Indigenous tribes have lost 99% of their land in the United States


A recent study estimates that Indigenous peoples in the United States “have lost almost 99% of the land they historically occupied.”

The dataset – the first to quantify land dispossession and forced migration in the United States – also reveals that tribes owning land today were systematically forced to settle in less valuable areas, which shut them out of key sectors of the US economy, including the energy market. The negative effects continue to this day: modern Indigenous lands are more at risk from climate change, especially extreme heat and reduced rainfall.

What is different about this study, says Deondre Smiles, geographer and citizen of the Leech Lake Ojibwe Band, is the quantification of land dispossession:

Indigenous peoples have always understood the devastating effects of these policies, Smiles says. But most of their stories existed only in qualitative historical records, including hundreds of treatises or oral histories. “The denial you get in academia is that qualitative narratives aren’t robust. [Scientists often ask,] ‘Where is the data? Where is the hard science? Says Smiles. “It’s right here, in this article.”

See also A new online archive of 374 treaties between Indigenous peoples and the United States and these maps of Indigenous lands. (thanks, mega)

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