|Elevation||4,810 ft (1,466 m)|
|• Density||391.24/sq mi (151.06/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-7 (Mountain (MST))|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-6 (MDT)|
|GNIS feature ID||0923557|
Belen ( // ; Spanish : Belén) is the second most populous city in Valencia County, New Mexico, United States, after its county seat, Los Lunas. The population was 7,269 at the 2010 Census.
Belen is Spanish for Bethlehem but gained the nickname "The Hub City". The city is geographically near the center of New Mexico and has been a significant transportation hub for central New Mexico that includes access to rail, the interstate highway and air at Valencia County's only public airport.
Belen is at the southern end of the Albuquerque Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city is located 35 miles south of Albuquerque.
Belen was founded in 1740 as Nuestra Señora de Belén (Our Lady of Bethlehem) by a group of colonists led by Diego Torres and Antonio Salazar, who had received permission to settle the tract of land known as the Belen Grant.The early settlers in the Belen grant included several genízaro families. The genízaros, American Indians with origins as slaves and servants of the colonists, were important in the frontier defense of New Mexico. For the genízaros, relocation to Belen and other frontier settlements was a means of acquiring land. Their settlement in Belen was established to protect the southern border of the colony from Apache raiders. Belen was the first of what would be many genízaro settlements and, by 1744, 40 families were in residence. Spanish and mestizo families were also settled in Belen.
Recognizing the strategic significance of Belen, Spanish authorities established a fort in Belen to protect the settlements along the Rio Grande in 1760. By the 1790s, Belen had established a city center known as Plaza Vieja, or Old Town, and had grown from a paraje, or precinct, to a partido, or district, with a population of 1,695. By 1793, a Catholic church and parish was founded.
By the middle of the 19th century, Belen had outgrown Old Town and was expanding into what became known as New Town. In 1853, the residents in each part of town disagreed over the construction of a new Catholic church, with residents of Old Town wanting the new church to remain there, while residents of New Town wanted it built in their part of town. Ultimately, the adobe church in Old Town was abandoned and a new church was built in New Town. In 1910, the last ruins of the former church were dynamited and the crushed adobe was used to pave New Town's main avenue — Becker Avenue.
The residents of Valencia County spent nearly 30 years from 1846 to 1875 disputing where the county seat should be located. Valencia, north of Belen, was the county seat in 1846, followed by Peralta in 1847. Valencia reclaimed the county seat in 1849, only to lose it to Tome in 1852. Belen captured the county seat from Tome 20 years later, but lost it to Tome two short years later in 1874. Finally, in 1875, Los Lunas claimed the county seat and remains the county seat to this day.
In the late winter of 1862, Belen, an ally of the Union, become entangled in the Civil War when the town briefly fell under Confederate control after 400 Confederate soldiers marched into Belen. By summer, however, the Confederate army had completely withdrawn from New Mexico.
In 1880, the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway reached Belen during the construction of a rail line to El Paso. In 1884, the General Land Office, through the authority of President Ulysses S. Grant, established the Town of Belen. By the turn of the century, local merchant John Becker had designed a commercial and residential plan for the town. Becker's plan laid out Belen on a grid, extending from a commercial center with two grand avenues — Becker Avenue and Dalies Avenue. Originally, all of the town's streets were to be named after Spanish explorers, such as Coronado, but were quickly changed to the last names of the town's founders, such as Becker, Paul Dalies and Charles Reinken.
In 1907, the Belen Cutoff for the Santa Fe Railway was completed, connecting Amarillo with Belen.Prior to the Belen Cutoff, trains used the steep Raton Pass on the Colorado and New Mexico border. The cutoff made it possible for many more trains to travel east and west across the United States. Facilities at Belen included a large roundhouse and a classification yard, serving also branches southward to El Paso and northward through Albuquerque to Colorado. Today, Belen remains a major refueling station for BNSF Railway, where an average of 110 trains travel through Belen in a 24-hour period on the Southern Transcon.
