Transcript - "Homesteading and The American Dream"

Transcript - "Homesteading and The American Dream"

March 14, 2024 -- Spring 2024 Law & Humanities Forum Series 

Listen to "Homesteading and The American Dream". 

BRYAN WAGNER:  Welcome everyone. It's nice to nice to see you all. So I'd like to welcome you to the last event in our Law and Humanities Lecture series this semester.

Today we'll be hearing from K-Sue Park, who will be speaking to us about “Homesteading and the American Dream”. Thank you so much Professor Park for being with us.

My me is Bryan Wagner. I'm a professor in the English Department, and I have had the pleasure of organizing this lecture series with Leti Volpp, the Robert D. andLeslie Kay Raven Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Race and Gender. The center is delighted to host this series, along with Berkeley Law and the Division of the of Arts and Humanities.

Many thanks to Ariana Ceja for helping with the logistics for this event.

I'm going to make a land acknowledgement and then I will introduce our speaker.

We recognize that UC Berkeley sits on the territory of xučyun (Huichin) (hooch yoon), the ancestral and unceded land of the Chochenyo speaking Ohlone people, the successors of the sovereign Verona Band of Alameda County. This land was and continues to be of great importance to the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe and other familial descendants of the Verona Band. 

We recognize that every member of the Berkeley community has benefitted, and continues to benefit, from the use and occupation of this land since the institution’s founding in 1868. Consistent with our values of community, inclusion and diversity, we have a responsibility to acknowledge and make visible the university’s relationship to Native peoples. As members of the Berkeley community, it is vitally important that we not only recognize the history of the land on which we stand, but also, we recognize that the Muwekma Ohlone people are alive and flourishing members of the Berkeley and broader Bay Area communities today.

To build on this verbal acknowledgment, the Center for Race and Gender pays the Shumi Land Tax as a small way to contribute to the healing of this history while acknowledging the sovereignty of the Ohlone people.

So to introduce our speaker, K-SuePark is Professor of Law at UCLA Law School. She writes and teaches about property, race, migration, and settlement in American legal history.  Specifically, her scholarship examines the development of American property law and the creation of the American real estate market through the histories of colonization and enslavement. 

Park’s publications have appeared in the Harvard Law Review, the Yale Law Journal, the University of Chicago Law Review, the History of the Present Law and Social Inquiry, and the New York Times, among many other publications. We are thrilled to have Professor Park with us today.

Professor Park's presentation will be followed by a brief question and answer period. We'll conclude this public event with refreshments at approximately 11 o’clock.


Please join me in welcoming K-Sue Park. 

K-SUE PARK:  Thank you so much for that introduction, Bryan, and also for your acknowledgment and thanks to you and Leti for inviting me here. It's really amazing to be back. I was a grad student here and I have a lot of feelings walking through this campus, so really happy for the opportunity to to revisit this place that was home. 

And thank you all for coming. It's Thursday morning and you're all here, and I really appreciate it. I'm actually happy to talk about anything you all want to talk about. But what I have prepared, I thought I would share with you. Can you all hear me? First of all, yeah, that sounds OK great. 

I thought I might share with you a little bit of the first chapter of the book that I'm working on and sort of tell you a little bit about that project.

And before I do that, I know most of you are grad students. And thank you so much for your responses. Your very thoughtful responses. I thought I might spend a minute talking about how I understand my own goals in doing this scholarship. I saw a lot of questions and comments and the responses that made me think that addressing how I think about what the work does and what I hope you know what it's really for. Might help to answer some of your questions, even if indirectly.

So my goal it's probably pretty clear to most of you is to help us understand the American property system, what it is, how it came to be, why it works the way it does, and specifically by looking at different mechanisms within it different moving parts, some of which are, you know, very popularly knowledged as as being essential mechanisms of American property law and others that are less recognized as being a part of that system but are still essential to it, like our migration policies, for example. 

I'm interested in this question because it still structures all of our lives. Because the main systems that comprise the system and the logics that they come with are getting propagated around the world, still. This is a system that the World Bank and other entities are trying to convince other countres to adopt.

