Posted by Elaine/Mohican Press on July 09, 1998 at 22:59:40:
In Reply to: Re: history and speculations posted by Tom on July 09, 1998 at 20:54:48:
Though I think it true that many overlook the "wrongs" of one people while focusing on the "wrongs" of another, it is not accurate to say "no one" is disturbed by the Lakotas' conquest of land belonging to others. They did dispossess people, as did other Indian tribes, as did Europeans, as did Asians, as did Africans, etc...... That is human history. Nothing new. Heck! I'm still pissed off at the Iroquois for taking Algonquian land! Having said that...
Regarding conquest as a wrong or within a moral context; I don't get too upset over it WHEN it occurred openly, honestly. Conquest, no matter how distasteful to the 20th century mind, was the way of the world. Always. Everywhere. However, when a particular nation bases her actions and principles on a written law, she is then bound by that law and must act accordingly. That is where the US
is open to criticism. Once the US Govt. entered into a treaty with another nation, she was, by her own self professed code of law, bound to honor and uphold the agreement. When she did not honor any given treaty, she was acting illegally. That is theft. That is deceit and the US Govt. can be held responsible for her trespasses, just as any citizen can be. I wouldn't use civilization as a measure for behavior as it has nothing to do with morality (ponder Rome), but everything to do with human progress. Perhaps the distinction I see between "open conquest" and "treacherous acquisition" appears to be nothing more than semantics, but I see them as great differencess. If there is irony, it is that all lands seized illegally by the US Govt. are open to a legal challenge and possible repossesion while lands taken through openly hostile means can not be touched. (Though possession remains 9/10ths of the law.)
Regarding greed; here one must part from fact and rely upon opinion. The definition of greedy is "excessively eager for acquisition or gain" - greed: "selfish and grasping desire for ..." The key words are excessive and selfish. Who can judge? Was the Dakota Territory too much land for a nomadic people with huge horse herds? Were they selfish? Maybe they were, maybe they weren't. It can be argued either way. Is 16 acres too much land for a sedentary family? Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. Again, it can be argued either way. (Though I obviously think it is not excessive.) The clash really was founded upon differing viewpoints on land usage, supplemented by a need to justify seizure. Why is alledged greed an issue here anyway? State acquisition of privately owned land on the basis of "excessive wealth and/or property" is a tenet of communism and has no place in a democratic republic.
Though I agree with you when you observe that MANY people approach the issue of conquest in a sentimental and even hypocritical manner, and offensively group all Indian people together, ignoring the differing religions, languages, cultures, etc., this is by no means true of everyone.
And these "issues" are all at the heart of James Fenimore Cooper's "Leatherstocking Tales"!
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