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Colorado's Foundations Built on Expropriated Tribal Lands Worth $1.7 Trillion


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A recent report published by a Native American-led nonprofit sheds light on the extensive dispossession of Indigenous homelands in Colorado, estimating the value of the expropriated land at $1.7 trillion. Additionally, the state has reaped over $546 million from mineral extraction on these lands. The report, first shared with The Associated Press, details the forcible acquisition of lands from ten tribal nations that held various titles to lands within Colorado and the ways in which these acquisitions violated treaty rights or lacked legal transfers.

 

Dallin Maybee, an artist, legal scholar, and enrolled member of the Northern Arapaho Tribe, who contributed to the report, emphasized the blatant nature of this land theft. He pointed out that after the removal of Indigenous peoples, the land was divided and sold to non-Natives and businesses. "When you think about examples of land theft, that is one of the most blatant instances that we could see," Maybee stated.

 

The Truth, Restoration, and Education Commission, convened by the nonprofit People of the Sacred Land, compiled the report. This commission aims to document the history of Indigenous displacement in Colorado and follows a model similar to other truth and reconciliation commissions worldwide that address the impacts of genocide and colonial policies.

 

The report also proposes several recommendations for the state, federal government, and Congress, including honoring treaty rights by resolving illegal land transfers, compensating affected tribal nations, restoring hunting and fishing rights, and imposing a 0.1% fee on real estate transactions in Colorado. This fee would help mitigate the lasting effects of forced displacement, genocide, and other historical injustices. Maybee emphasized the importance of moving beyond acknowledgment to action, suggesting that fulfilling treaty promises concerning health, welfare, and education would be a significant step forward.

 

Drawing parallels with Canada, Maybee highlighted how the Canadian government allocated $4.7 billion to support Indigenous communities affected by its Indian residential schools following a truth and reconciliation commission in 2015. Although the U.S. currently lacks a similar commission, a bill co-sponsored by Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) and Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kan.) aims to establish a commission to research the long-term effects of the Indian boarding school system in the U.S. This measure recently passed the House Education and Workforce Committee with bipartisan support.

 

Ben Barnes, chief of the Shawnee Tribe, who testified before Congress in support of the commission, underscored the need for reconciliation and healing for generations affected by the trauma of these policies. "The next step is reconciliation and healing for the generations who’ve dealt with the trauma that followed, which begins with establishing the Truth and Healing Commission to investigate further," Barnes said.

 

The 771-page report also calls on Colorado State University to return 19,000 acres of land taken from several tribal nations through the Morrill Act of 1862, which used expropriated land to create land grant universities. In 2023, the university pledged $500,000 from its land grant earnings to benefit Native American faculty, staff, and students. However, the commission questioned the adequacy of this gesture, given the vast resources generated by the endowment from selling or leasing stolen land.

 

A university spokesperson noted that the school had not yet reviewed the report but affirmed that the revenue from the endowment fund benefits Native American faculty, staff, and students.

 

The report also highlighted disparities in education, revealing that Native American students in Colorado have lower high school graduation rates and higher dropout rates than any other racial demographic. It called for the Colorado Department of Education to increase curriculum content focusing on the histories, languages, and modern cultures of Indigenous peoples. Currently, Native American issues are taught only once in elementary school and again in high school U.S. history classes.

 

The education department expressed its commitment to honoring Indigenous communities, noting the development of a culturally affirming fourth-grade curriculum focused on Ute history. However, this program is not mandatory across Colorado, where curriculum decisions are made locally. A 2019 study found that 87% of public schools in the U.S. fail to teach about Indigenous peoples in a post-1900 context, and most states do not mention them in their K-12 curriculum.

 

Richard Little Bear, former president of Chief Dull Knife College and a member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, stressed the importance of integrating Indigenous history and culture into the curriculum, especially in areas with high Native American populations. "There’s gotta be a full-scale effort," Little Bear said.

 

The report from People of the Sacred Land is a crucial step in acknowledging and addressing the historical and ongoing injustices faced by Indigenous communities in Colorado. By shedding light on the extensive land dispossession and its lasting impacts, the report calls for concrete actions to rectify these wrongs and support the healing and restoration of Indigenous peoples.

 

Credit: ABC News 2024-06-17

 

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9 minutes ago, transam said:

It is the Indian's country, taken over by force...

What the Indians did before is of no concern to you or me, it is their land...🤗

But which indian tribe? Should every conqueror give back what has been taken in the past?