So this is, to me, a very practical, contemporary interest, even though the work is so historic. 

And before I return to academia, I was a foreclosure and eviction defense attorney. So in addition to studying colonization and enslavement, I spent a lot of time working with the basic institutions and practices that are fundamental to the US land system.

Through doing this work at the same time that I was in and finishing my graduate studies I came to understand, you know, it was becoming more and more obvious to me that the elements that I was working with in our land system were not inheritances from England or the only and obvious way of doing things, as I've been taught in law school.

My reading and experience of the world and study and research. It was helping me to understand that American property law has been shaped by three fundamental things, which are conquest of native nations, lands, enslavement of black and indigenous people, retrenchment of the anti-blackness of slavery, as an organizing principle of the land system after abolition. So those are really three kind of key things that I focus on and try to show that arc.

How conquest and enslavement developed is really interdependent. Interdependent systems to produce American property for centuries and then after abolition, how the anti-blackness of slavery reorganized within the land system as the main commodity that constitutes wealth in this country and now around the world.

Right land is still 60% of all global wealth. You know, if we were to take into account all of the financial assets and derivatives of land-based interests, it would be enormous. It is far far outstrips the amount of countries GDP's and other indexes of wealth that we use.

So so these three big sort of historical topics. Not what we learn in law school, but simply, factually, historically, overwhelmingly, the fundamental story of the development of American property law. 

And so I'm working on a book that is from that understanding to offer a history and explanation of the American land system. Each chapter describes a fundal element, fundamental element of the the system. And together I hope that the book will these chapters in the book will explain how the different pieces required to make the system work work together, right?

To to make it possible to commodify land and to trade interests and real estate the way we do. So, like I said, the chapters each focus on different systems and practices. Which we largely take for granted today. And an example of this is the survey system.  

I have a chapter on the laws and legal institutions that make it possible to define commodities and land and people historically in the first place. These include the laws of slavery, the survey you know, professionals like overseers and the title registry system. There was a chapter on easy under team foreclosure. I know you all read some of the writing I've done about that. 

Which made it possible to turn property ownership into an access point for new lines of credit on an individual basis, but also as a community as a society without foreclosure of course, it would not be possible to sell the debt obligation attached to land as a commodity itself on the secondary market, which is a huge part of the trade and land today. This is more of a 20th-century development, but it's a long arc of getting to that without easy foreclosure in the first place. We couldn't have any of those markets to today.

OK, so none of these things were English systems or practices. Some of them were based on some English ideas and forms, but were adapted in really, really significant ways in the colonies through experiments, innovations in order to facilitate colonization, the seizing of more territory and enslavement, the accumulation of more property and people. Those became the two main forms of economic production in the colonies.

And then in the United States, each of these institutions has its own history, its own explanation for why it took the shape that it did and the dynamics that characterize the institutions that are still with us today. So that's really I'm hoping to explain those dynamics through this history.

But again, I'm really also hoping that all together the book will help us understand better how these systems together work to commodify land in the way that we do today and to offer some really practical examples of places where things could be could be different.

There's so many choices that go into making that system. You know, and there's lots of points of entry in these systems are still changing all of the time. So that's kind of my description of the book.

Actually, there's a, there's a couple more pieces. So I've mostly described parts, the survey, the registry system, things we still have things that are very, very everyday. I use these every single day in my practice as a lawyer. 

But I also have chapters on other kinds of systems that we have that are less associated with property now, like I was saying before, two chapters that deal with the organized violence of this process of property production, property making historically. One is on borders and the regulation of migration and the other one is about the police.

And then there's my first chapter, which is the chapter that starts the whole book that I'm going to share a little bit of with you today, which is about homesteading. Homesteading principles. Homesteading laws. Which really begin this story. It has to come first because. 

These are really the laws that gave fuel to the project of colonization of America over centuries.

