Unworthy Republic

by Claudio Saunt
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According to Unworthy Republic, what are the lasting consequences of the American government’s deportation policy?

According to Unworthy Republic, the lasting consequences of the American government’s deportation policy include poverty, trauma, and marginalization.

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One of the lasting consequences of the American government’s deportation policy is wealth. The United States has profited off of the expropriated Indigenous lands. In 1850, the expropriated land produced around 160 million pounds of cotton, or 16 percent of all cotton made in the United States that year. As ...

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One of the lasting consequences of the American government’s deportation policy is wealth. The United States has profited off of the expropriated Indigenous lands. In 1850, the expropriated land produced around 160 million pounds of cotton, or 16 percent of all cotton made in the United States that year. As Claudio Saunt says, “Clearly, as a profit-seeking enterprise, the mass deportations of the 1830s made sense.”

The deportation policy enriched individuals as well. The policy would ensure that certain families would prosper for decades to come. In 1838, Joseph D. Beers, using the money he made from Indigenous lands, founded the North American Trust and Banking Company. More than 150 years later, in 1990, Beers’s great-great-granddaughter would die with an estate worth $18 million.

Conversely, poverty is a lasting consequence for the dislocated Indigenous people. The Indigenous people could not pass on wealth to their communities and families. They had their assets taken from them. Saunt estimates that Chickasaw families lost between four to seven million dollars in their one-sided land deals. She estimates that Choctaws lost about ten million dollars and that the Creeks lost four to eight million dollars.

For Saunt, the lasting consequences are also intangible. The money can’t account for the psychological and emotional trauma of being “stripped of one’s multigenerational inheritance.” The numerical sums fail to express the loss of their “place-based knowledge of a thousand years.” Additionally, the deportation policy resulted in a lasting marginalization. Saunt quotes the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, which proclaimed, “They are on an outside of us, and in a place which will ever remain an outside.”

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