Category Archives: colonialism

An Introduction to Settler Colonialism at UBC

UBC’s Alternative Student Press

This three-part series on settler colonialism is co-authored between two people: one who identifies as a michif (Métis) man from Saskatoon, the other who identifies as a racialized, non-Indigenous female settler. As co-authors, we are speaking from our own perspectives as an Indigenous person (Justin) and as a settler (Kay).

This series is informed through an anti-colonial, anti-racist, and intersectional feminist lens. We have tried to make it as accessible as possible, but fully acknowledge that we were not completely successful. We have attempted to frame it as a discussion as much as possible, and have embedded links for further learning and hope this can make the piece more accessible and informative. We hope this article can serve as an introduction to some important (and complicated) issues; in our opinion, an understanding of settler-colonialism, and our complicity in it, is essential to building a better future.

Part I | Part II | Part III

The Jewish Meaning of Columbus Day

A Jewish American reflects on Columbus Day, the legacy of settler-colonialism, and what it means for people of Jewish heritage

By Jordan Engel

In recent years, Columbus Day has become a day for many non-native Americans (let’s call them settlers) to reflect on their colonial legacy. As settlers in the Americas, we must bare some of the burden of decolonizing these lands, because the guilty parties in the genocide of American Indians over the past five centuries are not just the direct descendants of Indian-killers like Cortez, Custer, and Columbus. Decolonization is the responsibility of everyone alive today who lives on stolen lands, and as Jewish-Americans, we are not exempt.

Our people have a long and complicated history with this continent. We often fail to acknowledge, for example, that most of the Jews in the world, about 54 percent, live in North and South America – an area where 500 years ago, there were no Jews (ignoring, of course, wild theories that American Indians are one of the ten lost tribes of Israel).

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Unsettling settler colonialism

The discourse and politics of settlers, and solidarity with Indigenous nations

By Corey Snelgrove, Rita Dhamoon, Jeff Corntassel, Decolonization, Vol 3, No 2 (2014)

Our goal in this article is to intervene and disrupt current contentious debates regarding the predominant lines of inquiry bourgeoning in settler colonial studies, the use of ‘settler’, and the politics of building solidarities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Settler colonial studies, ‘settler’, and solidarity, then, operate as the central themes of this paper. While somewhat jarring, our assessment of the debates is interspersed with our discussions in their original form, as we seek to explore possible lines of solidarity, accountability, and relationality to one another and to decolonization struggles both locally and globally. Our overall conclusion is that without centering Indigenous peoples’ articulations, without deploying a relational approach to settler colonial power, and without paying attention to the conditions and contingency of settler colonialism, studies of settler colonialism and practices of solidarity run the risk of reifying (and possibly replicating) settler colonial as well as other modes of domination.

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On Settlers, Occupiers, and Warriors with Sakej Ward

Warriors and warrior societies have a sacred and powerful place in Indigenous culture and resistance. While colonial culture has and continues to undermine and deride the role and reality of Indigenous warriors, warrior societies have continued to form and function in order to resist the destructive and dangerous effects of occupation and settler-colonial culture. Sakej Ward sits down with Radio-BED for a conversation on the contemporary warrior and warrior societies, so leave your stereotypes at the door and pay attention. This is serious.

Decolonization Workshop – Unist’ot’en Camp 2014

Got Land? Thank an Indian

Karuk Ancestral Territory

Settler Colonialism and the White Settler in the Karuk Ancestral Territory

By Laura Hurwitz, Humboldt Journal of Social Relations (Issue #36, 2014) [PDF]

Abstract

From the time of European invasion of what now constitutes the United States, the settler colonial system has aimed to exterminate Indigenous Peoples and replace them with settlers on the land. While settler colonialism benefi ts the settler at the cost of the Indigenous, all life on Earth suffers from the continuation of this system. This research examines how white settlers living in the Karuk Ancestral Territory, located in Humboldt County, California, understand our role in the settler colonial system. The goal of this study is to begin a collective pursuit of a white settler ethic of accountability, which is a difficult task even in preliminary stages, as it requires the admission of being a beneficiary of and acco mplice to the vicious system of settler colonialism. This could bring about the loss of an already fragile identity and an insecure settler future. Yet settler society has a responsibility to face our role in the settler colonial system.

Introduction

This article is written from the perspective of a white settler. For nearly two decades, I have lived in the Karuk Ancestral Territory, situated on the Klamath River in Humboldt County, California. Many of the people currently living in this place, both Indigenous and settler alike, are interested in living a sustainable lifestyle and surviving amongst the environmental, social, political, and economic uncertainty of the times. Here some bridges have been built between Indigenous and non-Indigenous residents and a somewhat cordial coexistence exists; nevertheless, tensions do stem from a settler colonial system that benefits one group of people at the expense of another. The acute awareness among members of the Karuk tribe of displacement from their ancestral territory can be read on the T-shirt of one Karuk elder: “Got Land ? Thank an Indian!”

I came to live in the Karuk Ancestral Territory in search of a better life, one that was not destructive to, but rather more connected with land and life. I did not realize I was moving to a place where Indigenous Peoples had remained in their aboriginal territory and retained connection to their traditional way of life, in spite of European invasion. Neither had I considered that the neighborhood in which I grew up was also occupied Indigenous land. In fact, growing up, I largely thought a bout Native Americans as a “thing” of the past. I learned in school, on television, in movies, through the media, and from accepted social discourse that the original people of North America no longer existed. As a child, I had a thick cardboard book that depicted a ball, a book, and an “Indian” together on the “things” page . My indoctrination to view Indigenous Peoples as less than human began quite early. This is no accident, but rather part of the justification of the settler colonial system.