Just a few more words on kind of the goals of scholarship, because I know many of you are developing your own projects and I just think this is a useful set of questions to think about. 

You know, I think a lot about who are my audiences.  What do I want them to take away from the work? What difference do I hope the work will make?

There is an incredibly large gap as I think you all know, between the understanding of property law that we learn in American law school, still in general, that judges and attorneys, among other legal practitioners have. Between that and the understanding of what property means in the life of any given person that you might meet on the street. Also, the understanding of properties of property that that affected communities have, that scholars of Native Studies have, of Black Studies, scholars of colonization and enslavement And as I see it, there is not a good reason for that. There are many reasons for it, but they're not good reasons, right?

And so I'm trying to offer a narrative that is fact-based pretty much through the line, lots of conceptual consequences but fact-based. That is makes it possible to speak to each of these audiences and allow their perspectives to meet. So there can actually be a conversation about what it is we're talking about in the first place.

I don't really see any other way to try to reach institutions that are actually capable of trying to affect change and at the same time try to change our consciousness of where we are living and how this came to be.

So the work is really intended to be legible to people who are using these tools, who are practitioners themselves. I want to fill in gaps that people don't receive from legal education about how integral race and violence and power are to American history and to property and to property law. 

You know to give a different account than that the tools they're using are neutral and efficient and rational. And I want them to consider the perspectives of affected communities historically and in the present and for others, for the general public, for scholars outside the field of law.

The law is a very opaque field, and I'm hoping to do some work of translation and some explanation into how these mechanisms work. I want to offer different ways for people not trained in law to understand all of the complex ways that law is something that we make, that we fight over, that we can change even as it continues to be an instrument of power here and elsewhere. 

For scholars in Native and Black Studies and and in that group, I would actually include many people outside of academia. For all those focused on collecting and telling stories from the perspectives of and about affected communities. I want to produce work that is adjacent to, and an allyship with theirs.

A lot of scholarship, well, as you know, is premised on the complete erasure of those stories and perspectives. But the history of these laws and institutions is bound up with and threaded through the history of Native, Black, and Black communities in this country,

Even though it's not the same thing as the stories of their experiences as communities. 

The story of the law sometimes forms a missing piece of the story that they are telling, therefore, and I want to make work that is useful to such scholarship that tells a story that is contiguous to it.

This is what I've arrived at after doing this work for now, kind of a while.

I just wanted to share that with you in the hopes that it would be helpful for thinking about your own projects and how you're approaching your questions.

And now if it's OK, I'll move on to talking about the homesteading principle. The laws that incentivized and encouraged homesteading.  

To me, this addresses a really basic question. You know, why did so many Europeans come here? You know, there weren't any. So I don't know if you ever wondered why?

Or how they came over?

It wasn't actually that easy to bring people over for for a significant amount of time reall until colonial government started to promise them land. Land that they didn't even yet have. It was that promise of land that got the colonial project going for real. 

Virginia was the first colony to create such a program, and then every colony passed laws like this. In the colonies, these head right laws, as they were called, granted individuals a certain amount of land, usually 50 acres for every head, for every person that you brought over to settle, to occupy. You could also pay your own way and seek title that way.

To get title there were requirements you have, had to occupy the land. You had to stay on it for a certain term of years. You had to live on it. Clear it, build on it. The requirements were different from colony to colony, but those requirements were constant, right? Some colonies required more or less time. Bigger and smaller buildings. It depended on their needs. 

This is a really continuous through line through American law, the United States adopted these kinds of laws as well. The structure of the laws that I just described is exactly the structure of the iconic Homestead Act of 1862. It's a big part of American lore. These laws helped, you know, the US to expand and acquire billions of acres in a pretty short period of time. And the principle of homesteading has continued in American law, even to the present.

So ideologically and mythologically I'm sure you all understand that, but also as a matter of actual law, the federal program created under that Homesteading Act didn't close until the 1970s. The last claims were still being processed in the 1980s. 

