THE IRON TRIANGLE
Business, Government, and Colonial Settlers’ Dispossession of Indian Timberlands and Timber
By Roberta Carol Harvey
How American Indians were cheated out of the inherent wealth of their land and timber, at times exterminated for it, by greedy settlers, bribed federal agents, land sharks, lumber barons and a derelict federal trustee who failed to protect its guardians’ rights.
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This book on timberland and timber resources is part of a series on the dispossession of Indian natural resources by the “iron triangle” of the federal government, big business and colonial settlers. The primary period covered in this book is 1840–1900. The areas focused on include the Great Lakes and the Pacific Northwest. Congress acknowledged that from “...the beginning, Federal policy toward the Indian was based on the desire to dispossess him of his land.” Under the United States’ dictatorial “doctrine of discovery,” Indians were mere tenants on their land, with no right to the natural resources. The trajectory was clear: removal, cession of millions of acres of land, interment on reservations, allotment of tribal land to individuals to break up tribes, and the sale of those allotments. Disease, starvation, extermination, massacres, private wars and war crimes ensued. This opened the “inexhaustible mineral, agricultural and natural resources within their dominion” for white exploitation. Congressional legislation opened the land of the west for $1.25 per acre or at times for free, without buying Indian land, just to get settlers’ boots-on-the-ground. Land sharks, in collusion with federal agents, cheated Indians out of their land and timber. Big business used its political and economic clout to assure its control of the country’s natural wealth. Lumber barons monopolized the timber industry and set prices. By 1920, three-fifths of the United States’ original timber was gone. Indians served as menial laborers for logging companies, cutting timber and peeling bark. “Scalped” of the wealth inherent in their natural resources, they were left destitute. This book is for them.
The author, a citizen of the Navajo Nation, is an attorney and historian. She holds BA, MBA and JD degrees from the University of Denver and is a lecturer on Indian law related to policy, land, water and natural resources. She is committed to Indian self-determination, ending assimilation policies and promoting accurate education. She is also the author of The Earth is Red: The Imperialism of the Doctrine of Discovery and The Eclipse of the Sun: The Need for American Indian Curriculum in High Schools from Sunstone Press.
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