The dispossession of Indian natural resources

Author: Roberta Carol Harvey

The Indians possessed an abundant natural resource environment which included (1) renewable natural resources such as timber, water and arable land, along with wildlife resources such as fish and game; and (2) non-renewable natural resources, such as gold, silver, copper, iron ore, coal and oil.

The deliberate policy of the United States Government, the Indians’ trustee, was to expropriate Indian mineral resources. MONEY was needed to fund the industrial engine that would make the U.S. a dominant world power. Indians were a mere obstacle to subdue through all the brutality imaginable. Combat would be conducted by a technologically superior Army, by vigilante forces armed by the government, by miners and by colonial settlers. Indian country was invaded, and Indians incarcerated on their reservations.

 While Indians were lied to about the value of their lands, mining tycoons became wealthy from producing their minerals. Indians starved to death, froze to death, died from imported diseases and were wantonly exterminated while the Millionaires Club of the Washoe in Nevada was formed by the elite gentlemen of the Comstock in the 1870s, the hey-day of the mining activity, termed the “Silver Seventies.”