Something humans do quite well is conquer other cultures and annex resources. It’s been part of humanity for tens of thousands of years. Here in the US of A, we are such a young country we don’t have the historical experience or context to appreciate the long human history of conquer and annex.
Today is July 4, the day celebrated as “independence” where the US of A became a sovereignty by conquering and annexing British colonies. And ahead of US of A independence, the British, French, Portugese, Dutch (New Amsterdam), and Spanish had planted their flags and proceeded to conquer and annex each other on North America.
And speaking of the British, the modern British Isles saw a Roman conquest, and William of Orange, and Cromwell, and so on. After all that, Great Britain exists. Through conquest and annex.
Every continent has experienced this, from foreign invaders and from close neighbors. Heck, I speak French because my Tahitian mother is from Polynesie Français. I’m very certain Tahitians traditionally don’t speak French as a first language.
In New Mexico, some Spanish colonial families argue their land grants precede the United States and this gives these families dibs on the land. And the pueblos – conquered and annexed by the Spanish – lay claim because their occupancy precedes the Spanish. But, there is evidence even Native American cultures were the victims and beneficiaries of conquer and annex.
The Diné Nation in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah isn’t the first culture in the region. The Diné have a name for the culture here before them: The Anasazi, or The Ancient Ones. The Diné are closely related to a Native American culture in British Columbia and not to the Anasazi.
Is it morally justified, this conquer and annex? It’s a difficult question to ponder because conquer and annex is just part of humanity. It’s the reality played out over and over and over again.
The better question is how far back do we go to make reparations and try to set things right?
The United States is very young and many episodes of conquer and annex occured in North America well before we conquered and annexed the Thirteen Original Colonies. Being entirely righteous, it’s best to go all the way back to the first warring cultures who were conquering and annexing centuries before Europeans ever arrived in the New World. Start there and work our way forward, as one possible solution.
It’s not a popular idea, to admit humanity is driven by conquest of other cultures. Byzantine, Ottoman, Roman, British, Russian, Ming, Macedonian, Mongol, Spanish, Inca, Zulu, Holy Roman, Upper Egypt, Japan, Aztec, to name a few empires.
That conquest is so prevalent in human history is neither fair not unfair, just nor unjust, right nor wrong. It’s what we do. And how do humans settle the debate? Ultimately, it’s the culture of technological and economic superiority – and capable of maintaining ownership – that holds the final say.
Happy Independence Day!