Founding Fathers' attitudes toward Native Americans:
From the very beginning of US history, the founding fathers believe they are at a higher stage of Adam Smith's "four stages of history" than American Indians. George Washington favors treaties over force, writing that when forced off his land, the "savage," like the wolf, always seeks to return.
Johnson v. McIntosh determined that American Indian's land title could be extinguished "by purchase or by conquest."
February 28, 1823| In a land dispute, the Supreme Court determines that titles purchased from tribes do not supersede titles awarded by the federal government, because the indigenous occupants lost their "right of occupancy."
Chief Justice John Marshall's opinion calls American Indians "fierce savages," stating: "Discovery is the foundation of title, in European nations, and this overlooks all proprietary rights in the natives."
Even now, this "Doctrine of Discovery" continues to creep into the policies and mindset of today.
Chief Justice John Marshall composed several early and influential opinions on the relationship between American Indians and the United States.
Chief Justice John Marshall's majority opinion states that the tribe is not an independent nation, but a "domestic dependent nation" with a relationship to the United States "like that of a ward to his guardian." This ward-guardian mindset has carried into modern-day American Indian-US relations.
Congress passes the General Allotment Act, authorizing the president to divide up tribal land and parcel it out to individual American Indians. In the process, tribes are dispossessed of 90 million acres.
Meanwhile, American Indian children are forced to assimilate at mandatory boarding schools. (And Indian Adoption Programs would also begin)
Col. Richard Pratt, founder of the first off-reservation Indian Boarding School, gives a speech in 1892 where he adovcates to "kill the Indian in him, and save the man."
(Videos: UAF Tribal Management Program)
In this video, American Indian scholar and advocate Ada Deer calls the terminations a "cultural, economic and political disaster" for American Indians.
Congress terminates tribal status for more than 100 tribes in the 1950s. When tribes lose their status, their lands become subject to taxation and members lose access to federal programs and services. The government further weakens tribes by relocating American Indians from reservations to cities and expanding state jurisdiction over reservations.
TRIBAL NATIONS - The Story of Federal Indian Law
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