Belen was officially incorporated as a municipality in 1918.It was originally called the "Village of Belen", later becoming the "City of Belen".
In 1927, Belen native and movie stunt pilot Arthur C. Goebel took up the challenge by James D. Dole, the Hawaii pineapple magnate, to race with other pilots to be the first to fly nonstop from the mainland United States to the Hawaii territory in what is known as the Dole Air Race. Goebel flew the Woolaroc. Of the 13 planes that qualified, seven were lost in crashes, killing ten people. Only two planes made it safely to Hawaii. Goebel landed first in Hawaii after a nonstop 26 hours, 17 minutes and 33 seconds, receiving the top prize of $25,000.
The world's first atomic bomb, in unassembled pieces, traveled through Belen in July 1945 en route to the Trinity site at what is now White Sands Missile Range. The bomb's Belen route used old Highway 85, now Highway 314, also known as Main Street. Located in downtown Belen in 1945 was Roy's Cafe, a restaurant where military and science personnel would go to grab a meal, since it had the necessary security clearance. Local legend suggests personnel escorting the atomic bomb, and perhaps the bomb itself, stopped at Roy's Cafe as they passed through town.
In 1950, William F. Beavers, owner of B&B Cafe on Becker Avenue, filed the first patent for a machine that sliced potatoes into waffle-like slices, vowing to help commercialize the now famed waffle fry in cafes across the United States. His patent was granted two years later for what he called a "slicing machine with stationary knife and reciprocating carrier" made "for the slicing of potatoes and like foods into attractive shapes." The waffle fries could be paired with Belen's own Hub City soda pop brewed and bottled locally by the Belen Bottling Co. The soda's trademark was "Pop with Personality".
Belen is located at 4.7 square miles (12 km2), all land. The city lies in the Albuquerque Basin on the west bank of the Rio Grande.(34.665587, -106.776225). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of
This climate type occurs primarily on the periphery of the true deserts in low-latitude semiarid steppe regions.
|Climate data for Belen, New Mexico|
|Average high °F (°C)||50.7|
|Average low °F (°C)||18.6|
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||0.3|
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||2||2||3||2||2||2||6||7||4||3||2||2||37|
Belen's central business district and downtown is located along Becker and Dalies avenues, stretching from the BNSF rail yard to Main Street. Downtown Belen features structures dating back to the early 20th century when the railroad came into town.
The Belen Hotel and Central Hotel, both located on Becker Avenue, are two-story structures built to accommodate railroaders and other rail guests in the early 1900s. Both were constructed of bricks made from the former Belen brickyard.Today, the Belen Hotel has been converted into a private residence and private art gallery, while the Central Hotel has been renovated to include a private residence upstairs with a wine tasting room as well as an event space and ballroom downstairs.
Old City Hall, also located on Becker Avenue, is a 1938 Works Progress Administration project, which housed the former Belen City Hall and fire department.The two-story building was constructed of terron, a material similar to adobe.
The Belen Harvey House is located within feet of the BNSF rail yard. It is a two-story building opened in 1907, one year before completion of the Belen Cutoff, to provide room and board to railroaders and others passing through.The original Belen rail depot is adjacent to the Harvey House grounds, owned by BNSF and used as office space for the railroad.
Of the more architecturally significant buildings, because of the engineering behind the architecture, is the Scholle building, located at the intersection of Main Street and Becker Avenue. The Scholle building, originally designed as a Swiss chalet, has more than eight miles of rail built into its walls.
The Oñate Theater, located on Dalies Avenue, was built in the early 20th century, showing many of the biggest marquee films. The theater is situated on the same block as three other historic buildings.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the 2000 United States Census,there were 6,901 people, 2,596 households, and 1,778 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,463.1 people per square mile (564.5/km2). There were 2,952 housing units at an average density of 625.9 per square mile (241.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 67.50% White, 1.07% African American, 1.65% Native American, 0.17% Asian, 0.16% Pacific Islander, 25.39% from other races, and 4.06% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 68.61% of the population.