And by then, a new variety of urban homesteading acts, municipal acts had cropped up across the country designed to address blight in the cities by offering incentives of ownership to those who would put in their sweat equity. So they also had a very similar structure. 

And even more recently, a scholar seems to be visiting Berkeley right now, drafted a new Federal Homestead Act for the 21st century in an effort to try to redistribute claims to communities of color.

So. So it's a through line. It is with us still the structures of these laws. They will also pass laws like this were passed. You know, England gained experience and replicated in other colony, so there are laws like this in every settler colony in Australia and New Zealand, Canada, South Africa. They all pass this kind of law to bring their desired population to come settle in those places. 

So the story that I wanted to tell you is how these laws are not just this major part of the land system historically. I just want to tell you about the beginning part. 

They brought this system, the very possibility of this system into being in the first place. And also the very possibility of this country into being in the first place. 

So this really story about how this genre of grants and laws brought hundreds and thousands people over. How the promise of land became the primary way that colonies procured people to do labor. The most crucial labor of the colonization project, which was seizing lands and expelling native people from them. And this was the prerequisite to all else, crucially, it was the prerequisite to the creation of chattel slave plantations in the South.

And so I'm going to spend a little bit of time on that turn because the narrative about the creation of those plantations and a lot of the established literature on the slave trade, because it really reflects the long, dominant idea that land in America was plentiful and abundant. This is sort of the older scholarship. It really just doesn't examine the dependence of the shift upon that prior history.

So this is a bit of an attempt to bring the histories of slavery together with the histories of conquest.

And after that I'm going to say a few words about how these laws shape society, touching a little bit on the keywords piece that I know you all read for this class also.

So when the Virginia Company first formed the Virginia Colony and colonists even after they first came to Jamestown, the first permanent settlement in North America. It was not at all the plan to promise people land, and it was a real struggle to find recruits. 

It wasn't even an obvious answer that they would offer them land for many years. No other European colony at that time took this route. And before they hit on the solution of head rights, they had a really hard they had a really hard time.

The first expeditions ended in shipwrecks. There is a colony whose mysterious disappearance has never been solved, the lost colony of Roanoke. And there was an attempt to build a settle in Maine, that really quickly collapsed in the early 1700s. And it is really shocking if you look at this early history that the colony at Jamestown survived at all.

After all, there were just a couple hundred of them arriving in the land controlled by the Powhatan Empire, which had between 10,000 to 14,000 people.  And very many times that colony almost died out from starvation and disease. They were also jerks by all accounts, they fought a lot. They generated a lot of conflict with, you know, different members of the Powhatan Confederacy and in 1608, their numbers were down to only 38. 

The only way that the colony survived was through the continuous arrival of more ships with supplies and replenishment of hundreds more people.

But you know they really did not manage their affairs very well. They continue to harass, harass the Powhatan. And they kidnap their leaders childer and they held guns to their head and you know, basically held them at gunpoint until they gave them their food supply.

And so in 1609, the Powhatan blockaded the settlement. And this is a time now called the starving time when the colonists were consuming vermin, boiling their boots for food, resorting to cannibalism. Only 60 survived. So all these hundreds that came over to replenish the colony, they also all died. 

And this all meant very bad things for the company stock. This was a stock venture that came over on the dime of investors who, you know, we're not really willing to keep funding a project that was continuing to fail in such disastrous ways. So in an effort to keep the project going, they did lots of things, they restructured, they went private, they did all kinds of creative things to try to raise more money for the colony. But, you know, it's harder and harder to find investors with their track record.

And so they are pretty much out of resources by 1616, they really didn't know what to do. They didn't have any funds left for recruiting, transporting people, issuing dividends to stockholders. And because they had nothing else they granted stockholders 50 acres of land in Virginia for every share that they had. They also gave 50 acres to anyone who would go over to Virginia and 50 more for every person they paid to transport there. And it really seemed a little bit like they didn't even have any idea what this would do to their project. This was formalized in 1618 into a formal head right system, the very first.

