An Imagined Trial for Crimes Against Native Americans
Its 2022 in an alternate reality, and in the US Supreme Court Chambers, Tecumseh, Davy Crockett, Sitting Bull, Andrew Jackson, Metacomet, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Captain Jack, George Washington, Cochise, George Custer, Thurgood Marshall, Geronimo, and many, many others are ALL IN ATTENDANCE AT THIS VERY IMPORTANT TRIAL to decide reparations for Native Americans…how does this imagined trial end?
Everyone is there, all Colonials, indigenous Native Americans, Settlers of the Wild West, Algonquins, Sioux, Apache and the like, plus the Presidents, Generals, Justices, and Modern Progressives. What would happen at this gigantic trial for the ages, which admittedly might be too much for one article!
This epic trial is called to order by Chief Justice Thurgood Marshall (1967–1991), who has been recalled from the hereafter along with Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1993–2020), Roger Brooke Taney (1836–1864), Oliver Wendell Holmes (1902–1932), Earl Warren (1952–1969), Steven J. Field (1863–1897), Hugo L. Black (1937–1971), Joseph Story (1811–1845) and Sonia Sotomayor (2009-present), who if not the greatest justices of all time, at least represent the last 200 years of American history, more or less.
Arguing for just reparations for Native Americans, in the amount of the return of roughly 2/3 the continental United States, Alaska, and Hawaii will be Judge John Marshall, while arguing against all reparations will be Mr. Native American swindler himself, President Andrew Jackson.
Witnesses for the prosecution will be Native Americans Wahunsenacawh (Powhatan 1547–1618), Massasoit (1580–1661, Wampanoag), Metacomet (1638–1676, son of Massasoit), Pontiac (Odawah 1714–1769), Tecumseh (Shawnee 1768–1813), Major Ridge (Cherokee, 1771–1839), Chief Seattle (Suquamish 1786–1866), Osceola (Seminole 1804–1838), Cochise (Apache 1805–1874), Geronimo (Apache 1829–1909), Captain Jack (Modoc 1837–1873), Crazy Horse (Lakota 1840–1877), Sitting Bull (Lakota 1831–1890), Chief Joseph (Nez Pierce 1840–1905), and Quanah Parker (Comanche 1845–1911)
Also arguing for the prosecution will be Settlers, Pioneers, and Scientists Roger Williams (Rhode Island 1603–1681), Daniel Boone (Kentucky 1734–1820), Davy Crockett (1736–1836), Jim Bridger (Wyoming 1804–1881), and Jared Diamond (1937-, Anthropologist)
Witnesses for the defense will be John Winthrop (Boston 1588–1649),Thomas Jefferson (Virginia 1743–1826), William Henry Harrison (Virginia 1773–1841), Philip Sheridan (NY 1831–1888), George Custer (Ohio 1839–1876), Kit Carson (1809–1868), Rick Santorum (PA 1958-, Politician)
The opening arguments were initially dominated by defense attorney Andrew Jackson arguing that British Common Law, (governing land title), and The Right of Conquest (granting land to those who could defend it with arms, essentially the victors in American Wars), decided real estate ownership. He also argued that any transgressions affecting Crimes Against Peace came prior to the enactment of such in the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907, and Nuremburg Principles of 1945, and were null and void.
The prosecution argued eloquently that indeed per British Common Law, the Native Americans were entitled to all occupied lands prior to Colonial intervention by Adverse Possession, that land treaties had been negotiated in bad faith, thus subject to negation by the principles of Undue Influence, and that further, Native Americans had won a Supreme Court judgement in this very own court obtaining sovereign status (in Cherokee Nation vs Georgia in 1831), and that this very defense attorney Andrew Jackson disobeyed the court and relocated the Cherokees anyway, setting the stage for these very reparations. Finally, the prosecution argued that the senseless slaughter of Native American women, children and habitat were Genocidal Crimes Against Humanity and were thus crimes against Natural Law (even though most acts preceded formal Genocide laws), and that many acts would have qualified for murder convictions if properly litigated and tried in their day.
The prosecution was first to bring witnesses, and was initiated by Massasoit, who claimed that he was too nice to the British settlers during the first Thanksgiving, and should have listened to Metacomet and Wahunsenacawh, who both subsequently testified that although both were hostile to the settlers, they came anyway and ended up with lands using guns, germs, booze, and broken contracts. Next Pontiac and Tecumseh testified as to their betrayal at the hands of the French and British, who sold them out during peace negotiations with the Americans without their consent. Next Major Ridge testified as to how he and his Cherokee people fought with the Americans and became good citizens, yet STILL got pushed off their lands.
