The dispossession of Indian
Natural Resources

Author: Roberta Carol Harvey

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.