Structured Inequality in the U

Structured Inequality in the U - .S...

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Structured Inequality in the U.S.  by Adalberto Aguirre, Jr. and David V. Baker …The   European   explorers   who   arrived   at   American   shores   planted   the   seeds   of  inequality on their initial contact with the indigenous people of the Americas.  The European  explorers did not simply “discover” America; they arrived on the North American continent with  political models especially designed to   conquer   and   subjugate   land and people.   The treaties  between the Indian nations and the white government of the United States were instruments of  colonization used to exterminate and dislocate American Indians from their land. As a result, treaties became instruments of subjugation for depriving American Indians of  their land and freedom.  One commentator notes that “by the time Europeans began colonizing  the Americas, they had established and adhered to a number of accepted legal norms concerning  territorial acquisition and possession.”  Besides genocide and cultural annihilation, Eric Kades  argues that “one of the most critical deprivations that the American Indians suffered at the hands  of the United States was the loss of their lands.   Within two centuries of the first European  settlement in North America, the newcomers held title to almost every acre of the continent.” Chief Justice John Marshall’s unanimous opinion in  Johnson v. M’Intosh  established the  legal rationale for the U.S. land grab of Indian territory.   The case involved an appeal to  determine title to Indian-occupied territories wherein the plaintiff had purchased land in 1773  and 1775 from the Illinois and Piankeshaw Indian nations.  Marshall’s opinion on the legality of  the conveyances made it clear that “the discovery of the Indian-occupied lands of this nation  vested absolute title in the discoverers, and rendered the Indian inhabitants themselves incapable  of   transferring   absolute   title   to   others.”     Put   another   way   by   “conquering”   Indian   lands,  Europeans, rather than Indian nations, were vested with absolute title over Indian lands – the so- called   discovery  rule .    U.S.  courts   continue   to  follow   Marshall’s  thesis   in   M’Intosh   as  a  fundamental principle of American property law. _____________________________________________________________________________ _ From Matson, ed.,  The Spirit of Sociology: A Reader, 3 rd 2011, Allyn and Bacon The sociolegal significance of M’Intosh continues to divide historians.  Some scholars  argue that because the U.S. government has consistently subscribed to a policy making voluntary 
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This note was uploaded on 09/27/2011 for the course SOCIOLOGY 290 taught by Professor Jeffwilhelms during the Spring '11 term at Rutgers.

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Structured Inequality in the U - .S...

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