There were 2,596 households, out of which 34.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.3% were married couples living together, 17.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.5% were non-families. 26.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.61 and the average family size was 3.14.
In the city, the population was spread out, with 28.8% under the age of 18, 9.6% from 18 to 24, 25.5% from 25 to 44, 21.0% from 45 to 64, and 15.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.4 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $26,754, and the median income for a family was $30,765. Males had a median income of $26,551 versus $21,300 for females. The per capita income for the city was $12,999. About 23.2% of families and 24.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 33.9% of those under age 18 and 18.2% of those age 65 or over.
Belen is governed by a mayor-council form of government, with a city manager. The governing body consists of an elected mayor and four elected councilors. The city also has an elected municipal judge. Belen has five appointed positions: city manager, police chief, fire chief, treasurer and clerk.
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Belen is home to a number of annual cultural events, including the St. Patrick's Day Balloon Rallye on the Saturday before St. Patrick's Day, the All-American Fourth of July around July 4, Rio Abajo Days on the last Saturday in September, and the Miracle on Main Street Festival and Electric Light Parade on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
The Hispano Matanza, held annually in Belen on the last Saturday in January, is considered the world's largest matanza, a Spanish-style barbecue that can trace its origin back to the conquistadors. This New Mexico matanza tradition, hosted by the Hispano Chamber of Valencia County, involves slaughtering and cooking 45 pigs, then serving the free food, such as chicharrones, to more than 10,000 patrons. All of the proceeds are given as scholarships to local college students.
The Our Lady of Belen Fiestas, held annually in Belen during one weekend in mid-August, is an event that has been around for more than 220 years. The fiestas, or parties, draws thousands of people from across the state and country to Belen for religious observance, and to celebrate with a carnival. The fiestas is held around the time Valencia County's green chile is ready for harvest, making its way as a garnishing the "Fiesta Burger."
Follow the Star is an annual celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and pays homage to the Christian heritage of Belen (Spanish for Bethlehem), held each December. The journey begins at Second St. and Becker Ave. in Belen's historic downtown and proceeds to Sixth St. and Becker Ave., culminating in the lighting of the Star of Bethlehem on Belen's water tower. Along the path the Christmas story is told with live characters and music by sponsoring churches.
Belen has the only Harvey House Museum in New Mexico. The Santa Fe railroad arrived in Belen in 1880, when Belen was a small farming community. For the next 25 years, there was little train traffic through Belen, because the main rail line went west from Albuquerque. In 1908, the railroad opened a new line that avoided the steep grades over Raton Pass. This new line was the Belen cut-off, and it routed many more trains through Belen. Shortly after the new development, Belen began to bustle.
Rail passengers who stopped in Belen needed a place to get a good meal, so in 1910, the railroad built a Harvey House restaurant right by the railroad tracks. It was the 86th restaurant in the chain, operated by Fred Harvey. It contained a large lunchroom, a more formal dining room, a newsstand, kitchen facilities, a bakery, and sleeping rooms upstairs for the Harvey Girls who served the meals.
That Harvey House is still standing today. It houses memorabilia pertaining to the Harvey House and the Santa Fe Railway, as well as exhibits on early local businesses and residents in Belen.
The Belen Harvey House is the official railroad museum of the State of New Mexico and is a branch of the Belen Public Library.
Belen has nine parks and is home to the Valencia County Fairgrounds.
The Valencia County Fairgrounds is situated along the I-25 Bypass on the northside of Belen. The fairgrounds includes two rodeo areas and the Sheriff's Posse, a restaurant and dance hall. Every August, the fairgrounds hosts the Valencia County Fair, coupled with the fair parade down Main Street.
Eagle Park is located near I-25 and Belen High School. It is Belen's multipurpose park, including several soccer fields, baseball fields, tennis courts, and an outdoor basketball court. Eagle Park also has a community center with a weight room, indoor basketball court, and a number of meeting rooms.
