Radio Atlantic: Who Gets to Be American?
In a recent episode of Radio Atlantic, three second-generation immigrants—Priscilla Alvarez, Matt Thompson, and Alex Wagner—discussed America’s history with immigration and its immigration politics today.
I just listened to your “Who Gets to Be American” show, and I loved it. I would be curious to see you engage in the same conversation in the context of the native presence in North America. All of North America was indigenous land, and virtually all of the U.S. territory west of the Appalachian Mountains was acquired through a coercive treaty process.
For example, when the Michigan Territory was created, in 1805, native peoples retained title to almost all the land in the state (with the exception of small number of non-native property holders in the Detroit area). A series of 10 treaties negotiated from 1807 to 1842 extinguished the native title to all other lands in the state, except for a handful of reservations, and transferred this land into the public domain. This land was then sold to white settlers at a subsidized price under the laws of the Northwest Ordinance. This was a pretty rapid transfer of land from native peoples to American settlers.