Edited by giddyup
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5 minutes ago, transam said:

Dunno, but my country at one time had lot's of Kings, China had their own set-up too...🤗

I guess all the royal family land in the UK belonged to someone else once, fat chance of that ever being returned to the original owners.

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White people broke every agreement they had with various tribes across North America. Thus, compensation should go to the tribes they had agreements with.

The theory that god had given them a right to the land was called Manifest Destiny. Similar to the "Promised Land" being a god-given right to the land of Judea.

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While I recognize that there were true injustice and suffering that occurred back in the day, I don't support this whole notion of reparations in the present day.  Firstly, the people who truly suffered are long gone....as well as the perpetrators.  Even if the government could afford to give back something, who will they give it to?  It's like asking present day Japanese to be held liable for Pearl Harbor.  While there's certain measures that could be taken to help the disadvantage, some things just can't be undone.  What these activists want...it's just not going to happen.

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Yes, Europeans killed plenty of native Americans. And previous to arrival of Europeans, they also killed each other, just like every other culture on earth.

The major killer was disease, wiping out about 90% of the natives. NINETY percent! When the settlers got to the great plains, they thought it was empty, like other sites. Empty because natives had mostly died out.

"Following Christopher Columbus' arrival in North America in 1492, violence and disease killed 90% of the indigenous population — nearly 55 million people — according to a study published this year." https://www.businessinsider.com/climate-changed-after-europeans-killed-indigenous-americans-2019-2

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1 hour ago, spidermike007 said:

The US has a long history of atrocious behavior towards Native Americans. First they killed most of them off, then they stole their lands, gave them disease, and then they gave them rotten deals. Some were fortunate to get good reservation land. A few have reaped great fortune with the casinos. But, not many.

 

I am sure MAGA supporters, and white supremacists will be all over this.

I support Trump and I think the land should be handed back if it was in a treaty- so you are wrong on that.

 

However, it's likely that you are living on land that was stolen from someone in the past.

Much of the land in the UK was stolen by many invaders, lastly by the Normans.

 

Britain stole Diego Garcia from the owners to lend to the US for a military base. The US are still there and the legal owners are not.

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54 minutes ago, Berkshire said:

While I recognize that there were true injustice and suffering that occurred back in the day, I don't support this whole notion of reparations in the present day.  Firstly, the people who truly suffered are long gone....as well as the perpetrators.  Even if the government could afford to give back something, who will they give it to?  It's like asking present day Japanese to be held liable for Pearl Harbor.  While there's certain measures that could be taken to help the disadvantage, some things just can't be undone.  What these activists want...it's just not going to happen.

If there is a legal agreement between the native Americans and the US government, then that agreement stands. Shall we disregard the US constitution because it was written a couple hundred years ago?

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1 hour ago, giddyup said:

I guess all the royal family land in the UK belonged to someone else once, fat chance of that ever being returned to the original owners.

The UK had many Kings at the same time in different areas, didn't the Romans put an end to all that for 500 years, till the buggerd off, then back to a bit of normality..😋

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1 hour ago, Hanaguma said:

There is no such thing as "the Indians". How racist and over simplistic of you!

 

There were myriad tribes all fighting and killing each other. Much like everywhere else in the world before the modern advent of nation states.  

Until the Europeans killed them off, you mean, let's be clear about that, no excuses now.............🤔

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21 minutes ago, thaibeachlovers said:

If there is a legal agreement between the native Americans and the US government, then that agreement stands. Shall we disregard the US constitution because it was written a couple hundred years ago?

Believe what you want.  I'm just saying it's not going to happen. 

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1 hour ago, Hanaguma said:

There is no such thing as "the Indians". How racist and over simplistic of you!

There also no such thing as "American Indians" as they were never citizens of America. In fact prior to 1777 there was no America. They might more correctly be called "indigenous natives" but that doesn't carry as much excuse for discrimination. 

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2 hours ago, Hanaguma said:

There is no such thing as "the Indians". How racist and over simplistic of you!

 

There were myriad tribes all fighting and killing each other. Much like everywhere else in the world before the modern advent of nation states.  

Well, if you ignore history, then your argument may hold true. But, for those of us who are students of history, there is a good reason why Native Americans are called Indians. It does not matter if the area was called America or not, centuries ago. Even my Mexican friends argue that the term America is not valid, since they live in North America, and are also therefore "American".