The colony’s population went from 400 to 1000 that very year. By 1640 it was 8000. It had reached 70,000 within the first half century. 

The strategy of using land as the lure to recruit occupation forces saved that project. And before long every colony passed some version of this law, The Carolinas, the Jerseys, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Georgia. They all had head right systems. Massachusetts gave land grants to colonists who would recruit people to found towns. Giving them land so similar idea, did similar work and that work was fueling the numbers for an English invasion of lands. 

Colony's most vital need during this early period was population white population to occupy the lands against Native nations, homeland in their homelands, and to do the work of depopulating them. And land remained a tool that colonial governments and the US would rely on to draw sellers into very specific areas. 

Anywhere where their claim was most tenuous, where they most wanted to settle. That was their priority on the so-called Frontierlands, or Wildlands. For the next few 100 years, they would design a special program of headrights there, and say, you know, for three-years only, for one-years only, if you occupy, you can get titled to this land. 

So again, this is really the story of why so many Europeans came, And I I think this story, it is really important actually to think about the labor that this constituted. This is something that gets skipped over I think a lot in different literature from settler colonial studies that I read. We usually hear that this migration was about individuals seeking freedom, but to the extent that that's true, it's true, because freedom to colonists meant owning land.

And to get this land they had to perform this crucial and violent labor. So this goes against a lot of the historiography. Labor is often understood in the historiography of this period, solely in terms of agricultural labor.


Performed by indentured servants or servants, or enslaved people or wage laborers. But I want to argue that the occupation and seizure of lands was arguably the most important labor for this fundamentally economic project of colonization, and that colonies were very aware with this.

And if we want to ask what kind of labor that constituted agricultural labor was a part of it, we can look right at the homestead laws to see what it was that they required. How long you had you had to live there, you had to farm, you had to build things, you had to cultivate the land. So again, farming was part of that, but that was all for the purpose of occupation. They brought guns. They were required to bring guns, to carry them with them, to keep them at church. And so this was an occupation project. And that was the labor. 

The importance of this labor I think, becomes especially clear if you look at the timeline of the turn to chattel slave plantations in the South in the 1670s and the 1680s. By this time the trade and enslaved Black and Native people was established in every colony. 

This trade was very much enmeshed with the English colonies in the Caribbean. Where the English have been relying on enslaved African labor since to grow sugar since the 1640s. Those were their most profitable colonies. That was their favored business model.

But in the 1650s, despite the success of Barbados and other Caribbean colonies, the northern colonies actually had more enslaved people than you know, than the Chesapeake colonies, in part because neither actually held very many at all. 

And so a very large amount of scholarship has pondered the question of why this turn to chattel slavery from indentured servants in the, you know, the last quarter of the 17th century. Just there's a really expensive literature that goes back a long time. And the most prominent answers have been one that there was a labor supply issue.

That fewer indentured servants wanted to come to the colony because of changing economic factors in England, also in Virginia.  And the second answer is the social instability thesis, the idea of the vast inequality that had been growing between plantation owners and their servants was leading to rebellion by poor whites. The example is Bacons Rebellion 1676, when a group of poor planters and indentured servants and freedmen rose up against the elite and actually burned Jamestown to the ground.

So I think that these answers are wrong or at least incomplete, exactly because of how little those historians thought about the entanglement of the histories of conquest and enslavement in America. They have not often thought these histories together, or considered the labor of the colonization project.

And if you read a lot of this literature, you will see that I think I counted them once there are dozens and dozens of reference to vacant land, plentiful land, abundant land, but of course the land was not vacant and it was because it was not vacant that it took colonists many decades to gain enough control over those lands that they felt confident in imposing this other violent forced labor regime that they had developed in the Caribbean colonies. It was because they were facing 10 to 14,000 people. But it took them 60 to 70 years to gain enough control of the territory that they began their experiments and building plantations that were dependent on chattel slave labor then.

The counter, the typical accounts about labor supply or social and stability. I don't think that the English colonists preferred to begin with a colony that ran on the labor of white indentured servants. They had no choice. They were engaged in other primary necessary labor that became understood as white labor on the mainland.

