Repatriation of Land to Tribes

My second novel, The Inheritance, deals with repatriation of land that was stolen from Indigenous peoples. The novel traces my own experience of uncovering the history of an inheritance, finding that it originated in my great-grandparents homesteading land from which the Utes had been expelled. My great-grandparents sold the homestead and bought land in Steamboat […]

Returning What was Stolen

On September 24, 2017, I returned to the Ute Nation money I had inherited derived from the sale of a homestead on the Utes’ homeland in the Yampa Valley of Colorado immediately after the Utes had been expelled. How did I trace my inheritance to the Utes’ loss of land? Why did I frame the […]

Theft of Indigenous Peoples’ Land

In a recent article I wrote about ancestors who, in different states and at different times, acquired land very cheaply from the state rather than from a specific person, and my realization that they had profited directly from the U.S. government’s theft of Indigenous peoples’ land. On two occasions in the last month, I have been asked how […]

Wars, Indigenous Peoples, and Bounty Land Warrants

Today being Indigenous People’s Day (known to many as Columbus Day), it is fitting to look critically at one of the historic processes in U.S. history that served to transfer Indigenous people’s land to whites. Bounty land warrants constituted a form of “thanks” for service in military campaigns that extended white control over North America. […]

Racism, Inheritance and Family Financial Aid

“I didn’t own slaves, why should I feel guilty?” is a common response of White people to hearing about racism today. This response regards slavery and theft of Indigenous peoples’ land as so ancient that paying attention to them today only invites anger and guilt. But I will show how racial privilege is a living […]

Wills and Inherited Wealth

Did you know that as much as 80% of family wealth in the United States comes from inherited wealth? That is the conclusion Carole Shammas, Marylynn Salmon and Michael Dahlin (1997) reached in their book Inheritance in America, published by Rutgers University Press. Family wealth can be passed on either before or after parents’ or […]

Women and Property Rights

My puzzlement about serial marriages of a woman ancestor who lived in Arkansas during the 1800s eventually led me to look into women and property rights. She married three times, her second marriage being to my direct ancestor. The second and third marriages immediately followed the deaths of her first, then second husband. Each marriage produced […]

Property Records

What property did your ancestors own? Who (or what entity, such as a state) did they acquire it from? Where was it?  If land, how many acres was it and how did they acquire it? These are fascinating questions to pursue, especially if you are interested in tracing how land has been distributed, and who […]