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Cattle ColonialismAn Environmental History of the Conquest of California and Hawai'i$
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John Ryan Fischer

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781469625126

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469625126.001.0001

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(p.165) Chapter Six Property
Cattle Colonialism

John Ryan Fischer

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter examines how this changing political context and enhanced economic value of livestock in the Pacific translated into new systems of land tenure. Rancheros in California called for an end to the mission system, as the missionaries’ herds competed with their own. In 1834, the Mexican government secularized the mission lands with the claimed intention of their redistribution among the Indian converts. A few Indian ranches thrived for a brief time; however, most of the mission lands found their way into the hands of Mexican rancheros and the increasingly numerous Anglo-American immigrants. Until 1849, the Hawaiian royal family and nobility controlled Hawaiian land. In 1849, under foreign pressure, Hawaiʻi instituted a land reform called the Great Māhele. The Māhele allowed Hawaiian commoners access to land ownership, but after 1850 it also allowed foreigners to purchase Hawaiian lands. Europeans and Americans with herds of cattle soon established large ranches on several of the islands. These parallel land reforms served as an important turning point in Euro-American imperial projects in the Pacific, as the expression of Euro-American power during land reforms concentrated land in the hands of colonial powers and closed off many avenues of native profit from cattle.

Keywords:   Land reform, California mission secularization, the Great Māhele, Parker Ranch, Ranching, Ecological imperialism

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