Keith's question (see the end of the previous posting) is worth considering: "is it imaginable that North America should have remained lightly populated by native Americans while much of the rest of the world was overwhelmed?" What about the wide open spaces of this country in 1500?
My friend and fellow church member Chris Thompson, an ardent advocate of Native American rights and founder of Project Warm Embrace, posted passionate comments in response to what I wrote and Keith's comments. He questioned the accuracy of "lightly populated." According to the Smithsonian's Handbook of North American Indians, though, the population in 1500 of what became North America was under two million. Some think it was probably much larger; one Native American advocate estimates it around six million.
Even with the larger number, that was still a very small population for an area that now supports more than three hundred million people. But how many people could be supported if everyone still lived according to the lifestyle of the Native Americans? (I am indebted to Keith for causing me to think about this several years ago.)
Perhaps it was legitimate for Europeans to come to the wide open spaces of the New World. (Do some people have the "ownership" of land in perpetuity just because of where they were born?) Perhaps it was necessary for the survival of the human race (and I don't mean just Europeans) for new lands to be found and developed for swelling populations. (Most migrations, as well as perhaps most wars, have been due primarily to population pressures.)
So while I cannot completely censure the migration of Europeans to what became North America, I do deplore the villainous treatment of the native people here. The Europeans may have had the right to come and even to settle in these wide open spaces, but they did not have the right to steal the land from the people living on it. And certainly they did not have the right to kill at will the people who lived here.
There were some, thankfully, who did seek to deal fairly and kindly with the Native Americas. One such person is Roger Williams (1603-83), one of my heroes. Although a pastor, he was exiled from the Massachusetts Bay Colony, partly because of his insistence that the "Indians" should be compensated for their land. English colonization, Williams argued, was "a sin of unjust usurpation upon others' possessions." Christian kings somehow believed that they were invested with the right, by virtue of their Christianity, "to take and give away the Lands and Countries of other men." Williams thought that was nonsense, absurdity! (See Edwin S. Gaustad, Roger Williams: Prophet of Liberty , p. 17.)
Treatment of the Native Americans in the manner of Roger Williams is the way things might have played out in a more nearly perfect world.