How Much Land Was Stolen from American Indian Tribes?
How Much Land Was Stolen from American Indian Tribes? November 2022
Until the arrival of the first European settlers in North America, the continent, from North to South and East to West, belonged to the many native American tribes that had lived there for thousands of years, ever since time immemorial. From 1620 onwards, the Natives were slowly pushed off their lands to make way for foreign immigrants. The speed of this dispossession increased with time and it is estimated that between 1776 till today the United States has taken about 1.5 billionacres of land from Native Americans. That is an area larger than France and Germany combined. How this happened is today well-known with names like the Trail of Tears and Wounded Knee familiar to all Americans, although these tragic eventstell only a fraction of the whole story.
A World Power Built on Stolen Land
There are no nations or people in the world that do not have dark chapters in their history. In the case of the U.S., it is the treatment of Native Americans that is one of the biggest causes of shame.By the mid-18th century(1750), 258 years after the establishment of a Spanish fort in 1492 on the Island of Hispanola (today’s Haiti and Dominican Republic), and 143 years after the establishment of the English Jamestowncolony in 1607, Native Americans stillcomprisedthe largest ethnic groups in the country. Although the decline in their numbers had begun, even by the late-18th,century, the Native Americans were still in possession of most of the Western part of North America. Theforced occupation of Tribal lands increased and by the end of the 19th century, the Native Americans had lost much of their way of life and most of their lands. The word massacre is used to describe many of the “battles” that the federal government fought with the Tribes because of the huge number of Native Americans who were killed. The reduction of the Native population made it easier to occupy the stolen lands.After the Civil War, the U.S. started its journey towards becoming a world power and then a global superpower. What fueled this growth wasthe abundant natural resources that the continent possessed. Resources that had been illegally taken from the Native American Tribes.
Remember the Past or It Will Be Repeated
The great philosopher George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” America today cannot turn back the clock, but should think about returning some ofthe stolen lands to tribes, especially, those tribes that remain landless, such as the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe. This is potentially a practical possibility;however, it will take the legislative prower of the Congress to restore some of these stolen lands to their original ownersFurthermore, an acknowledgment of the amount of land that the tribes lost along withlegal measures to restore the full and sovereign ownership of the lands in their possession today and measures to protect their culture and history, will be a starting point in ensuring that history is not repeated and that justice is finallygiven to the original inhabitants of this country. The Muwekma Ohlone Tribe who inhabit the San Francisco Bay Area have contributed greatly to the growth of America. The battle is now on for restoring the homeland to the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe and other Native American Tribes who are demanding a return of what is rightfully theirs.