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History 605, S4, Ep 8: "Buying America from the Indians."

In this episode, we take on the sticky issue of how land was bought and taken from Indians by the US Government. After over four centuries, the practice of buying land via agreed-upon contracts or via government treaties is not a simple one. Do Indians own the land upon which they live or lived? If so, does the tribe own the land or individual Indians? What rights do they have to sell, and are they the same rights as non-Indians? What right did Chief Justice John Marshall say the "discoverer" had? This issue first came to the US Supreme Court in what's known as Johnson v. McIntosh, a very complicated land case from 1823. Our guest, Blake Watson, takes us through the ins and outs of that case, subsequent cases known as "The Marshall Trilogy", the "discovery doctrine," and its meaning for us today. For more on this, see his book, Buying America from the Indians - University of Oklahoma Press (oupress.com)