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Native Tribes Have Lost 99% of Their Land in the United States

posted by Jason Kottke Feb 02, 2022

A recent study estimates that indigenous people in the US "have lost nearly 99% of the land they historically occupied".

The data set — the first to quantify land dispossession and forced migration in the United States — also reveals that tribes with land today were systematically forced into less-valuable areas, which excluded them from key sectors of the U.S. economy, including the energy market. The negative effects continue to this day: Modern Indigenous lands are at increased risk from climate change hazards, especially extreme heat and decreased precipitation.

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

Indigenous people 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 treaties, or oral histories. "The pushback you get in academia is that qualitative narratives are not robust. [Scientists often ask,] 'Where's the data? Where's the hard science?'" Smiles says. "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 Native Land maps. (thx, meg)