Colonial Genocide in Indigenous North America

Colonial Genocide in Indigenous North America

Book Pages: 360 Illustrations: 13 illustrations Published: October 2014

History > U.S. History, Law > Human Rights, Native and Indigenous Studies

This important collection of essays expands the geographic, demographic, and analytic scope of the term genocide to encompass the effects of colonialism and settler colonialism in North America. Colonists made multiple and interconnected attempts to destroy Indigenous peoples as groups. The contributors examine these efforts through the lens of genocide. Considering some of the most destructive aspects of the colonization and subsequent settlement of North America, several essays address Indigenous boarding school systems imposed by both the Canadian and U.S. governments in attempts to "civilize" or "assimilate" Indigenous children. Contributors examine some of the most egregious assaults on Indigenous peoples and the natural environment, including massacres, land appropriation, the spread of disease, the near-extinction of the buffalo, and forced political restructuring of Indigenous communities. Assessing the record of these appalling events, the contributors maintain that North Americans must reckon with colonial and settler colonial attempts to annihilate Indigenous peoples.

Contributors. Jeff Benvenuto, Robbie Ethridge, Theodore Fontaine, Joseph P. Gone, Alexander Laban Hinton, Tasha Hubbard, Margaret D. Jabobs, Kiera L. Ladner, Tricia E. Logan, David B. MacDonald, Benjamin Madley, Jeremy Patzer, Julia Peristerakis, Christopher Powell, Colin Samson, Gray H. Whaley, Andrew Woolford


“This is a welcome addition to the ongoing discussions in the increasingly sophisticated literature that explores the applicability, extent, and lasting significance of genocide in North America….  The editors deserve praise for the comparative dimensions of the volume, which look across time and space in North America and rightly anchor their project in the emerging field of critical genocide studies…. Highly recommended.” — C. R. King, Choice

"Colonial Genocide in Indigenous North America is a welcome revision of the long history of colonialism in North America... [It] could be used in undergraduate history courses to great effect."  — Garrett W. Wright, The History Teacher

“This volume provides a wide ranging perspective on current research and ongoing debates regarding colonial genocide in North America – highlighting a great diversity of approaches and conclusions and demonstrating the courage of those within the field to push the limits of prevailing understandings. The volume is all the more valuable for its inclusion of the research and findings of Indigenous scholars.” — Kerry A. Bailey, Ethnic and Racial Studies

 "A book that critically interrogates the very concept of genocide…" — Tony Barta, Settler Colonial Studies

“In challenging fellow scholars, indigenous communities and wider society with the question of what genocide is, the contributors to this important collection have done a great service, presenting new ways of conceptualizing and perhaps reconciling our collective and often dark past with what could be a brighter future together.” — James Daschuk, Journal of Colonialism & Colonial History

"Colonial Genocide in Indigenous North America offers powerful and profound insights into the widespread and abundant abuse of genocide by European colonists and American and Canadian citizens and their governments toward indigenous peoples." — Joel R. Hyer, Western Historical Quarterly

"For anyone curious about the true impact of Manifest Destiny, colonial expansionism, and settler societies, this book will open eyes and introduce an often-ignored reality.... This timely and valuable contribution  will undoubtedly inform these debates and add  to our understanding of the ways in which the destructive and often genocidal colonial practices and policies impacted the Indigenous populations of Canada and the United States."  — Stefanie Kunze, Canadian Journal of Native Studies

"What a timely anthology!... Such a survey is useful both for scholars who are fully engaged in genocide studies already and for those who want to consider how the field may apply to their research. More broadly, this volume could be a great benefit to scholars of genocide from outside North America who are looking for an up-to-date overview of the field for comparative purposes."  — Brenden W. Rensink, Ethnohistory

"This tightly packed anthology not only reviews the contemporary issues of and positions on colonial genocide in North America, but stands as a wedge of discourse around the histories and interpretations of group destruction as part of the civilizing project.... Woolford, Benvenuto, and Hinton’s collection serves to challenge the so-called Pax Americana of peaceful assimilation in a not quite post-colonial North America."  — Christopher Davey, Genocide Studies and Prevention

"Colonial Genocide in Indigenous North America contributes to a growing chorus of indigenous scholars, genocide analysts, and Native leaders who are bringing this most important topic into greater clarity, and makes an excellent resource for academics and university courses to launch that discussion. I encourage you to read and utilize the work, continuing the rise of indigenous voices about genocide." — James V. Fenelon, American Indian Culture and Research Journal