The historic Anna Becker Park, located in downtown Belen and named after the wife of Belen's most influential businessman, John Becker, was once a pond where residents ice skated in the winter.The grassy park includes a sand volleyball pit, basketball court, and historic gazebo.
Doodlebug Park features a restored Doodlebug rail car. The Doodlebug is known in Belen for shuttling Belen residents to Albuquerque during the first part of the 20th century. The Doodlebug at Doodlebug Park was restored by the production crew from the movie The Last Stand, which was filmed near the park, at the request of Lions Gate and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who starred in the film.
Belen also has Sen. Willie M. Chavez State Park, which is nestled next to the Rio Grande along Highway 309. Willie Chavez Park has walking trails, picnic grounds, and during special events, is open for camping. It is the site of Belen's annual ham radio operator event, as well as a fishing derby that takes place at the acequia, or irrigation canal, that runs through the park.
Other parks include El Corazon de Belen Garden Park, Jose Gallegos Park, Rosedale Park, Ross Park, and Welcome Park.
The Valencia County News-Bulletin is a weekly news publication covering all of Valencia County.
KBNM-LP is a radio station located in Belen. It plays oldies and other music throughout Valencia County.
Belen is within the Belen Consolidated Schools district, which includes two high schools: Belen High School and Infinity High School, one middle school and seven elementary schools. Belen Consolidated Schools also has an alternative high school and a family school for home schooled students.
Our Lady of Belen Catholic Church runs the private St. Mary's Catholic School, and Calvary Chapel Rio Grande Valley runs the private Canon Christian Academy.
Belen residents are served by the University of New Mexico Valencia Campus in Tome and the University of New Mexico's main campus in Albuquerque.
Belen's western boundary is Interstate 25. Belen is intersected by New Mexico Highway 314 and Highway 309.
Belen has Valencia County's only public airport. Belen Regional Airport is a regional general aviation airport. It primarily serves general aviation activity, including business activity from jet and multi-engine aircraft. Belen Regional Airport is used by flight instructors, skydivers, crop dusters and recreational pilots, among others. A number of aviation-related businesses are located at the airport.
Belen is intersected by the rails of the BNSF Railway, which has both east-west and north-south routes through the city. The New Mexico Rail Runner Express also has a commuter rail station at the north end of the BNSF rail yard, shuttling residents and tourists to and from Belen on a daily basis and connecting with Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
The BNSF Rail Yard in Belen serves as a major fuel point for the Southern Transcon.
New Mexico Bike Route 1 follows Reinken Avenue through Belen. The route connects Belen with Bernardo, which is south of Belen.
New Mexico is a state in the Southwestern United States; its capital is Santa Fe, which was founded in 1610 as capital of Nuevo México, while its largest city is Albuquerque with its accompanying metropolitan area. It is one of the Western, Southwestern, and Mountain States, and shares the Four Corners region with Utah, Colorado, and Arizona. New Mexico is also bordered by the state of Texas to the east-southeast, Oklahoma to the northeast, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua to the south and Sonora to the southwest. With an estimated population of 2,096,829 as of the July 1, 2019, U.S. Census Bureau estimate, New Mexico is the 36th largest state by population. With a total area of 121,590 sq mi (314,900 km2), it is the fifth-largest and sixth-least densely populated of the 50 states. Due to their geographic locations, northern and eastern New Mexico exhibit a colder, alpine climate, while western and southern New Mexico exhibit a warmer, arid climate.
Albuquerque, abbreviated as ABQ, is the most populous city in the U.S. state of New Mexico. The city's nicknames are The Duke City and Burque, both of which reference its 1706 founding by Nuevo México governor Francisco Cuervo y Valdés as La Villa de Alburquerque. Named in honor of then Viceroy the 10th Duke of Alburquerque, the Villa was an outpost on El Camino Real for the Tiquex and Hispano towns in the area. Since the city's founding, it has continued to be included on travel and trade routes including Santa Fe Railway (ATSF), Route 66, Interstate 25, Interstate 40, and the Albuquerque International Sunport. The 2019 census-estimated population of the city is 560,513, making Albuquerque the 32nd-most populous city in the United States and the fourth-largest in the Southwest. It is the principal city of the Albuquerque metropolitan area, which had 915,927 residents as of July 2018.
