Ethnic Cleansing and the Indian

Ethnic Cleansing and the Indian

The Crime That Should Haunt America 
by Gary Clayton Anderson

University of Oklahoma Press, 2015

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Mention “ethnic cleansing” and most Americans are likely to think of “sectarian” or “tribal” conflict in some far-off locale plagued by unstable or corrupt government. According to historian Gary Clayton Anderson, however, the United States has its own legacy of ethnic cleansing, and it involves American Indians..






In Ethnic Cleansing and the Indian, Anderson uses ethnic cleansing as an analytical tool to challenge the alluring idea that Anglo-American colonialism in the New World constituted genocide. Beginning with the era of European conquest, Anderson employs definitions of ethnic cleansing developed by the United Nations and the International Criminal Court to reassess key moments in the Anglo-American dispossession of American Indians.

Euro-Americans’ extensive use of violence against Native peoples is well documented. Yet Anderson argues that the inevitable goal of colonialism and U.S. Indian policy was not to exterminate a population, but to obtain land and resources from the Native peoples recognized as having legitimate possession. The clashes between Indians, settlers, and colonial and U.S. governments, and subsequent dispossession and forcible migration of Natives, fit the modern definition of ethnic cleansing.



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