What are some points for both sides of the Native American land debate?

Was it ok to take their land? Why? Should we give it back? Make them buy it back? Are their reservations enough? Should we take those too? (some sites and articles with good points would also be helpful)


I'm writing an issue paper for my high school government class. The topic was assigned and i need to represent both sides.

11 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Now that all the "Uneducated" have expressed their MYTHS promoted by ignorance, I'll give you some FACTS.

    The United States was not won by war/conquest. (Too many cowboy movies)

    It was stolen through "LEGISLATION". Which is even explained in grade school textbooks. It seems people can't understand what they are taught.

    Prior to the United States being established as a country, many Native American tribes were allies some in the northeast and in the southeast the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole.

    Once the United States declared independence and the Constitution adopted, the United States quickly established legislation to steal Native American lands.



    • TREATIES - Initially undertaken as peace agreements, became a means of extinguishing Indian title and opening lands for settlement.

    • INDIAN REMOVAL ACT (1830) - illegal removal of Indian tribes from their ancestral lands.

    • NONINTERCOURSE ACTS (1834) - reserved the right of only the United States to acquire Indian lands.

    • GENERAL ALLOTMENT ACT/DAWES ACT (1887) - divided lands into allotments, lands deemed as "SURPLUS" opened for settlement.

    • BURKE ACT (1906) - authorized allotments to be taken out of trust if the allottee was deemed "competent."

    • APPROPRIATION ACT (1907) - allowed unauthorized sale of allotments, for the "seller's benefit".

    • INDIAN REORGANIZATION ACT (1934) - extinguish traditional governments and established US sanctioned governments.

    • TERMINATION POLICY (1950/1960) - The government terminated a total of 109 reservations. Some 2.5 million acres opened for settlement, 3% of the total Indian population stripped of their identity.


    The United States Supreme Court first examined land issues in Johnson v. M'Intosh , 21 U.S. (8 Wheat) 543 (1823). Chief Justice Marshall concluded that the tribes held their lands by "Indian title." 'This gave the tribes the right to occupy the land and to retain possession of it. 21 U.S. (8 Wheat) at 574.

    Once the United States was organized and the Constitution adopted, these tribal rights to Indian lands became the exclusive province of the federal law. Indian title, recognized to be only a right of occupancy, was extinguishable by the United States.

    Indian Lands


    Indian reservation, (U.S.)




    MYTH - WE GAVE THEM LAND (reservations).

    The reservations were purchased by Native American tribes, even though the land belonged to Native Americans, the United States got the money. The United States then held the reservation lands "IN TRUST" preventing the tribes from actually owning the land. This was done to prevent Native Americans from selling the land to other nations during colonization. (such as Spain, France, etc.)


    The Choctaws the first Indians removed by the U.S. government. The Choctaws paid the cost of their own removal (as did all the tribes). In 1820 the Choctaws purchased from the United States what amounted to the southern half of the present day Oklahoma, an area that included the very heartland of the Comanche nation.

    When the Chickasaws became a part of the Choctaw nation, having been removed from their homeland, they chose homes among the Choctaws. In 1855, the Chickasaws became a separate nation, purchasing from the Choctaws what is today the central section of southern Oklahoma.





    in the Americas there were no large scale wars for the conquest of land. Native American Nations used "treaties" to establish agreement over Lands. Just as they did when the Europeans came.

    Did American Indians ever take land from other Indian tribes, for hunting or whatever reason?




    There were permanent settlements in the areas now called Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida even before the great pyramids were built in Egypt and before the Mayan culture arose in Central America.

    Were all the Native Americans nomads?



    MYTH - THE LAND IS OURS (The US Gov'ts and people)

    Indian Land Areas Judicially Established 1978





  • Amanda
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    Was it ok. No it wasnt, but it happened. "discovery" was a huge thing back when whites first stepped foot on the americas. all the countries from across the sea were in a race to discover new lands. And if these new lands were all ready occupied by somone and these occupants were not christians then the land that they were on was up for grabs.

    as to some of the postings: Natives never fought over lands before the whites came here. Land was not really that big of an issue. Yes tribes did fight with one another over some things but most tribes were able to resolve their issues with treaties.

  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    Because most Americans ARE ignorant. At least about other people's cultures. I research about other countries because i want to keep in touch with people outside my little bubble called America, and it's always a tad bit alarming when my classmates don't know/give a damn about whats going on in the world. Even when it comes to the little things, if i say anything about a good Japanese horror film i watched, almost all of them just scoff and tell me Americans can do everything better. Of course, not all Americans fit the ignorant stereotype, but people around the world aren't exactly wrong about us majority wise. They have a point.

  • Interesting question. We took their land by rite of war(be it wrong or right). We have had many wars, and given back countries. the difference here. We live here. Even the civil war, we took everything from the southerners and gave back little. It is the way of war and conquest. This is the reality of it.

    Now, lets look at the morality of it, which BTW, I support.

    Yes, the land is ours(The US Gov'ts and people..yes, I am white), by rite of conquest. However, we chose to allow them to live(if that's what it can be called) and gave them land to live on. Now this is systematically being taken away as well. Treaties broken, promises broken, lies and genocide.Give the land back? nice thought, but not practical. Honor the treaties and land grants made to ALL the Native nations, now this would be a good start.

    This is a very complicated issue, not to mention a deeply personal one for the Native Americans. THis kind of question could take years the really research, and I think it would be better served if you could look better at their point of view.

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  • 1 decade ago

    My perspective is that it was NOT okay to take our land. it was NOT okay to take away our cultures, traditions, languages and land.

    BUY IT BACK?! are you freakin kidding me?! my ancestors have lived here for hundreds of years, we lived PEACEFULLY without Alcohol, Drugs and Diseases. We had our own way of doing things. We were one with nature. And 'reservations' are total BS. I'm glad I don't live on one.

    The Europeans came over to Canada & the US, and took our home, and declared it their own. My family thankfully can still live our old ways and adapt to the modern times so I will not lose my culture. But Aboriginals around Canada and the US are not as lucky. And I personally find the term "Indian" offensive.

    Source(s): I'm Aboriginal. From Northern Canada.
  • Baxter
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    And lets not forget, it was not one big huge Native American tribe the land was taken from. It was multiple tribes which were at the same time fighting each other to take each others lands. It was not anything new to the Native Americans, they were doing it to each other for years and years before settlers came. People who think it was such a travesty are highly mistaken, but its the way things go, to the victor goes the spoils, but also the resentment.

  • 1 decade ago

    What's the debate? Every Native American tribe was at war with another tribe and actively seeking to take their land. I really don't get it. You must be in a liberal arts university.

  • CAL
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    The Indians don't deserve to get the land back. It was their fault it was lost in the first place. They are the ones who brought arrows and spears to a gun fight. Seriously, a million Aztecs got conquered by a few dozen Spaniards.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Native Americans fought and killed each other over land and other issues. They could not stop their in-fighting long enough to unite against their common enemy. Wikipedia "Tecumseh" for example.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    At the time America was settled, land was won through conquering. Giving land back to to everyone in the world that was "there" first is not an option.

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