Native americans and property rights

Jeff Davis (
Sat, 22 May 1999 16:28:19 -0700

Michael Lorrey wrote:

>The fact that every treaty that
>was signed between europeans and native tribes dealt with the disposition
of ownership of land
>indicates that they understood about real estate property rights.

To use any part of the history of european and native american relations as an element to support legal legitimacy or property rights, is more than a bit of a stretch.

We Americans have been brought up in a culture where public education uses the euphemism "western colonialism" to sanitize the historical record of the western European juggernaut of military conquest, subjugation, and mass murder.

The treaties of which you speak were drawn up by the europeans and employed to give documentary legitimacy to territorial acquistion accomplished through the use of superior military technology. The documents thus signed were little understood by the defeated parties and, in any event, were signed under conditions of the most extreme duress imaginable. These facts are more applicable to subjects such as corrupt historical scholorship, the brutality of realpolitik, and the morally perverse employment of legalistic instrumentalities, than to any discussion of legal legitimacy and property rights. Bad form that, at best.

(In the new Star Wars movie the evil-emperor-to-be tells his military proxies to proceed with the invasion. When challenged about the legality of this course of action he says, "I will make it legal." Whereupon he instructs the proxies to capture the queen and force her to sign a treaty.)

Best, Jeff Davis

	   "Everything's hard till you know how to do it."
					Ray Charles