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April 23, 2015 03:55 PM UTC

By Hook or by Crook: Colorado GOP's Attempt to "Seize" U.S. Public Lands

  • 4 Comments
  • by: PKolbenschlag

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Old Fuss and Feathers defeated the Mexican general Santa Anna leading to the acquisition by the United States of lands in Western Colorado.

The story in my family is that General Winfield Scott is a grandfather.  My own connection, I suppose, and not yet seven generations removed, to the tragedy of ‘Manifest Destiny.’

Scott was a colonel when he marched the Cherokee to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears.  And he was a general when he took Mexico City, and the United States took half of Mexico in what has long been considered an unprovoked and unjust war.

Where I sit today, along the arroyos that sweep down from the flanks of the Grand Mesa, maybe right atop where Friar Dominguez stood to look at the plain of the North Fork of the Gunnison 80 years before my forebear marched against Santa Anna, and when the valley was still claimed by Spain; this was all part of  Mexico, and ceded at the point of a bayonet in the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848.

Of course the land only ‘belonged’ to Spain and then Mexico in the sense that they claimed it, their explorers and traders and trappers passed through most certainly on occasion, as had the Spanish friars in 1776, not too far from what became one leg of the Old Spanish Trail

And other people already lived here too.  The Spaniards did not discover it. Indeed in western Colorado, and right here in the North Fork, people have made their home for 12,000 years or more.  

Chief Ouray of the Uncompahgre Utes and his wife Chipeta.

But all that is the past.  The title then came to the United States, it had been bought literally in the blood of conscripts and Mexicans and with the treasure of American taxpayers.

The majority of the federal lands in western Colorado, if they no longer belong to the Utes who had already lived here for hundreds of years and to whom they were promised in treaty by the U.S. in 1868, have certainly never belonged to the State of Colorado. 

The agreements the Indian makes with the government are like agreements a buffalo makes with a hunter after it has been pierced by many arrows. All it can do is lie down and give in.                    – Chief Ouray

These lands now belong to the American people as a whole—who gained their title though war, purchase, and forced relocation.  It is an often ignoble history,  part of which is my own even as I sit and stake my own claim on other lands also thus acquired. 

There may, indeed, be some that have a more legitimate claim to that title than the U.S. government.  But the same can be said of the title asserted by the white settlers and their progeny.  So when Ray Scott, Jerry Sonnenberg and the Colorado Republicans talk about studying ‘taking back’ Colorado’s federally managed public lands: they speak of studying title theft. 

Comments

4 thoughts on “By Hook or by Crook: Colorado GOP’s Attempt to “Seize” U.S. Public Lands

  1. Thanks for thorough fact based explanation. Many of us know that the idea that the land was taken away from the states and needs to be taken back is bull but few could have explained it more accurately.

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