Posted by Tom on July 09, 1998 at 20:54:48:
In Reply to: Re: history and speculations posted by Rich on July 09, 1998 at 17:26:27:
: >> At one point the Lakotas, whose seven bands could not have exceeded a population of 50,000, laid claim to most of the Dakotas and large parts several other states. You know as well as I do that those states are still sparsely populated even with their populations running into the tens of millions and that they are a breadbasket that feeds untold millions throughout the world. Yet the claim of 50,000 people to that vast region for the sole use as a private hunting preserve with trespassers facing death or worse does not strike you as a tad greedy? <<
: This was the basis of much of the notion that argued for taking, or swindling, treatifying (Yes, it's a word! At least in the Rich Fed World Dictionary :) ), or blatantly stealing land from Indian nations. Think about it! We own 16 acres. Much of it is lived on, grazed, or tilled, but we have 5 acres or so in woods, just sitting. We DON'T use them. One of my neighbors, let's say, feels that's a terrible waste - greedy, in fact - so he cuts down a couple of acres of trees and builds a house on my land. Anybody think that's OK? Sure, in the example above, we're talking about a vast tract of land inhabited by a relative handful of people. Their nomadic, hunting lifestyle, however, DEMANDED such spaciousness, ESPECIALLY after pressure, and slaughter, from encroaching "civilization" began to drastically decrease the amount of available game. Still another point, today, the 3rd largest state in the union, Montana, has what, less than a million people living in it? Somebody must own some awfully large parcels of land out there. Is it OK if I decide to just go squat out there and start a homestead? It comes down to two distinctly different world views coming in contact. The more powerful side wins out. Perhaps this IS how history, throughout the world, has played out, but, it is wrong to lie, cheat, murder, pillage, DEMEAN ... in order to get your way. THAT IS what happened here. And it happened at a point in our civilized progress, that we should have known better. We DID know better. Remember the Peace Policy? I could go on, and on, and on ... but that's the basics of my viewpoint on the "land grab" issue. Except for one thing ... what was the excuse back east, where there wasn't quite so much open land? Maifest Destiny was a powerful force!
I knew my "greedy" statement would raise some hackles. As I said from my own moral perspective I cannot defend how the US government treated the American Indian. But the Dakotas, Montana, and Nebraska is a huge amount of territory and the claim of 20-50,000 people to all of it is downright "selfish" no matter what period you are living in. There should have been enough land for all but it did not work out that way.
I have noticed that no one seems too disturbed that the Lakotas "stole" this land from other tribes in the first place. Its only when Europeans conquer the former conquerors that seems to get the beating of the breasts for the dispossed. Where is the moral outrage for the tribes who lost these lands to a rapacious invader? Should the Indians be excused for every outrage they committed against each other because they were all eventually treated so horribly by the whiteman? Or should they be excused since "they didn't know any better?" Or is it just sentimental hypocrisy that makes people turn a blind-eye to savagery and ruthlessness of one race in order to completely condemn the savergey and ruthless of another race? In our past it was always the Americans who received the benefit of that skewered look at history; today the arguement has been reversed but it is still a skewered viewpoint.
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