Power and Politics in American Indian History: Colonial Dispositions of Land, Race, and Hunger

CJ Trowbridge


Power and Politics in American Indian History

Response 5b

Alyosha Goldstein, “The Ground Not Given: Colonial Dispositions of Land, Race, and Hunger” (2018, 83-106)

            The united states is a system of white colonial agriculture built on the exploitation, displacement, and extermination of nonwhite groups for the benefit of white colonists. (Goldstein 83) One obvious example is black people, who were kidnapped and enslaved by the millions in order to facilitate the white ethnostate’s agricultural imperialism. (83) Another less well known and understood example is indigenous people, who had billions of acres and a hundred million lives stolen from them through systematic mass extermination and displacement for the benefit of the white ethnostate’s agricultural empire. (83) In both cases, the systematic subjugation, displacement, enslavement, and extermination of these groups went on for centuries and continues today. (84)

For both groups, the policy of overt violence shifted about a century ago to a policy of covert violence. (84) Instead of using military campaigns to exterminate millions of native people, the modern white ethnostate uses social murder. Systems like predatory lending combined with the deliberate destruction of existing native land and resources meant that people were forced to frequently move and start over, taking on more and more debt each time. Not only were they unable to subsist, but their children had no hope of subsisting because they inherited this predatory debt. (84) Freed slaves and their descendants experienced much the same social murder through predatory debt and repeated displacement.

One major difference between black people and native people after the civil war was the ownership of land. Black people were promised land but never given that land. (90) Native people on the other hand were ostensibly given land which has been stolen or destroyed piece by piece by the hundreds of millions of acres over the decades. (91) Naturally, racism became an integral part of the effort to steal this land from native people. The Dawes Act established standards for racial purity which would grant or deny rights and privileges to native people based on how “pure” their blood was. (91) After centuries of settler colonialism and the extermination of over a hundred million native people, to say nothing of the countless rapes that have taken place throughout the ongoing genocide, it is especially egregious and racist in the extreme to establish purity tests for the last remnants of the indigenous population.


Works Cited

Goldstein, Alyosha. “The Ground Not Given: Colonial Dispositions of Land, Race, and Hunger.” Social Text, 2018, www.academia.edu/36085488/_The_Ground_Not_Given_Colonial_Dispositions_of_Land_Race_and_Hunger_uncorrected_proofs_.