How the Indians Lost Their Land: Law and Power on the Frontier

How the Indians Lost Their Land: Law and Power on the Frontier

by Stuart Banner
ISBN-10:
067402396X
ISBN-13:
9780674023963
Pub. Date:
04/30/2007
Publisher:
Harvard

Paperback

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Overview

How the Indians Lost Their Land: Law and Power on the Frontier

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674023963
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 04/30/2007
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

Table of Contents

Contents

Introduction

1. Native Proprietors

2. Manhattan for Twenty-four Dollars

3. From Contract to Treaty

4. A Revolution in Land Policy

5. From Ownership to Occupancy

6. Removal

7. Reservations

8. Allotment

Epilogue

Notes

Acknowledgments

Index

What People are Saying About This

In a subtle and sometimes startling reinterpretation of 18th and 19th century North American land transfers, Stuart Banner shows how relentlessly expansionary colonial powers met active and savvy Indians who worked to protect their interests as best they could. In the end, it was the English and American power to declare what was lawful that transformed power into right and facilitated increasingly involuntary land transfers at extraordinarily low prices, leaving the Indians worse off than before and bereft of a continent.

Daniel K. Richter

In deceptively simple prose, Stuart Banner lays out the complexities and contradictions of the long history of how Anglo-Americans justified the dispossession of Native Americans. His even-handed exploration of the moral gymnastics necessary for lawyers, politicians, and writers to make expropriation seem logical and Native participation voluntary breathes new life into the old saying about the pen proving mightier than the sword.
Daniel K. Richter, author of Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America

Joseph William Singer

In a subtle and sometimes startling reinterpretation of 18th and 19th century North American land transfers, Stuart Banner shows how relentlessly expansionary colonial powers met active and savvy Indians who worked to protect their interests as best they could. In the end, it was the English and American power to declare what was lawful that transformed power into right and facilitated increasingly involuntary land transfers at extraordinarily low prices, leaving the Indians worse off than before and bereft of a continent.
Joseph William Singer, Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

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