Roger Williams, Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, and Jim Bridger testified as to the good character of most Native Americans, saying that they helped the colonists survive and yet were swindled for the most part.
Chief Osceola testified to the raw deal given the Seminoles by Andy Jackson, a prelude to the “Trail of Tears” which cost many their lives. Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse next testified to the broken Laramie Treaty of 1868, meant to allow access to South Dakota gold fields at the expense of the Lakota and others, plus the horrific Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890, in which their Lakota women and children were slaughtered. Next, Cochise and Geronimo testified along with Quanah Parker, that settlers and soldiers had destroyed the Apache and Comanche sources of food and water, while Chief Seattle, Chief Joseph, and Captain Jack complained that they were crowded onto tiny reservations near Oregon with their enemies, with a resultant life and death struggle. Finally, Jared Diamond stated that indeed a genocide had been committed on Native Americans through the intended or unintended use of European guns, germs, and steel, and that the Europeans greatly benefitted from the Native American contributions.
Now it was the defense’s turn. John Winthrop testified to the tendency of proud Algonquin tribes to refuse Christianization under Puritan Law, which begat subsequent conflict. Thomas Jefferson explained that he sympathized with Native Americans, but that he had no choice but to relocate them under the terms of the 1783 Paris Treaty and the Louisiana Purchase. William Henry Harrison said that the Shawnee were trouble makers who deserved to be betrayed and lose their lands. General Sheridan testified that the Indians had raided pioneer settlements, and that indeed the only good Indian was a dead Indian. George Custer explained that he admired Native Americans, but that they fought among themselves and refused to succumb to him and his career aspirations. Kit Carson explained that he and General Fremont had to make the West safe from scheming Mexicans, Navajos, and Apaches. Finally, Rick Santorum testified that Native Americans made few contributions to American culture.
Upon this last statement, prosecutor Marshall recalled Jared Diamond to the stand and asked simply “what contributions did Native Americans make to our Country?” to which Diamond quickly replied “corn, tomatoes, potatoes, beans, squash, cranberries, maple syrup, pumpkins, jerky, avocado, peanuts, chewing gum, tobacco, turkeys, rubber, cotton, quinine, lacrosse, canoes, kayaks, snowshoes, moccasins, aspirin, wilderness survival, and basic respect for Nature, to name a few. Without a doubt, the settlers owe their lands, their health, their very lives and subsequent well-beings to Native Americans” To which Marshall replied “Thank you, no further questions”.
After the court convened for many hours, Judge Marshall read this solemn decision:
1) “Though it is a tragedy, the court must rule that the lands given the American Colonies west to the Mississippi River via the Treaty of Paris (1763, ending the French Indian War), Treaty of Paris (1783 ending the American Revolution), the Louisiana Purchase (1803), the Treaty of Ghent (1814 ending the War of 1812), the Treaty of Velasco (1836, ending the War for Texas Independence), and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848, ending the Mexican American War) are indeed under the Right of Conquest (the law at that time), and therefore no general reparations are hereby granted to Native Americans on that basis” (a collective groan went out among the crowd, hoping for a more humane and favorable decision)
2) “However”, Judge Marshall declared, “the court recognizes through the principle of Undue Influence, several specific instances where specific reparations are due, to wit:
a) Due to the egregious betrayal of the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, Seminole and various other tribes, the court hereby declares the restoration of the northern fifth of the lands of Georgia, Alabama (Huntsville excepted), Mississippi, the NE fifth of Arkansas, the Western fifth of Tennessee (Memphis excepted), and the Southeastern fifth of Missouri, so as to create a contiguous and sovereign Native American nation, with monies paid to the current land owners at market value by the US taxpayers.
b) Due to similar betrayals of the Shawnees and others during the War of 1812, we hereby grant the southern fifth of Indiana (Evansville excepted) in like fashion.
c) Due to similar betrayals to the Sioux, we hereby grant the Southwestern fifth of South Dakota in like fashion.
d) Due to similar betrayals to the Nez Pierce, Modoc tribes and others, we hereby grant the Northeastern fifth (Baker City excepted) of Oregon in like fashion.
e) Due to similar betrayals to the Comanche and Apache tribes, we hereby grant the Texas panhandle (Amarillo excepted) in like fashion.”
During the reading of the verdicts, several collective groans were registered by advocates of both sides. It was a compromise for sure, with neither advocacy getting everything they wanted, but at least some sort of justice was served and the Nation could now proceed to the healing stage. Both sides knew also of the pain ahead involving the relocation of many Non-Native American families having to be moved at taxpayer expense, and the anguish and possible violence that lay ahead.