Aboriginal Title: Today’s word is…

USUFRUCT.¬† (Sorry, I grew up too Catholic to pronounce it that way! ūüėȬ† )

This is the Common Law principle on which is based the occasional English and successor Settler States (USA, Canada, Australia, I know for certain, maybe others) practice of deigning, that is to say condescending,¬†to let Aboriginal Peoples in “their” countries retain (I say retain) certain rights with regard to their “former” territories and their tribesmembers.¬† It’s the theoretical basis of Reservations, remnant fishing / trapping / hunting / subsistence rights, regard for Tribes’ Sovereignty (to attempt to put it into European terms), Native Treaties, Lands Held in Trust (including royalties [at 18th-century rates]…if only Uncle Sam can remember where he put them!), etc.

The alternative might well have had to be full military defeat, actually wiping out all our ancestors … genocide in its simplest, bloodiest¬†sense — I’ll say it — ala Hitler.¬† And I deduce that conundrum is where the idea came from, IOW, Settler convenience, politics, occasional conscience.¬† The earliest case I know of — though I’m no professional historian — where English courts upheld native legal status is only The Case of Tanistry in the early 1600s.¬† Here the Irish lost by winning (300 years before they won by losing!): the court employed traditional Irish Brehon Law to cheat a rightful traditional clan chief of his chiefly lands in favor of English-Law inheritance previously unknown among traditional Irish … four-and-a-half centuries after first invading.¬† My current point being, the English certainly have become experts at riding roughshod over Irish culture (which is why 1998’s Good Friday Northern Ireland Peace Agreement was such a monumental reversal for them).¬† I guess they didn’t always enjoy how hard it was, and so decided to take a (slightly) less harsh approach in Quebec and North America beyond (to the frustration of the greedy and anti-Catholic eastern seaboard “Founding Fathers”), and Down Under.¬† (In New Zealand, the Treaty of Waitangi is even considered technically part of the national constitution!)

Anyway, as Merriam Webster reminds us, a usufruct is Europeanly-considered technically only temporary — in our case, until the “death” of each Native Nation, envisaged by (unconstitutional) Blood Quantum laws, mandatory dispersion and exogamy, ethnic/racial cleansing, culturecide, divide-and-conquer, even leaving Tribes with the worst-quality land around on which to survive, as well as what I compare to illegal and unjust “constructive eviction” in attempting to claim a Native Community “abandoned” a temporarily-disused right or plot of land.*¬† Conveniently, the U.S. has never recognized Mixed-Bloods as such, as Canada has in its M√©tis since just 1982, otherwise Native Nations¬†might never die!

(*–The Settlers of Maryland Colony did this to my Nanticoke people.¬† Once they interpreted an Abandonment Clause in a colonial treaty to mean temporarily going up the Susquehanna River for their traditional annual hunt relinquished one of their Reservations: But when they arrived to find one elderly man guarding the otherwise-empty village, they burned him alive in his home.)

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