The Differences Between European Settlers And American Settlers During The Nineteenth Century

The Differences Between European Settlers And American Settlers During The Nineteenth Century

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Indians had a different conceptions of property than European settlers had. Americans and their British colonial predecessors papered over their conquest with transactions called treaties. Whites always acquired Indian land within a legal framework of their own constructions. Law was always present, but so was power. The more powerful whites became relative to Indians, the more they were able to mold the legal system to produce outcomes in their favor, more sales, of larger tracts, at lower prices than would have existed had power relationships been more equal (Banner, 2005). According to Banner (2005) when Indians and whites were close to equally powerful, transactions in Indian land often increased the well-being of both sides. As time went on, the power relationship between the two sides became more lopsided, and transactions moved closer to the conquest end. From the seventeenth century through the twentieth century, Anglo-Americans consistently asserted sovereignty over American Indians without the Indians’ consent. By the late nineteenth century, there was little pretense that land cessions were voluntary in any meaningful sense of the word, even as they retained the form of negotiated treaties (Banner, 2005).
Treaty making with the United States began during the Revolutionary War of 1778 and ended in 1871. There are 367 treaties with undisputed status. The U.S. federal government tried to resolve its relationship with the various Native tribes by negotiating treaties. In each of hundreds of treaties that were negotiated, these were formal agreements between two sovereign nations. Native American people were citizens of their tribe, living within the boundaries of the US. The treaties were negotiated by the executive bra...


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...bal sovereignty" is fragmented into overlapping and contradictory rules premised on one foundation: the "plenary power" of the United States. Such "plenary power" is nowhere stated in the U.S. Constitution it is no more than a small nuisance that the judges have declared its existence. Administrative agencies and Congress alike grasp firmly to their judicially created prerogatives of total power over their "wards," in whose "trust" they act as they see fit. In 1934, the United States set out to "reorganize" indigenous peoples into elected corporate political structures, a formalized system of "tribal councils." The concept of "American Indian sovereignty" was used to justify sufficient authority in the "tribal councils" to maintain order within the "tribe" while denying these councils any authority beyond the territory which was "reserved" for them (d’Edrrico, 1997).

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