Wednesday, 28 June 2017

terra nullis or cincinnatus

Previously we’ve explored how the origins of the American Revolutionary War were less noble than they are usually framed in stories like the Boston Tea Party or the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, and it was refreshing to see that history and scholarship revisited through tracking down a team of colonial surveyors in the 1760s and the charts that they produced that demarcated the boundaries between what lands could be settled and what was the domain of Native American tribes. Many of the maps included both UK and Native American signatories agreeing to rivers, peaks and other landmarks as border markers.
Quite earnest in their efforts to reach a compromise that would promote a harmonious co-existence, all the territory of course still belonged to the Crown but settlers were not infringe further into Indian lands. The colonial governors were not always willing to enforce these treaties and in some cases flagrantly encouraged settlement and coastal, seaboard European communities moved further and further inland and on-going disputes, punctuated with memorable riots and skirmishes, eventually precipitated into rebellion and war. Admittedly conditions for aboriginal people was less than concordant at all times in Canada and Australia and I admit that I haven’t done the research on how things played out differently in those territories, but I think their experience was very different from the systematic “genocidal dispossession” experienced in America.