ONE HUNDRED MILLION ACRES by Kirke & Karen Ducheneaux Kickingbird


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A case history of how Indian lands were confiscated through force, imposition of false debts, or demands for permanent agricultural settlement as a condition of property title, a first-rate factual study of not only the land theft but the American government's attempts to break down tribal organization. This pattern, very much like that of colonial powers in Africa and Asia, is documented without the dripping moralism and heroic strophes which characterize most Indian books today. A hundred million acres in the U.S. and Alaska is claimed by Indians; 80 million acres of it is currently in Indian title. The other 20 million is being litigated, and the authors describe how this land was lost. They also explain the shifts in government policy toward Indian land since the Northwest Ordinance, emphasizing the ruinous effect capitalist subdivision of land had on the traditional Indian lifestyle. The Allotment System resulted in minute land shares and impossible ownership tangles. A chart showing the subdivision of 320 South Dakota acres, for example, lists Helen White Bird as owner of a 3,124/115,755,091,200th of a plot. Alienation of the land and fishing rights of Flathead, Crow, Menominee, Klamath, Nisqually and Alaskan Indians by timber, power and oil companies and federal and local governments is detailed case by case, along with the subsequent poverty and tribal disintegration. Whether restoration of the full hundred million acres to Indian ownership will alleviate their miseries or atone for past wrongs is debatable but this is an extremely valuable contribution to the Red Power literature. The authors are co-founders of the Institute for Development of Indian Law.

Pub Date: May 24th, 1973
Publisher: Macmillan