Saturday, March 22, 2008


Comes from the Greek oikos and nomos, oikos is the word for house
And nomos is the Greek word for custom or law “rules of the household”
…the study of choices as they are affected by incentives and resources.

Prior to Colonization or Two Different Worlds:

There are various estimates of the number of Native peoples living in North America from millions country wide to approximately 32,000 in the area we now call Maine and New Brunswick. Villages were built on coasts, rivers and estuaries. Tribes hunted with the seasons and moved from village to village carrying little and accumulating very little.

The Wabanaki were mostly hunters but they did grow some things like corn, tobacco, potatoes, squash etc. They had a network of friends, family and allies. The larger
their network, the better and the greater the number of people they could count on for assistance in times of need. They traded with one another and with other tribes for all their wants and needs.

Wealth was counted by the number of family and friends.
Pristine lands and environment existed, the Native world was a land of plenty and they wanted for nothing. The economy was sound. There were times of the year however, when hunting was not good and they had to live from food they stored and smoked, but life was good.

Work did not dominate their lives. There was abundance. They protected the environment and did not over hunt or over fish an area. They were careful to preserve the forests and the rivers.

They did not over burden themselves with possessions. Their possessions were limited to what they could carry; the accumulation of things to them was a hindrance. Chiefs were chosen for their strength, their ability to hunt and their oratory ability to persuade. A Chief would speak and lead but tribal members did not have to listen and they did not have to follow. It was a true democracy.

There were no courts, no judges and no military ranking. When major decisions had to be made such as going to war or moving from their territory the whole tribe had a say and this is carried over even to present day. This abundant pristine world of the Wabanaki was to change forever with the arrival of the Europeans on our shores.

On the other side of the world things were very different. A culture of aggression and possession dominated.

Papal bull’s of Jan 8th 1455 by pope Nicholas to King Afonso V of Portugal extended to the Catholic Nations of Europe dominion over discovered lands during the age of Discovery. Along with sanctifying the seizure of non-Christian land it encouraged the enslavement of Native, Non-Christian peoples of Africa and the New World.

Pope Alexander the VI issued inter caetera stating one Christian Nation did not have the right to establish domain over lands previously dominated by other Christian Nations. Thus establishing “The law of Nations.”

The rights bestowed from these papal bulls have never fallen from use, serving as the basis for legal arguments That effect us today.


According to Rebecca Adamson in her essay found in the book “The Color of Wealth The Story of the U.S. Racial Wealth Divide”
There are 562 Federally recognized tribes some with less than 100 acres to 17 million acres on the Navajo reservation. (333 federally recognized tribes in the lower 48, 229 Alaska villages.) The lower 48 reservation lands equal 54 million acres if 42 million acres of Alaska land is added, the aggregate amount would qualify as the 4th largest land base by area in the United States behind Alaska, Texas and California.

There is an abundance of Timber, grazing and crop lands, 4% of U.S oil and gas reserves, 30% of the low-sulfur coal reserves, 40% of the privately held uranium deposits.
For most people anywhere in today’s economy such property holdings would equal wealth and money. According to the 2000 census Native Americans have the highest poverty rate in the Nation. How did this group of people so rich come to be poverty stricken? A long history of Federal policy systematically is stripping them of their assets.

Each tribe has it’s own story related to treaty making, land theft, and control of tribal resources, but federal policies and State policies toward Native Americans on the whole reflect one theme: Control of Native Assets.
Examples: Indian removal act/Andrew Jackson
The relocation of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Choctaw from their rich agriculture land in Gerogia and other southern territories.

The sale of land on the Osage reservation in Oklahoma to non-Indians to gain access to oil in the early 1900’s or the “termination” of the Klamuth tribes in Oregon to sell timber rich land to the paper companies. Federal policies toward Indians have methodically removed wealth form Native populations.

In such cases as Johnson V. M’cintosh where the U.S Supreme Court ruled that as a result of European discovery and assumption of ultimate dominion, Native Americans had only a right to occupancy of Native lands, not the right of title. This decision was upheld in 1831 in the Cherokee Nation v Gerogia, giving Georgia authority to extend State laws over Cherokees within the State and describing Native tribes as domestic dependant Nations.” This decision was modified in Worcester v Georgia which stated the U.S Federal Government and not Individual States, had authority in Indian Affairs, but it maintained the loss of right to title upon European discovery.

In the mid 19th century dams were built on streams and rivers to produce waterpower necessary to run sawmills and gristmills. Dams prevented spawning of migrating fish as the use of the coast was increasingly blocked. Wabanaki complained about the dams but to no avail. The industry moved further north and east clear cutting the forest and destroying the land. Along the Penobscot river alone there was some 250 saw mills. Similar patterns appeared all over the east coast. Farmers’ clear-cut huge areas to plant crops and graze cattle.

Wars were fought over this aggression and abuse of the land and Wabanaki resources. The major Wabanaki goal throughout the years of conflict was to retain their land and continue to govern themselves.

Next how this effected Wabanaki People when Maine became a State.

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