Winslow is a city in Navajo County, Arizona, United States. According to the 2010 census, the population of the city is 9,655. It is approximately 57 miles (92 km) southeast of Flagstaff, 240 miles (390 km) west of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and 329 miles (529 km) southeast of Las Vegas.
Hesperia is a city in San Bernardino County, California, United States. It is located 35 miles (56 km) north of downtown San Bernardino in Victor Valley and surrounded by the Mojave Desert. Because of its relatively high elevation and the unique and moderate weather patterns of the region, Hesperia is part of what is locally called the High Desert. The name "Hesperia" means "western land". The 2019 census report estimates that the city has a population of 95,750.
Newton is a city in and the county seat of Harvey County, Kansas, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 19,132. Newton is located 25 miles (40 km) north of Wichita. The city of North Newton is located immediately north and exists as a separate political entity. Newton is located at the intersection of Interstate 135, U.S. Route 50, and U.S. Route 81 highways.
Clovis is the county seat of Curry County, New Mexico, United States, with a population of 37,775 as of the 2010 census, and a 2019 estimated population of 38,319. Clovis is located in the New Mexico portion of the Llano Estacado, in the eastern part of the state.
Española is a city primarily in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, United States. A portion of the central and eastern section of the city is in Santa Fe County. Founded as a capital for Nuevo México in 1598 as San Juan de los Caballeros, it was renamed Española in 1880 when it became a railroad village; the city was officially incorporated in 1925. It has been called the first capital city in the United States. At the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 10,495. Española is within the Albuquerque–Santa Fe–Las Vegas combined statistical area.
The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, often referred to as the Santa Fe or AT&SF, was one of the larger railroads in the United States. The railroad was chartered in February 1859 to serve the cities of Atchison, Kansas, Topeka, Kansas, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. The railroad reached the Kansas–Colorado border in 1873 and Pueblo, Colorado, in 1876. To create a demand for its services, the railroad set up real estate offices and sold farmland from the land grants that it was awarded by Congress.
Ratón Pass is a 7,834 ft (2,388 m) elevation mountain pass on the Colorado–New Mexico border in the western United States. It is located on the eastern side of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains between Trinidad, Colorado and Raton, New Mexico, approximately 180 miles (290 km) northeast of Santa Fe. Ratón is Spanish for "mouse". The pass crosses the line of volcanic mesas that extends east from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains along the state line, and furnishes the most direct land route between the valley of the Arkansas River to the north and the upper valley of the Canadian River, leading toward Santa Fe, to the south. The pass now carries Interstate 25 and railroad tracks.
The Alvarado Transportation Center (ATC) is a multimodal transit hub located at 100 1st Street SW in Downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico. The complex was built as a hub for Albuquerque's regional transit system and as a replacement for Albuquerque's previous bus depot and train station. The center serves ABQ RIDE, Amtrak, Greyhound Lines, and the New Mexico Rail Runner Express commuter rail line.
The New Mexico Rail Runner Express is a commuter rail system serving the metropolitan areas of Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico. It is administered by the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) and the Rio Metro Regional Transit District, a regional transportation agency, while Herzog Transit Services currently holds the contract for the operation and maintenance of the line & equipment. Phase I of the system, operating on an existing right-of-way from Belen to Bernalillo that NMDOT purchased from BNSF Railway, opened in July 2006. Phase II, the extension of the line to Santa Fe, opened in December 2008. Daily ridership, as of February 2019, was 2,200 trips per day.
Santa Fe 2926 is a former Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (ATSF) class 2900 4-8-4 "Northern" type steam locomotive originally built in 1944 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works. This locomotive was part of the last group of steam passenger locomotives built for the Santa Fe railway. This class of locomotives were the heaviest 4-8-4's built in the United States and among the largest. The railroad used the locomotive in both fast freight and passenger service, accumulating over one million miles of usage before its last revenue run on December 24, 1953. The locomotive and a caboose were donated to the City of Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1956 in recognition of the city's 250th anniversary, and placed in Coronado Park.
