Effects of land dispossession and forced migration on Indigenous peoples in North America

Justin Farrell, Paul Berne Burow and 4 other contributors

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    To date, we lack precise estimates of the extent to which Indigenous peoples in parts of North America were dispossessed of their lands and forced to migrate by colonial settlers, as well as how the lands that they were moved into compare to their original lands. Farrell et al. constructed a new dataset within the boundaries of the current-day United States and found that Indigenous land density and spread in has been reduced by nearly 99\% (see the Perspective by Fixico). The lands to which they were forcibly migrated are more vulnerable to climate change and contain fewer resources. Research and policy implications of these findings are discussed. —TSR A dataset of Indigenous land dispossession and forced migration compares historical with present-day tribal lands. What are the full extent and long-term effects of land dispossession and forced migration for Indigenous peoples in North America? We leveraged a new dataset of Indigenous land dispossession and forced migration to statistically compare features of historical tribal lands to present-day tribal lands at the aggregate and individual tribe level. Results show a near-total aggregate reduction of Indigenous land density and spread. Indigenous peoples were forced to lands that are more exposed to climate change risks and hazards and are less likely to lie over valuable subsurface oil and gas resources. Agricultural suitability and federal land proximity results—which affect Indigenous movements, management, and traditional uses—are mixed. These findings have substantial policy implications related to heightened climate vulnerability, extensive land reduction, and diminished land value.