Settler colonialism and white settler responsibility in the Karuk, Konomihu, Shasta, and New River Shasta Homelands: a white unsettling manifesto

By Laura S. Hurwitz, from the Digital Commons @ Humboldt State University

Contributing to recent research into settler colonialism, this paper takes an on the ground look at how this system manifests today. This research turns its lens on the white settler, unmasks settler myths of innocence and contributes to an understanding of how whiteness and white supremacism shape settler colonialism in what is now called the United Sates. This is a placed based study, focusing on the Klamath and Salmon Rivers. Consequences and complexities of the “back to the land” movement are looked at, and the question of “back-to-whose-land?” is asked? A convivial research approach, which is a back and forth interplay of analysis and action, has been utilized for this project. Also examined are efforts by settlers to engage with unsettling, both as individuals and through a collective settler effort at organizing, under the name “Unsettling Klamath River.” Unsettling can be described as the work of white settlers within the broader movement to decolonize, that is led by Indigenous People. Some false narratives have begun to shift and yet, this population of white settlers remains largely in a state of paralysis due to; a fragile settler identity, a reliance on a false entitlement and a debilitating fear of what will happen if truth-telling occurs. Building upon lessons learned, this paper concludes by offering ways that white settlers can begin to chip away at oppressive structures and move forward out of a state of complicity into a sense of responsibility, that is long overdue.

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One response to “Settler colonialism and white settler responsibility in the Karuk, Konomihu, Shasta, and New River Shasta Homelands: a white unsettling manifesto

  1. Something that comes to my mind as i “chew on” what is being said here, is the idea that i suspect that many of those you label settlers (and who in fact, often DO have many not-fully-thought-out settler traits) are coming from trajectories that are much deeper than meets the eye. Such as coming from so-called “families” where authoritarianism is the norm. And seeking intuitive escape, somehow, with desires of liberation (but not remembering how). Thus we so often seek those frames of references (stumbled upon, usually) from “the exotic”, whether Far Eastern (i.e. Asian) or “Far Western” (west of the mississippi).

    And to seek to punish us further for this intuitive liberation seeking, to me, only feeds the hands of the authoritarians. You may have short-term feelings of “doing something” but what is the longterm benefit?

    i think you all will continue on this tact, and i think it has merit, and yet why not more of a “good injun, bad injun” approach?

    So the seemingly air-headed side of these people is a kind of symptom of we whom have experienced systematic, albeit more covert forms, of attack (i.e. psychological genocide, as the late John Trudell shared about whitened people). Some of you should be able to grasp this as you have “walked in both worlds”, i would think.

    If nothing else, maybe these sentiments can get “the ball rolling” further, ay?!

    in dariNg,
    i am chaz

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