Fiduciary Colonialism: Annuities and Native Dispossession in the Early United States.

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  • Author(s): Connolly, Emilie (AUTHOR)
  • Source:
    American Historical Review. Mar2022, Vol. 127 Issue 1, p223-253. 31p.
  • Additional Information
    • Subject Terms:
    • Abstract:
      Federal officials in the early United States built an empire by purchase. But rather than hand over lump sums for Native lands, officials offered annual payments, or annuities. This article traces annuities' material evolution from payments in goods to high-powered money—especially specie—and their financial evolution from straightforward congressional outlays to interest accrued on investments held in trust. Annuities originated as devices that could permit territorial expansion within considerable military-fiscal constraints. But once in use, they became potent instruments of federal power, shoring up officials' capacity to intrude on Native economies, wrench further territorial transfers, and channel Indigenous wealth as capital for the very infrastructural projects that spread US settlement. Overall, annuities and the trust funds into which they evolved anchored a strategy of dispossession I call fiduciary colonialism: a mode of territorial acquisition and population management carried out through the expansion of administrative control over Native peoples' wealth. In the face of federal claims to financial superiority, Indigenous peoples did not wither into wardship. Rather, they engaged trusteeship with their own futures in mind, applying annuities and trusts toward social institutions that would allow their nations to survive the ordeal of dispossession. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
    • Abstract:
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