"The volume will be useful to scholars and others who wish to broaden their knowledge of Native American history and genocide.... Topics and how they are addressed will enlighten anyone as to broad, far-reaching issues associated with genocide and reasons scholars might or might not use it to conceptualize American Indian history." — Russell Thornton, Reviews in American History

"Colonial Genocide in Indigenous North America is sure to become a crucial tool for furthering discussions of genocide as Canada confronts its dark past." — Karen Bridget Murray, Canadian Journal of History

"[T]his excellent volume represents a timely intervention into a concept that North American scholars have largely avoided." — Michael Hughes, Pacific Historical Review

"This book deserves consideration by all historians whose work touches even tangentially on indigenous peoples and by those interested in genocide globally. Whether readers are skeptical of the term’s relevance in North America, or are engaged in debates not over if but how and when the term is deserved, this book merits their attention." — Paige Raibmon, Journal of American History

"Colonial Genocide in Indigenous North America is one of the best anthologies I have read in the field of American Indian and Indigenous studies. Within North American history, few have seriously tackled the central question of this anthology: to what extent were Indigenous-settler relations genocidal? The failure of U.S. and Canadian scholars to address this question in a deep and sustained way makes this insightful collection particularly timely and important." — Ned Blackhawk, author of Violence over the Land: Indians and Empires in the Early American West

"The field of genocide studies is finally waking up to the colonial dimensions of genocide, both in terms of Lemkin's own ground-breaking work and now more broadly in the work of numerous contemporary scholars. This excellent collection deals head on with the often neglected, or intentionally ignored, cases of colonial genocides in North America, and for that reason alone it will make a significant contribution to the field of genocide studies. Moreover, the quality of individual contributions will ensure this key text sets the standard for many years to come." — Damien Short, author of Reconciliation and Colonial Power: Indigenous Rights in Australia


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Andrew Woolford is Professor of Sociology and Criminology and Social Justice Research Coordinator at the University of Manitoba.

Jeff Benvenuto is a Ph.D. student in the Division of Global Affairs at Rutgers University, Newark.

Alexander Laban Hinton is the Director of the Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights, Professor of Anthropology and Global Affairs, and the UNESCO Chair on Genocide Prevention at Rutgers University, Newark.

Theodore Fontaine is the author of Broken Circle: The Dark Legacy of Indian Residential Schools: A Memoir.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Foreword / Theodore Fontaine vii

Introduction. Colonial Genocide in Indigenous North America / Jeff Benvenuto, Andrew Woolford, and Alexander Laban Hinton 1

Part I. Intersections and Trajectories

1. Discipline, Territory, and the Colonial Mesh: Indigenous Boarding Schools in the United States and Canada / Andrew Woolford 29

2. Global Capital, Violence, and the Making of a Colonial Shatter Zone / Robbie Ethridge 49

3. Genocide in Canada: A Relational View / Christopher Powell and Julia Peristerakis 70

Part II. Erasure and Legibility

4. California and Oregon's Modoc Indians: How Indigenous Resistance Camouflages Genocide in Colonial Histories / Benjamin Madley 95

6. Memory, Erasure, and National Myth / Tricia E. Logan 149

7. Residential School Harm and Colonial Dispossession: What's the Connection? / Jeremy Patzer 166

Part III. Transformations

8. The Habit of Elimination: Indigenous Child Removal in Settler Colonial Nations in the Twentieth Century / Margaret D. Jacobs 189

9. Revisiting Choctaw Ethnocide and Ethnogenesis: The Creative Destruction of Colonial Genocide / Jeff Benvenuto 208

10. Political Genocide: Killing Nations through Legislation and Slow-Moving Poison / Kiera L. Ladner 226

11. Dispossession and Canadian Land Claims: Genocidal Implications of the Innu Nation Land Claim / Colin Samson 246

Part IV. (Re)Imaginings

12. Colonial Genocide and Historical Trauma in Native North America: Complicating Contemporary Attributions / Joseph P. Gone 273

13. Buffalo Genocide in Nineteenth-Century North America: "Kill, Skin, and Sell" / Tasha Hubbard 292

14. Genocide in the Indian Residential Schools: Canadian History through the Lens of the UN Genocide Convention / David B. MacDonald 306

Afterword. Colonial Genocide and Indigenous North America: A View from Critical Genocide Studies / Alexander Laban Hinton 325

Contributors 333

Index 339

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5779-7 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5763-6
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