Thus, what occurred during the four centuries of European conquest in the Americas merely extended the continuum of history into a new arena. The successes of these new arrivals and their descendants, consistent with the historical tendencies in human behavior, came at the expense of people whose kinship-based tribal system still operated on communitarian, if exclusive, principles. Only the tribes of the southern hemisphere had become fully settled and had entered into their own era of empire-building. Unfortunately for their survival, the European people had achieved both technological and organizational superiority as these characteristics applied to the art of warfare. The tribes of the southern hemisphere had numbers in their favor but had no time to adopt European weaponry or strategy. In North America, the tribes gained considerable access to modern weapons and were more flexible in their strategies. The two most important advantages the European-Americans possessed in the north was the endless stream of migration that more than replaced the population lost during warfare, and a production system centered in large and relatively secure population centers.
While the contribution made by the indigenous American tribes to the advance of civilization remains little appreciated, their true nature is often romanticized and the harsh aspects of their societal structure down played or ignored. They neither championed a human rights doctrine nor lived by principles we would recognize as inherently just. They were territorial and monopolistic in behavior where the earth was concerned, even when communitarian within their own tribal group. Too late, they finally realized the full danger presented by the Europeans. Unwittingly, the indigenous tribes of the Americas became mere pawns in a struggle for hegemonic power that began centuries before and an ocean away. Even with independence from Britain, the European-Americans had no possibility of escaping the politics of the Old World. Alexander Hamilton correctly assessed that the new Union remained at risk so long as the nation remained a peripheral power whose borders were long and unsecured. For just these reasons Hamilton had supported the terms of peace negotiated by John Jay with Britain, writing under the pseudonym Camillus:
A very powerful state may frequently hazard a high and haughty tone with good policy; but a weak state can scarcely ever do it without imprudence. The last is yet our character.
America's indigenous people had been unable to pull together against the common threat. Less than twenty years after the framing of a new government by the European-Americans, even the great Shawnee warrior Tecumseh understood the fate his people could look forward to. Knowing that he would soon be killed in battle, Tecumseh urged his closest supporters to follow a very different path:
Our cause is done. After tomorrow, when I am gone, return to your own people at once. No longer raise your weapons against the Americans; it can only end in disaster for you and all your people. Make peace with them and in all ways possible, live in harmony with them. Help them in any way you can; be loyal to them in all ways; defend them against their enemies if need be, even should those enemies be other Indians, for, hear me, my brothers, the Indians can never win against the Americans. Join them, that you and your people may survive.
The descendants of these survivors relinquished control over their territories, while becoming subjects rather than citizens of the new nation. Their numbers continued to fall during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries but have rebounded to nearly a million today. As the institutional structure of the State has come under increasing scrutiny and pressure from people organized on behalf of transnational principles of justice, manipulation of positive law by the privileged few has become more difficult. In the United States and Canada, particularly, the people of America's indigenous tribes are gradually obtaining the rights of citizenship ostensibly sanctioned by positive law. Still at issue, however, is the question of the territorial and political sovereignty forcibly taken from their ancestors.
Political economy and the transnational principles of cooperative-individualism lead us to a conclusion that is, as nearly so as reason dictates, self-evident; namely, that all claims of territorial sovereignty violate the doctrine of human rights. Neither first occupancy, conquest nor purchase legitimize any claims to territorial sovereignty. The earth is, must be, the birthright of all individuals, equally in order to guarantee equality of opportunity. Monopolistic control of any portion of the earth by any tribe or other group violates this essential principle of justice. At best, the nation-state and the establishment of territorial borders is an administrative expediency. In reality, borders represent attempts by the few to deny access to natural resources and living space to others. The history of the people who struggled for control over one, relatively small island off the Atlantic coast of continental Europe graphically demonstrates this principle.