land-grab

Interactive map by University of Georgia historian shows U.S. appropriation of over 1.5 billion acres Indigenous land, 1776-1887

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This interactive map, produced by University of Georgia historian Claudio Saunt to accompany his new book West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776, offers a time-lapse vision of the transfer of Indian land between 1776 and 1887. As blue “Indian homelands” disappear, small red areas appear, indicating the establishment of reservations.  (Above is a GIF of the map’s time-lapse display; visit the map’s page to play with its features.)

The project’s source data is a set of maps produced in 1899 by the Bureau of American Ethnology. The B.A.E. was a research unit of the Smithsonian that published and collected anthropological, archaeological, and linguistic research on the culture of North American Indians, as the nineteenth century drew to a close.

While the time-lapse function is the most visually impressive aspect of this interactive, the “source map” option (available on the map’s site) offers a deep level of detail. By selecting a source map, and then zooming in to the state you’ve selected, you can see details of the map used to generate that section of the interactive. A pop-up box tells you which Native nation was resident on the land, and the date of the treaty or executive order that transferred the area to the government, as well as offering external links to descriptions of the treaty and of the tract of land.

In the site’s “About” section (reachable by clicking on the question mark), Saunt is careful to point out that the westward-moving boundaries could sometimes be vague. Asked for an example, he pointed me to the 1791 treaty with the Cherokee that ceded the land where present-day Knoxville, Tenn. stands. The treaty’s language pointed to landmarks like “the mouth of Duck river,” a broad approach that left a lot of room for creative implementation. When dealing with semi-nomadic tribes, Saunt added, negotiators sometimes designated a small reservation, “rather than spelling out the boundaries of the cession.” Read more…

World Bank Admits Link to Forced Evictions in Africa

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World Bank Admits Link to Forced Evictions in Africa

February 23, 2015

The World Bank has failed to properly enforce its environmental and social guidelines regarding Indigenous Peoples in Africa. According to a leaked report obtained by  the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the Bank knew there was an “operational link’’  between its funding for an Ethiopian development initiative and the forced evictions of thousands of Indigenous Peoples.

Over the last decade, the World Bank created a health and education initiative that galvanized about $2 billion in funds. Members of the Indigenous Anuak people in Ethiopia’s Gambella region declared that the Ethiopian government was using some of the World Bank’s money in a program that supported forced evictions and allowed soldiers to beat, rape and kill Anuak people who refused to leave their homes.

Cultural Survival’s 2012 campaign successfully urged the governments of the US and UK, donor nations to Ethiopia, to recognize this link and pull funding for the projects that lead to the removal of Indigenous Peoples from their lands.  The campaign highlighted the Anuak people’s forced removal to state-created villages, and how those who refused to leave their lands were met with violent attacks, rape, and torture.

According to a leaked watchdog report, The World Bank’s internal Inspection Panel admitted that there was an “operational link” between the World Bank-funded program and Ethiopian authorities’ eviction actions. The Ethiopian government has argued that the forced removal of Indigenous Peoples and the creation of villages, known as the “villagization” program, was designed to provide access to basic socio-economic infrastructures like food, healthcare, and educational facilities to the people who are being relocated and to bring “socio-economic & cultural transformation of the people.” Under this program, the Ethiopian government forcibly relocated approximately 70,000 Indigenous People from the Gambella region to new villages that actually continue to lack basic necessities and minimum health standards. The Bank’s failure to publicly acknowledge this “operational link” and to ensure the protection of affected communities means the World Bank violated its own policies based on project appraisal, risk assessment, financial analysis and protection of Indigenous Peoples, concludes the report. …Read More.