And so in this sense, Virginia was not like Barbados, which the English which actually did find empty as a result of previous invasions by the Spanish that had caused the Arawak to flee to neighboring neighboring islands, if they had not died from disease. 

So the necessity of conquering and securing control of lands is a clear and obvious. Should be, I think, a major explanation for why they imported the Caribbean model model of chattel slavery so late to try to make Virginia like Barbados their most profitable colony.

And I think the events that followed that turn bear up this idea, which might seem just so obvious to you all, but it's like you find a mountain of scholarship that's all saying something different, and then you have to spend xix months of your lives trying to figure out how to speak to it without making it the absolute main point of your chapter.

OK, so I think the events that followed this bear this up wherever the English felt like they had a secure hold on land in the South, they moved quickly to transition into what was obviously to them the most profitable type of labor arrangement in a climate that would bear cash crops, which was the chattel slave plantation.

And sometimes they made mistakes. So in the 1660s, several people with interests in Virginia and the Caribbean were really feeling the shortage of lands on the islands. You know, islands are finite. You can't just keep expanding the way that colonists imagine they could on the mainland. 

And the first colony that was established as, envisioned as a colony of chattel slave plantations were the Carolinas. They used headrights, surprise, surprise, to lure plantation owners in Barbados and Bermuda to come to the mainland and bring the people that they had enslaved. And so in a new variation on head right laws, the Carolinas granted head right lands for enslaved black people, as well as for white people. And that meant you could double your property by purchasing more and save people. You would get so much more land for free.

And so the Carolinas as a colony really grew too quickly without establishing control of the lands first, the English were really in an effort to support this mass migration just moved very quickly to strip local Native nations of lands and caused a depletion of the resources so fast. This is a complex history, I'm boiling down.

But before too long the Creek, the Catawba, the Choctaw, the Apalachee, Sara, Santi Waccamaw and Yamassee ally together in what is known as the Yamasee War, and nearly destroyed the colony.  And colonists got the lesson that they couldn't just impose chattel slave plantations. They had labor needs to take the lands, they had labor needs to maintain control of this violent regime of plantation labor.

So they chose. They really thought about this and they said, well, next time we're not going to make the same mistake. And they were looking towards the Spanish and Florida. They're thinking we need another colony, a buffer colony. So then they looked to the South to create the last English colony, Georgia, a buffer colony which was founded in 17. They made this decision in 1733.

Their goal was to consolidate control of the coastal lands and initially for this project they forbade slavery. They instead use the initial. They were like, we should go back to the formula of headrights to get white labor. White labor, to do that white labor, the labor of conquest and occupation. And long story short again once they had established a land base on the coastline, they also collapsed their prohibition on slavery, 1751. And this caused more and more people to flood into the colony to build up its population and power. A lot of them from the Carolinas. 

Okay. So that's the part of the history I wanted to share with you. I also wanted to say a little bit about how these laws shaped the social world of America in lasting ways. And this is related to the keywords, “Entry of mine on property” that you read.

To return to the structure of the laws they're called homesteading laws. At least now they are. They're not called headrights anymore because they required colonists to make homes. And going back to Virginia's early series of disasters, you know, after those disasters, Virginia made a real effort to rebrand itself right before it struck upon its headright formula as it was coming upon this idea.

It tried to change its image from a colony of spoiled second sons of Lords and project itself is a colony for families. So when the first headright laws appeared, they contained provisions to support information of nuclear families Virginia allotted husbands equal shares of lands for their wives. Other colonies have special provisions to recruit women and increased the supply of free white women. This was really explicitly a goal.

Pennsylvania offered head rights to to women, to white women, and private industry began to pay transportation costs for men who married women recruits. Trading companies granted married men additional lands. They offered new couples indentured servants. So there were all of these incentives right to to be married and to settle households on these lands, very, very specifically.

