13 November 2012

Land Grab from the Indians

Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen, 1995, Excerpts

The never-ending source of dispute was land. To explain this constant conflict, half of the textbooks examined rely on the cliché that Native Americans held some pre-modern understanding of land ownership. Not one pointed out that the Dutch paid the wrong tribe for Manhattan. Europeans were forever paying the wrong tribe or paying a small faction within a much larger nation. Often they didn’t really care; they merely sought justification for theft. Such fraudulent transactions might even have worked in their favor, for they frequently set one tribe or faction against another.

The biggest single purchase from the wrong tribe took place in 1803. All the textbooks tell how Jefferson doubled the size of the United States by buying Louisiana from France. Not one textbook points out that it was not France’s land to sell – it was Indian land. The French never consulted with the Native owners before selling; most Native Americans never even knew of the sale. Indeed, France did not really sell Louisiana for $15,000,000. France merely sold its claim to the territory. To treat France as the seller, as all our textbooks do, is Eurocentric.


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