 

The natives lived there since the Clovis people crossed over the land bridge, some 12,000 to 20,000 years ago, depending on which version of history you believe in. 

 

A couple of years ago, Becerra-Valdivia and colleagues developed a model that integrated data from 42 different archeological sites in North America and Beringia with emerging evidence from ancient DNA, and found support for the idea that people were indeed in the Americas 26,500–19,000 years ago.

 

https://www.the-scientist.com/new-evidence-complicates-the-story-of-the-peopling-of-the-americas-69928#:~:text=For decades%2C scientists subscribed to,recede%2C about 13%2C000 years ago

 

The term Indian is an import from European languages, originating in North America in the 15th century. It is commonly understood that when Christopher Columbus set off west from Europe, he was attempting to land in India, on the Asian continent. Consequently, when Columbus landed in the Caribbean, he assumed it was “…Islands of India beyond the Ganges”. Hence, Columbus and the Portuguese colonists called the indigenous inhabitants “indeos” – the Portuguese for what we call in English “Indians.” It was the term that was to remain in use in western culture to the present.

Edited by spidermike007
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37 minutes ago, spidermike007 said:

Well, if you ignore history, then your argument may hold true. But, for those of us who are students of history, there is a good reason why Native Americans are called Indians. It does not matter if the area was called America or not, centuries ago. Even my Mexican friends argue that the term America is not valid, since they live in North America, and are also therefore "American".

 

The natives lived there since the Clovis people crossed over the land bridge, some 12,000 to 20,000 years ago, depending on which version of history you believe in. 

 

A couple of years ago, Becerra-Valdivia and colleagues developed a model that integrated data from 42 different archeological sites in North America and Beringia with emerging evidence from ancient DNA, and found support for the idea that people were indeed in the Americas 26,500–19,000 years ago.

 

https://www.the-scientist.com/new-evidence-complicates-the-story-of-the-peopling-of-the-americas-69928#:~:text=For decades%2C scientists subscribed to,recede%2C about 13%2C000 years ago

 

The term Indian is an import from European languages, originating in North America in the 15th century. It is commonly understood that when Christopher Columbus set off west from Europe, he was attempting to land in India, on the Asian continent. Consequently, when Columbus landed in the Caribbean, he assumed it was “…Islands of India beyond the Ganges”. Hence, Columbus and the Portuguese colonists called the indigenous inhabitants “indeos” – the Portuguese for what we call in English “Indians.” It was the term that was to remain in use in western culture to the present.

Thank you for the much needed etymology lesson.  

 

My point was different, as I suspect you know. I was stating that "the Indians" were not a cultural or political entity in pre-discovery North America.It was a fragmented, warring, tribal, brutal era. 

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1 hour ago, transam said:

Until the Europeans killed them off, you mean, let's be clear about that, no excuses now.............🤔

Untrue. Most died from diseases and sicknesses that they did not have immunity to. They weren't "killed off", which implies a genocidal intention on the part of "the Europeans".  

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2 minutes ago, Hanaguma said:

Thank you for the much needed etymology lesson.  

 

My point was different, as I suspect you know. I was stating that "the Indians" were not a cultural or political entity in pre-discovery North America.It was a fragmented, warring, tribal, brutal era. 

So was the UK, and those Vikings were a real pain in the ass interfering..........😂

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1 minute ago, Hanaguma said:

Untrue. Most died from diseases and sicknesses that they did not have immunity to. They weren't "killed off", which implies a genocidal intention on the part of "the Europeans".  

🤣...........I can't believe your wrote that..............🤣

When you get up there, 😇, have a word with Custer about all that...............😝

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2 hours ago, transam said:

🤣...........I can't believe your wrote that..............🤣

When you get up there, 😇, have a word with Custer about all that...............😝

If you don't believe me, perhaps you would believe the NIH. Their research shows that up to 95% of deaths among native people were due to disease.

 

 It is estimated that 95 percent of the indigenous populations in the Americas were killed by infectious diseases during the years following European colonization, amounting to an estimated 20 million people.

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8785365/#:~:text=It is estimated that 95,an estimated 20 million people.

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14 hours ago, Hanaguma said:

Thank you for the much needed etymology lesson.  

 

My point was different, as I suspect you know. I was stating that "the Indians" were not a cultural or political entity in pre-discovery North America.It was a fragmented, warring, tribal, brutal era. 

I think also what you're saying is that the prior level of brutality justified the colonial era of brutality and genocide. Or am I reading you incorrectly? 

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