In the first section of this paper, I carry out a review of existing literature regarding settler colonialism, the settler, white privilege, and white supremacism. Next I discuss the methods used to conduct this research. Thirdly, I unpack white settler identity and how settlers comprehend their position within the settler colonial system, which manifests itself as a complicit settler subject in the Karuk Ancestral Territory. In the concluding segment, I outline some unsettling ideas and situate the white settler in the complicated conundrum within movements for decolonization.

This research seeks to find a starting place from which to collectively pursue a white settler ethic of accountability—a difficult task, even in preliminary stages, as it requires the admission of being a beneficiary of and an accomplice to the vicious system of settler colonialism, and could bring about the loss of an already fragile identity and an insecure settler future. Settler society has a responsibility to acknowledge our role in the settler colonial system.

Click here to read the full article [PDF]…

Big Day For The Struggle Against Ongoing Colonialism

Originally posted on Profane Existence:

by Comrade Black

Today has been a big day for those interested in or involved in Indigenous resistance and anti-colonial struggle. It is also a good reminder of how much work remains to be done.

In an interesting symbolic gesture, the city council of Vancouver voted to formally acknowledge that the land which the city is built on is stolen Indigenous lands that remain unceded. This means that no settlement or land treaties were ever made for the territories; and that the city council is now recognizing the Indigenous people have never given up their sovereignty to the land which Vancouver now occupies. In many respects while this move is only a symbolic gesture, many consider it an important first step down the road to ending colonialism. Yet the mayor of the city went out of his way to make it clear the gesture was entirely symbolic and “wouldn’t effect…

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Confronting Our Colonialism

This video was presented on the unceded territory of the Secwepemc Nation, at the Thompson Rivers University Undergrad Research Conference on March 28, 2014. This video was created for an assignment for an Anthropology class called “Canadian Status/Treaty Indian Reserve Communities.”

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Settler Colonialism Primer

decolonize inverse
By Laura Hurwitz & Shawn Bourque, Unsettling Klamath River Coyuntura

Colonialism and Settler Colonialism

Colonialism is a system that occupies and usurps labor/land/resources from one group of people for the benefit of another.  Colonialism is derived from the Latin word Colonia.  According to the Oxford English Dictionary, in the Roman Empire, “Colonia” was a “ farm,” “landed estate,” or “settlement” granted to Roman soldiers in hostile or newly conquered territories.

There are different types of colonial projects.  Exploitation colonialism involves a small amount of colonists whose main objective is to profit from the colonies resources and exploit Indigenous labor, usual exported to the metropole or “mother city” (think of the British in India).  Plantation colonies utilize a mix of exploitation and settler colonialism in different regions and areas.  In settler colonialism land, not labor, is key.  In this system, Indigenous Peoples are literally replaced by settlers. As Patrick Wolfe puts it:

Land is life—or, at least, land is necessary for life. Thus contests for land can be—indeed, often are—contests for life.

Indigenous Peoples are erased through out right genocide, assimilation and interbreeding (including rape).  In this process, racialized categories become important for perpetuating the system (see “Racial Formulation” section below).
Settlers are also different from other colonizers in that they are there to stay, unlike in other colonial systems where the colonizer returns to their home country after profiting.  Here, the land itself is the profit.  Another important concept in understanding this system is the idea that in settler colonialism, “invasion is a structure not an event.”  This means that settler colonialism is not just a vicious thing of the past, such as the gold rush, but exists as long as settlers are living on appropriated land and thus exists today.

Who is a Settler?

“There are no good settlers . . . There are no bad settlers . . . There are settlers.”
–Corey Snelgrove

Anyone not Indigenous, living in a settler colonial situation is a settler.  Therefore all non-Indigenous people living in what is today called the “U.S.” are settlers living on stolen land.  Settlers do not all benefit equally from settler colonialism.  Many people were brought to settler states as slaves, indentured servants, refugees, etc.  Race and class largely prefigure which settlers benefit the most from usurped Indigenous homelands.  But as the Unsettling Minnesota Source Book proclaims, “it is all of our responsibilities as settlers, especially those of us who descended from European colonizers, to challenge the systems of domination from which we benefit.”

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Inappropriation

Photo by Angela GzowskiEvery day, aboriginal culture is borrowed, copied, dressed up or watered down. Is that art? Or is it stealing? Appropriation, it turns out, is all about the attitude.

By Samia Madwar, Up Here

Last fall, two exhibits opened in Montreal, both centred on aboriginal themes. Beat Nation, a multimedia presentation by aboriginal artists who’d mixed hip-hop culture with their own iconography, opened at the Museum of Modern Art on October 16. The next day—purely by unfortunate coincidence—the Museum of Fine Arts boutique unveiled Inukt, a new product line featuring aboriginally-flavoured clothing, accessories and homewares.

Beat Nation was an unapologetic, boundary-crossing exploration of tradition and modernity, and largely a critical success. Inukt was a confused, haphazard jumble, and a public relations disaster.

Like its mock, made-up name, few of Inukt’s products bear any resemblance to Inuit art. This April, the website advertised everything from T-shirts and tote bags to throw pillows and arm-chairs, adorned with portraits of random Plains Indian chiefs, bought from an online stock image gallery. Other T-shirts feature west-coast imagery—though the items themselves have Anishinaabe names. And then there are the “Eskimo doll” key-chains, miniature versions of embarrassing kitsch holdovers from a less sensitive time, their survivors now scattered across dusty thrift store shelves around the country. “The cultural mishmash here hurts my head,” wrote Chelsea Vowel, a Montreal-based Métis blogger.

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