This same point was really driven home to me by Lummi Nation a couple of years ago when DOE issued its proposal for clean up of the Whatcom Waterway. In discussing the cost/benefit analysis, it started since the time of colonization. The Lummis were upset that to white people (us), history began only at the moment they arrived. They demanded that the value of their treaty rights, prior to the degradation that then occurred, be considered as part of the cost/benefit analysis so that they could have this area restored to its precolonial status. Of course this was ignored.
But you know what? I do not think of myself as a racist, but I have to admit that until I read the Lummi objections, I did not think about the value of the land before it was colonized. And then I thought, “why would we stop at the Lummi Nation?” What about the value of the land to all the other native species that called this land home and have since been driven out? Did not their lives and their ability to live in healthy habitat have value as well? Why does the cost/benefit analysis consider things only from a white colonialist perspective, and what does that really say about us?
We view ourselves as conquerors, and what do all conquerors need? GUNS. Perhaps when we learn to treat other cultures and other species, indeed all living things on this planet, as equals with whom we share this earth, we will be ready to put down our weapons and our fantasies of dominance and control.