reply to post by jiggerj
Land as a shared resource
At the simplest level of personal property, American Indians owned what they made with their own two hands. But unlike Europeans, they did not
accumulate goods, and they freely shared tools and other useful possessions with friends and family who needed them.1 Other goods, such as beads and
trinkets, might serve as displays of a person’s rank or prowess, but they too were frequently traded or given away. While Indians had a definite
concept of personal property, then, they tended not to be as “possessive” about their possessions as Europeans.
Land rights were more complicated. A family might “own” the land on which its house stood, and women “owned” the land they farmed. But homes,
agricultural fields, and villages moved frequently, and so land was only “owned” as long as it was being used.
Villages collectively had rights to large territories that they used for hunting, fishing, and gathering of food, medicinal herbs, and raw materials
for building or tools. Those rights shifted depending on the use and the people using it. For most purposes, all of the people in a village shared the
use of its land. Among different villages, agreements about land use had to be made or defended. A village might claim exclusive hunting rights in a
given territory, for example, but people from many villages might share the use of a single river for fishing. What villages claimed was, as historian
William Cronon writes, “not the land but the things that were on the land during the various seasons of the year.
Land as property
European ideas about land and property differed from those of Indians in two important ways. First, under European law, land was a commodity that
could be bought and sold, and individuals who “owned” a tract of land had, for the most part, exclusive rights to its use. Second, ownership was
determined by formal means, recognized by deeds and contracts and enforced by courts of law. Faced with the casual, shifting, and complex arrangements
of America’s native peoples, Europeans took several approaches to obtaining land.
Of course, King Charles II initially granted the entire territory of “Carolana” to the eight Lords Proprietors, who were then free to dispense
with it as they saw fit. Prior to that, Amadas and Barlowe had claimed the Outer Banks in the name of Queen Elizabeth and Sir Walter Raleigh. The
English justified those claims, first, on the grounds that Charles, being a Christian monarch, had authority over a continent of heathen peoples.
They also argued, more specifically, that the Indians had failed to heed God’s command in Genesis to “subdue” the land. In Europe, hunting was
the sport of the wealthy, not a key source of food, and so to the European eye, the vast hunting grounds on which the Indians relied appeared
uninhabited and “unimproved.” The Indians, in other words, weren’t using the land; therefore it was up for grabs.
Interestingly, despite these arguments, the English frequently purchased land from Indians rather than seizing it outright, and colonial law
recognized Indian ownership of land. But the land deals and the courts that enforced them worked by European standards of land ownership that the
Indians didn’t share.
When they purchased land from Indians, Europeans understood the deal as a full transfer of rights. A man who purchased a tract of land was understood
to have the right to use it for any purpose, sell it to whom he wished, and to forbid trespassers. Indians, by contrast, did not typically see
themselves as signing away all rights to land. They may, for example, have understood a land sale to mean that the colonists could live on land in a
native village’s territory, but that all would continue to share hunting rights.
As far as taking captives from other tribes it was to replace deaths that had occurred, to replenish the numbers in the tribe affected, these people
were called slaves, but usually were adopted into the tribe, and treated the same as any one else within the tribe.. there was a period of
assimilating into the tribe, but after that they were simply a member.
wars or raids on other tribes were sometimes for much needed horses, or food in times when food was scarce, it was a tradition also to raid
neighboring villages, it appears they thought it was some fun to see if they could not get a horse or something. these traditions did not start until
after the introduction of the horse, which completely changed the north American Native way of life, when it went from what appears to be cities and
farming to a more nomadic way of life.
They were not always nomads, it is thought that when the horse was introduced by the Spanish disease from this contact killed millions of Native
American Indians. But some say that it was not this contact which caused the disease which killed so many. It was this loss of life, coupled with the
horse, that changed much for the Native American way of life in North America.
This is how I have been taught in University History classes. There are many books to read,
:_New_Revelations_of_the_Americas_Before_Columbus and "Indian Givers" although both those books deal with Native
Americans throughout the entire Americas, some estimate there was up to 100 million Native Americans before contact with Europeans, they lived in
cities and had a thriving culture... disease killed them first, then Europeans, then more disease, then almost extinction, but it is cool to learn,
because they had communal ideals, and were devoid of a materialistic nature.
They were not as evil and warring as many would like to make them out to be either, even when they changed to a more nomadic existence after the horse
edit on 13-4-2012 by Jameela because: (no reason given)
edit on 13-4-2012 by Jameela because: (no reason given)