And there was punishment for people who didn't do that. Salem, Massachusetts, took away what were called “Maid Lots” that they'd given to women who did not marry. Maryland did the same thing. And Plymouth Colony refused, forbade single persons from living alone without receiving special permission from the colony. Town courts taxed, and fined single self-supporting persons and couples who lived apart.

So there's a real policy goal of creating white nuclear family households, which had been identified as the ideal unit for performing the labor of conquest. And it is really from this rush families to frontier spaces that we get this familiar legend of the white pioneer family. And as you know, the possibility of land ownership for poor whites in England had been beyond their wildest imagination.

So they were coming over and getting variably, hundreds, thousands, A small estate was hundreds of acres, and the possibility of title ownership in this was a siren call to them. These laws that disciplined them into coming as nuclear families also inspired dreams of passing down landed property to their children and their descendants over generations.

 This was the American dream. And it was very potent and powerful, and it brought people over in droves. And it not only brought them over in droves, but it invested them very personally in the project of racial violence that they came to serve. And invested them in their very whiteness, which gave them this entitlement.

And their material fortunes hung on throwing themselves into this white supremacist project of colonization and enslavement. It made their invasions and enslavement a matter of their families futures. And so you can see how their ideologies formed from this perspective. How their own homesteading and the risks that they decided to shoulder, the wars that they engaged in, came to seem to them to be a matter of defending their homes, their families, their legacies.

How their pursuit of other people's lands and enslavement of other people came to look like participating in what all their neighbors and the members of their community were doing. And people didn't come from any other reasons besides this for a very long time.

So I think it is really important for us to understand how these families came to participate in the norms of a society founded on violence and white supremacy that justified its own violence by dehumanizing non-whites, which became a point of community belonging to to invest in those ideologies about the violent threats that Native and Black people represented, which they felt that they had to eliminate and control to protect their way of life.

Of course, on the other end of this, violence was as so much scholarship in Black and Native studies has emphasized the devastation of families and kinship networks. If this work has shown us how conquest has upended indigenous ways of life, decimated communities with diseases and warfare. Often forcing communities to scatter and for survivors to seek refuge with relatives neighboring tribes, leads to all whole other histories of where communities have gone and how they have been able to retain their traditions by combining with other nations often, and on lands that were not their original homelands, as you well know.

It also, the scholarship has also showed us how primary characteristic of slavery on southern plantations and in northern households alike, is the way that it shattered parental marital sibling relationships through the sale of people. People's efforts to reconstitute their families. How this whole system dishonored those family ties by forcing people to locations very distant from their loved ones, often without any ways to communicate with them to unknown faiths.

And so this is to really emphasize that the reality of conquest was that it did not primarily occur through a series of wars between formal military forces. That certainly also happened, but really the bedrock the primary force was an assault by white families upon non-white families. Part of normal became normal


market activity in this country.

Large scale military engagements were embedded in this broader violent context that could be characterized as a kind of low intensity warfare waged by white families upon indigenous families and upon black families, on whose lands they settled him, whom they enslaved

So there are a lot of consequences, legally, societally, culturally, of using something as profoundly central and intimate to people's personal and collective identity as the home, as a tool of racial warfare.

That is really what I'm trying to underscore here.  And I'm trying to show that part of the result of this strategy is the unique ways that laws here have constructed the home. Pathways to having a home. Finding a home. Being able to keep a home. What home looks like? What it means to us individually, collectively, over time? What the odds are of being able to stay in our homes over generations?

How this property system really tied the creation of value to identity, entrenching the values and ideologies of white supremacy and the social world of America. And people's identities, sense of family futures, lineages, everything they hold dear. The way it has constructed the home has placed market value above all, other values inherent in the land. 

In homes and people's lives, values that remain at the core of stability and survival for everyone but that also compete more and more with the monetary value of property. The drive to make that value go up and up and up, and pursuing and constructing and growing this kind of wealth is still an all-important labor in today's world. As you all know, I'm sure you can all see how these logics still stay alive in many ways around us today.

I’ve been talking long enough.