US should indebt Native Americans Take land
- Thomas Jefferson once wrote to Congress that the United States would try to put Native Americans in debt to take their land.
- He suggested encouraging Indian tribes to buy property on credit so that they would go into debt.
- The president’s comments were references in a report on American Indian schools, which abused and forcibly assimilated children.
Thomas Jefferson secretly wrote to Congress that the United States would try to put Native Americans in debt in order to take their land.
The US president’s memo to lawmakers was referenced in an Interior Department report released on Wednesday.
“In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson delivered a confidential message to Congress on Indian policy explaining a strategy to dispossess Indian tribes of their territories partly by assimilation,” the report said.
According to the report, Jefferson believed that “a policy of assimilation would make it easier and less costly in lives and money for the United States to sever the Indian tribes from their territories.”
Executed alongside the Assimilation Policy would be a process to encourage Native Americans to shop on credit. The hope, according to the report, was that they would go into debt, which would mean that the Indian tribes would have to “cede their lands” to the United States.
“To foster this disposition to exchange land, which they must save and which we want, for necessities, which we must save and which they want, we will push our trading houses and be happy to see the good and influential individuals among them run into debt, for we observe that when these debts exceed what individuals can pay, they become ready to go into debt.[em off] by a land cession,” Jefferson wrote in his letter to Congress.
The other method Jefferson invoked to rid Native Americans of their land was to convince them to give up their supposed hunting lifestyle and raise more cattle – a way of life that requires far less land.
“The vast forests necessary for a hunter’s life will then become useless, and they will see advantage in exchanging them for the means of improving their farms and increasing their domestic comforts”, wrote Jefferson.
“I trust and believe that we are acting for their highest good,” Jefferson wrote in reference to his proposals to Congress.
It was these suggestions that later created federal Indian law and policy, the report says.
The broader report released Wednesday investigated Indian schools in the United States, where Indigenous children were removed from their families and tribes and forcibly assimilated.
The investigation found that more than 500 students died while attending one of 408 boarding schools for Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian children that were run or supported by the US government in the 19th and 20th centuries, a reported Insider previously.
The report also found that child abuse was common in schools, including beatings and solitary confinement.