It was not until 1948 that a majority of the nations agreed upon a universal definition of genocide. This highly contested wording was not ratified by the United States until November of 1988, forty years after The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide had been agreed to by world leaders. By the standards of this Convention historical policies of the United States and of its settler population toward indigenous Americans would meet these criteria, and Native Americans have indeed suffered genocide across the North American continent.
" any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group " including:
1. (a) Killing members of the group;
2. (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
3. (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
4. (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
5. (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group (United Nations).
All five of these criminal acts were perpetrated on native tribes and bands across the United States. Each native tribe or band could be considered a "group" by this standard, and sufficient historical evidence exists to demonstrate intent to destroy on the part of settlers, state governments and the United States federal government. Additionally, the government of Mexico paid bounties for the scalps of Indian men, women and children that were collected by white U.S. settlers as an employment option (Molinaro).
These atrocities were part of a concerted effort to appropriate the lands and to relocate the native inhabitants forcibly. As illustrated in President Andrew Jackson's 1830 State of the Union Address:
The tribes which occupied the countries now constituting the Eastern States were annihilated or have melted away to make room for the whites.
Jackson absurdly claimed that, "Toward the aborigines of the country no one can indulge a more friendly feeling than myself," even as he went on to describe a continuance of this same policy to seize the lands and to forcibly relocate the native tribes:
" we now propose to acquire the countries occupied by the red men of the South and West by a fair exchange "
This policy drove the genocide, and it was the core reason for the countless slaughters, the incalculable suffering, and the monumental crimes that followed.
Reports of hunting and then beheading or scalping native men, women and children for bounties exist even locally here in Northern California.