University of the District of Columbia Law Review


Gray O'Dwyer


Six hundred years ago, all land in America was Indian land.1 Then,"[Europe] conducted some of her adventurous sons into this western world.., and discovery gave title... [which] could be consummated by possession."2 This "doctrine of discovery," agreed upon between colonial powers, essentially granted title to anyone who could occupy American soil. Europeans quickly scrambled to negotiate peace treaties with native tribes so that they could install settlers and thereby claim territory. The inherent problems with these treaties were numerous; beyond conflicting interests,3 outright fraud,4 and language barriers, the terms of transfer were inherently invalid because the government that was taking possession of the land already had absolute title to it.

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