How the Indians Lost Their Land

How the Indians Lost Their Land

Law and Power on the Frontier

Book - 2005
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Between the early seventeenth century and the early twentieth,nearly all the land in the United States was transferred from AmericanIndians to whites. This dramatic transformation has been understood in two very different ways--as a series of consensual transactions, but also as a process of violent conquest. Both views cannot be correct. How did Indians actually lose their land?

Stuart Banner provides the first comprehensive answer. He argues that neither simple coercion nor simple consent reflects the complicated legal history of land transfers. Instead, time, place, and the balance of power between Indians and settlers decided the outcome of land struggles. As whites' power grew, they were able to establish the legal institutions and the rules by which land transactions would be made and enforced.

This story of America's colonization remains a story of power, but a more complex kind of power than historians have acknowledged. It is a story in which military force was less important than the power to shape the legal framework within which land would be owned. As a result, white Americans--from eastern cities to the western frontiers--could believe they were buying land from the Indians the same way they bought land from one another. How the Indians Lost Their Land dramatically reveals how subtle changes in the law can determine the fate of a nation, and our understanding of the past.

Publisher: Cambridge, MA : Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2005
ISBN: 9780674018716
Characteristics: 344 p. : ill. ; 24 cm


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Jan 23, 2014

(3 stars for Evil!) This is a great book! No, not because it is a misinformational, disinformational, revisionistic pile of flotsam, meant to mislead one and all, but because it is the perfect example of how crime is committed at the highest levels, over the longest periods. As the Library Journal reviewer, John Burch, perfectly articulates: " It merely means that the constantly evolving definition of what was legal was determined by the laws first of England, and later the United States." In other words, treaties were made, then laws passed making it "legal" to break these treaties, and other malevolent legal machinations to steal and swindle, the sine quo non of capitalism. Over the last several decades, plans were made at JPMorgan, then JPMorgan Chase, consulting with the Group of Thirty, and then putting together lobbyist consortiums of Wall Street firms, to get the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act passed, then several other pieces of legislation (GLB Act, CFMA, et cetera), allowing for Grand Theft Global, also known as the global economic meltdown. A perfect simile to how native Americans had their lands stolen.


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