Genízaros were detribalized Native Americans who, through war or payment of ransom, were taken into Hispano villages as indentured servants, shepherds, general laborers, etc., in New Mexico and southern Colorado. The prohibition on indigenous slavery in the Spanish Empire, implemented from 1543 onwards, excluded those Indians captured in the context of war. They were often convicted and required to work as indentured servants or slaves for varying periods of time. Genízaros were more typically indentured servants who had been enslaved by other Indian tribes and earned freedom through a period of servitude.
Las Trampas or just Trampas, is a small unincorporated town in Taos County, New Mexico. Founded in 1751, its center retains the original early Spanish colonial defensive layout from that time, as well as the 18th-century San José de Gracia Church, one of the finest surviving examples of Spanish Colonial church architecture in the United States. The village center was designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1967.
Belen is the southern terminus of the New Mexico Rail Runner Express commuter rail line, located in the center of the town of Belen, New Mexico, near the intersection of Reinken Avenue and Wisconsin Street. It serves residents of Belen and surrounding communities in Valencia County, New Mexico. The station began service on February 2, 2007, as the fifth station on the line.
The Albuquerque–Santa Fe–Las Vegas combined statistical area is made up of eight counties in north central New Mexico. The combined statistical area consists of the Albuquerque and Santa Fe metropolitan statistical areas, and the Las Vegas, Los Alamos, and Española micropolitan statistical areas. The 2013 delineations included the Grants micropolitan statistical area, but it was removed in the 2018 revisions. As of the 2010 census, the CSA had a population of 1,146,049. The population of the CSA is 1,178,664 as of the July 1, 2018 Census Bureau estimate. Roughly 56% of New Mexico's residents live in this area. Prior to the 2013 redefintions, the CSA consisted only of the Santa Fe metropolitan statistical area and the Española micropolitan statistical area. The total land area of the Albuquerque–Santa Fe–Las Vegas combined statistical area in the 2013 definition is 26,421 sq. mi.
The Albuquerque Metropolitan Statistical Area is a metropolitan area in central New Mexico centered on the city of Albuquerque comprising four counties: Bernalillo, Sandoval, Torrance, and Valencia. As of the 2010 United States Census, the MSA had a population of 887,077. The population is estimated to be 918,018 as of the July 1, 2019 Census estimate. The Albuquerque MSA forms a part of the larger Albuquerque–Santa Fe–Las Vegas combined statistical area.
The Southern Transcon is a main line of BNSF Railway comprising 11 subdivisions between Southern California and Chicago, Illinois. Completed in its current alignment in 1908 by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, when it opened the Belen Cutoff in New Mexico and bypassed the steep grades of Raton Pass, it now serves as a mostly double-tracked intermodal corridor.
Barelas is an inner-city neighborhood of Albuquerque, New Mexico, located immediately south of Downtown. It consists of the triangular area bounded by Coal Avenue, the BNSF railroad tracks, and the Rio Grande. Originally a separate village, it was absorbed into Albuquerque during the railroad-fueled growth of the 1880s but still retains a distinct identity. The settlement was formally established in 1662, predating even Old Town as the oldest neighborhood in the city. Although it was long one of Albuquerque's most economically distressed areas, Barelas has seen significant development since the opening of the National Hispanic Cultural Center in 2000 and may be starting to experience gentrification.
Slavery in New Mexico had varying legality and levels of enforcement until 1867, when the U.S. Congress banned slavery in the territories. Spain had introduced slavery to the area, Mexico tried to restrict it, as a U.S. territory it was made fully legal again until the Peonage Act of 1867 would officially abolish slavery in the U.S. Territory of New Mexico. During these years, however, black slavery was rare in New Mexico with most slaves being Native Americans. Today, it has been argued that slavery exists in the form of human trafficking.
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