Daegan Miller’s This Radical Land is said to be “an outstanding literary achievement”; however, that can’t be true since it is based upon a whopper. The reader is told, “we are reminded of the true origin story of the American landscape: we all live on land stolen from Native people.”
Afraid not. That is fake history to make snowflakes feel good.
Another writer referred to white men who “took over their [Indian] world,” but where did he get the idea that this world (America) belonged to the Indians? There is an abundance of evidence that today’s Indians replaced another group altogether. How far back must we go to be highly principled—doing the right thing?
However, let’s assume the commonly held belief that the Indians were the original occupiers and “owners” of the land until we choose, at another time, to get into the almost unknown, undesirable, and unpleasant details of prior ownership.
Merely living on the land does not confirm ownership. This issue is the most important factor in the discussion. Riding on horseback across land does not confer or confirm ownership. The land is “owned” when occupied by families in homes and is controlled, defended, tilled, and fenced.
After expulsion from the Garden, God told Adam and Eve that in the future, they and all ancestors would have to live by the sweat of their brow. God was saying, Adam, this is your new home, and as punishment, you will live by the sweat of your brow to produce food to keep your family alive. You will have to fight the bugs, beetles, briers, and brambles until you return to the ground from which you were taken.
Englishman John Locke lived in the 17th century and agreed with God. Locke is known as the “Father of Liberalism,” who greatly influenced the French and American Revolutionary leaders. He argued in the late 1600s in his Second Treatise of Government that God gave the earth for man’s common good, but land can only be “owned” when a man’s labor, which obviously belongs only to him, is mixed with the land to improve it. That would be removing stones, swamps, trees, and other obstacles. It would involve building a home or other structures on it. The land would be his when he tills the ground, plants seed, and brings in a harvest.
Locke taught that each person has property in his own person—that is, each person literally owns his own body. With that body, he can acquire or own property by using his body to improve the land. That means a man purchases land not with silver but with the sweat of his brow.
With that accomplished, the land is his. He has put himself into the land. He has removed it from common property and made it his by working it with his own hands.
Locke lived when the king claimed a divine right to rule everything and everyone, and the king owned everything. The land was held by tenants who used the land and served in the king’s army when needed. The tenants had sub-tenants who actually worked the land, but the king owned everything.
After 1492, Spain and Portugal started making outrageous ownership claims throughout the Western Hemisphere. They claimed vast territory that they had not seen and had no plans on settling. Pope Alexander VI stepped into the morass, hoping to untangle the knots by dividing the hemisphere between Spain and Portugal. Of course, Alex had no authority to deal with international and national land claims. Unless a nation built a substantial permanent settlement on the land they claimed and were willing and able to defend it, a claim meant little to nothing.
On the North American continent, the various Indian tribes made the same bogus claim as European kings about owning the land.
The same principle of land ownership applicable to our world would also apply to the Moon or Mars. Who can claim ownership of either? The first nation that landed on the Moon was America, followed by Russia and Japan; however, landing there could not justify ownership. However incredible it was, only a fool would suggest that success could qualify as ownership.
If a nation lands on the Moon, it must explore the land, erect buildings, build streets, water systems, power stations, and produce breathable oxygen from the soil and rocks since there is no breathable atmosphere. Oxygen on the Moon is abundant, but it is very difficult to become usable to men. There is more than 40 percent oxygen on the Moon’s mass, but the soil and rocks must be heated, thereby forcing oxygen to emerge so it can be useful to humans. Various scientific entities are looking at different ways for extracting oxygen from Moon rock, so researchers are examining potentially cheaper ways to produce oxygen on the Moon.
NASA scientists have many ideas about how to extract it. Simply heating lunar soil to a very high temperature causes gaseous oxygen to emerge. Or, they can collect the rocks and “either treat it with chemicals or blast it with heat, and you can free up unlimited quantities of oxygen both for breathing and for rocket fuel.”
The first nation to make the Moon livable can claim “ownership” to that portion of it.
The Indian tribes who fought for “ownership” of the land could not legitimately claim ownership only because they rode across the land on horseback or claimed to have been the first men to occupy the land. Furthermore, they believed if any land was not used or occupied for a year or more, anyone could claim it. War between Indian tribes was almost constant because they believed that the stronger tribe had a natural right to subdue the weaker ones. Fighting was a way of life for Indians. They kept resisting the Whites because to admit Whites were stronger was to admit the white man’s right to occupy the land the Indians had traditionally used.
Unquestionably, the Indian/White conflict about land is a mixed bag. There was a clash of cultures and disagreements as to right and wrong. Moreover, there were many failures and massacres on both sides, with numerous treaties made and broken by each group. Fools and bigots claim that it was the Indians’ fault, while others declare it all the fault of Whites.
According to Indian law, the white men owned the land because they were stronger and could hold it by force. Of course, white men were not bound by Indian law, but they are bound by discovering (or claiming) land, removing the stones, trees, and debris, building homes, barns, and corrals, farming and fencing it.
Early Americans “bought” the land by their own sweat. They didn’t steal it from anyone.
Dr. Don Boys
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