The Other Side of the Frontier: Economic Explorations into Native American History

By Linda Barrington | Go to book overview

whites were living a relatively peaceful coexistence, however, Indian nations were at war with one another. The arrival of the horse from the south gave the Apache and Comanche first access to the new form of transportation and superior military strength. Until the other tribes recognized the superiority that the horse afforded its owners or until they got their own horses, there was little peace. Because the horse also turned sedentary tribes into nomads pursuing buffalo, conflict between Indian nations not unlike that between Indians and whites was inevitable. More research on such conflicts is likely to confirm the power of political economy models in explaining the interface between the Coasian and Machiavellian worlds.


Notes

This chapter is an adaptation of Anderson 1994, where readers will find a fuller treatment of the subject discussed here. Reprinted with permission of The Journal of Law and Economics.

1
See also Anderson and Hill 1979; McGrath 1984; and Russell 1973 for similar conclusions.
2
It is assumed initially that collective decisions regarding Indian-white disputes were made within each group to maximize total group welfare; public choice matters involving special-interest decisions were introduced later.
3
Indians might give the land to whites to establish their colonies if the subsequent gains from trade in goods and services other than land were expected to be sufficiently great.
4
War's gains and losses depend in part on the other side's ability to organize. With zero transaction costs, military coalitions can form instantaneously, and there will be no differential in the gains to either side from forming a coalition. With positive organization costs, however, there will be higher gains from using violence for the side with lower costs.
5
This implication has parallels in the settlement-litigation literature: Litigation will be chosen more frequently when court costs can be shifted from one party to another.
6
The true extent of both fighting and negotiation are understated in Table 8.1 because the table includes only battles with government forces (militia, army) and only agreements with the U.S. government.
7
For a discussion of the unusually faulty information given Custer as to the Indians' strength, see Connell 1988, 263-264.
8
Better technology would make whites more eager to fight, but Indians would become less eager. Indians would simply concede greater numbers of land appropriations by whites without fighting or accept worse terms of trade in negotiation. Thus the effect of better technology on the total amount of warfare is unpredictable, a priori.
9
Data on deaths per battle are available for the period 1850 to 1891. Dividing the data set in half shows that the ratio falls from 2.34 in the first half of the period to 0.519 in the second half. The difference, however, is not statistically significant (t =

-221-

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