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Colonizers didn't steal native Americans' land


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Round 1
Land was not stolen from native Americans, but rather fought for and earned through luck and bloodshed. For this debate I will be representing the idea as a whole through the capture of the Inca Empire by the Spanish.

Native American tribes had fought each other for thousands of years before the settlers arrived. They were in fact unlike the western Europeans who were in a culture of discovery, a culture of war and bloodshed. In many of the native tribes, the most common way for one to gain status was by proving themselves in battle. This shows how common war was to most of the tribes, Especially the Inca. The Inca grew their empire to cover a large area of mid and southern Mexico through battle. They earned the land fair and square because for long as humans have existed up until very recently, if you could take it, it was yours.

The same goes for the Roman empire. When people think about the Roman empire, they don't think about the poor people the land was "stolen" from, they think about the mightiness of the empire and sometimes consider how powerful they must have been to be able to conquer as much land as they did. The same is the same for the Inca empire and later, the Spanish empire. The Spanish didn't just steal their land, they captured their land. Land is a very hard thing to steal. The only ways I can think of doing it are squatting or stealing the deed and changing court documents, which would have to be an inside job. In most other instances land is bought or won.  

On to excuses for the land being "stolen"

1.   The Europeans carried disease.
While the plagues that "plagued" the natives may have given Europeans an unfair advantage, they still had to fight the remaining natives for the land. It is like for example if your enemy is in a drought and you invade them while the population was staving. You would be taking advantage of a natural occurrence to achieve victory. In the example, it would still be commonplace for one to say they won the battle, not that they stole it.

2. Europeans had better technology than the natives
Europeans worked hard to gain their technology. They dug metal from the ground, reverse engineered ideas from other regions of the world, and were boosted by technology they already had. The weapons and armor the Europeans had was much superior to anything the natives could dream of, however this is a very common theme in wars; one side has superior weapons that help them to win. 

The Inca also fought back from the Spanish, which we can assume means they knew the Spanish were at war with them. Because they fought back, this can be defined as a war, which has a winner and a looser. In a war the two sides often take on each other with different goals in mind. For the Spanish, it was to gain land and find wealth on it. For the Inca it was to preserve their land and liberty with the side benefit of capturing some of the things they found and possibly creating something of their own version out to copper since it was much easier to find in the region than iron.

As you can see, the Spanish earned their land through a natural phenomenon called "disease" and some bloodshed. They took on a people who had been at war with their neighbors for thousands of years. Why should we see the European conquest as anything different than the native conquest?
Merriam-Webster defines the following:
  • Steal is “to take away by force or unjust means.”
  • Non Sequitur is “a statement (such as a response) that does not follow logically from or is not clearly related to anything previously said.”

1. History:
The travesties committed against the indigenous peoples of the Americas is common knowledge; but to cover my bases I’ll briefly touch upon them… 

It begins in the year 1492, with a murdering pedophile named Christopher Columbus landing an expedition in the Americas. His barbarism is quite well documented [1]. Basically a lot of kidnapping, raping, seizing of property, etc.

Land Taking
The formation of Jamestown in 1607 was the real spark to mass land theft.
1622 is when natives began trying to fight back, but as is well known, it was mixed, some tribes even siding with the colonialists in exchange for their own land rights being protected; but in the end 99% of it was stolen regardless of all alliances and treaties [2].

In 1776 the foundation of The United States of America marked a point where we can divide guilt between previous colonist groups, and ‘Merican colonists. Here’s a handy visualization for ease of reference [3].

Note that we even took away land we had deemed reservations for them to inhabit; after such incidents as the Trial of Tears in which we committed genocide to force them into said reservations.

2. Theft
There’s really not much ambiguity on what it means to steal things. You take away that which belongs to another person without their permission, you’re a thief.

Robin Hood stole from the rich to give to the poor, morally justified and all but still objectively stealing.

The colonists were by definition thieves. And they knew it, as clearly evidenced by the need for all the murders and oh so many broken promises. That they were murders (and various other crimes) in addition to thieves, does not invalidate that they were thieves.

As a hypothetical, imagine you move to a new neighborhood… You notice on the other side of your backyard fence is a nice swimming pool; so you claim it as yours, and then when someone claims it’s actually theirs you kill them to hold onto your claim… When the police show up, do they say something to the effect of “wow, he really earned that pool” or do they arrest you?

“fought for and earned through luck and bloodshed”
Murdering people to take their stuff, is murder in addition to theft but still theft.

“Native American tribes had fought each other … a culture of war and bloodshed”
Wholly irrelevant to if the colonists stole from them.

“if you could take it, it was yours.”
That does not negate if the means of acquiring it was theft. Even stealing from a thief is still an act of theft.

“When people think about the Roman empire…”
The logic here seems to be that if you like how someone looks (particularly if they’re well muscled and oiled) all actions committed by them are magically incapable of being crimes?

“The Spanish didn't just steal their land, they captured their land.”
That is like saying they didn’t steal it because they thefted it. In the English language we have something called synonyms; multiple words which amount to the same thing.

“Why should we see the European conquest as anything different than the native conquest?”
Even stealing from a thief is still an act of theft.


Round 2
If you are considering colonists to be the thieves, than in turn the natives who were living on the land who stole it from the last group, who stole it from the group before them, must also be thieves, which means the colonists didn't steal from innocent random people, they stole from people who had done the same thing they were doing right than. So the true owners of the land which would be the ones who bought it or discovered it, hadn't lived on it for thousands of years. 

The Natives after taking over a plot of land would often force the other natives who lived there out in a march similar to the trail of tears. 9/10 tribes land that was "stolen" did not have moral people living on it. Many of them were native versions of the Europeans so to speak.

Pro has offered no defense against the fact that the colonists broke their own treaties to steal land from the native people with whom they were in an alliance, and further that theft is theft regardless of if it’s justified.

As I’ve repeatedly already stated: “Even stealing from a thief is still an act of theft.”

Not only is the affirmative case non-sequitur, it’s gone so non-sequitur as to be an example of the not even wrong fallacy [1, 2]. The native people could have been just as much into raping children as Christopher Columbus, and that would not retroactively alter history to make the colonists have not stolen the Land.