As "Tuscarora Trails" author, Stephen Feeley put it, “the colonial period was a world in motion.” Mass migrations of Europeans came to American shores for the opportunity of cheap land, something that promised the average Englishman a chance to finally realize his dream. Africans came as well, mostly by no choice of their own, but still a burden on the already overwhelmed Indian. For the English, this mass migration began primarily with the Roanoke voyages. Also, interpretation of those events has been continuously misunderstood.
The science of anthropology has aided us greatly in recent years to better elucidate the misunderstandings and correct them. In the Mattamuskeet Documents by Garrow:
"It is evident from studying the data presented by Mook that the colonists were in contact with six chiefdoms not six tribes as has been traditionally stated. Haag (1958, 130) believed that those chiefdoms were rather recent creations at the time of the Roanoke Island settlement attempts, and that those groups were the products of earlier white contacts. Restudy of the available ethnographic accounts in light of the data developed by Haag's archaeological survey indicates that that was indeed the case."What is evident from this passage in Patrick Garrow’s “Historical Background” introduction to the Mattamuskeet Documents is that Native Americans have been misidentified, misrepresented, and generally misunderstood since first contact. That the Indian’s land was taken from him is not disputed. What must be considered, however, are the peripheral effects. Was that all that was taken from the Indian? Was he not demoted from the accepted level of civilization required by European thought?
Francis Jennings, in The Invasion of America, stated that the “constant of Indian inferiority implied the rejection of his humanity” (Jennings 1975, 59). Jennings spoke of a “constant,” implied perhaps to contemporaneous Native American events, but this idea holds true for modern views as well. Only recently have professional sports teams been demonstrating a greater respect for the Indian by discussing with respective nations, even offering a percentage of the profits from the use of their identity. Before this, however, the Indian was disregarded. Is this not dispossession as well? The identity was confiscated as most assuredly had been the land. Most certainly, the problem has been cultural. Europeans, like most of us, have no basis for comparison to Native Americans. Europeans and Indians lived for millennia in two unrelated parts of the globe. It would be unreasonable to expect a common definition that would encompass any aspect of their respective cultures, let alone understanding a concept like land ownership.
I began this project to describe the methodologies of Indian dispossession, fully believing that “dispossession” referred to taking away someone’s land and that was it. This impression quickly fell apart upon examination of the data. There exists more than one aspect to ownership, rights that go along with it. These can be viewed as hunting rights, mineral rights, water rights, fishing rights, intellectual rights, or any combination of these. This is by no means an exhaustive list.
Get it here:
- Copyright: Standard Copyright License
- Publisher:Baylus C. Brooks
- Published:November 4, 2011
- Pages: 90