Latino Studies Indigeneity
by
Arturo Aldama, Clint Carroll, Natasha Myhal, Luz Ruiz, Maria Ruiz-Martinez
  • LAST MODIFIED: 24 June 2020
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199913701-0145

Introduction

Issues of indigeneity, along with mestizaje—racial and cultural mixtures of African, indigenous, and Spanish ancestries and cultures that came as a result of the European colonization of the Americas—are core aspects of Chicana and Chicano and Latina and Latino identities, histories, and cultures. For Chicanas and Chicanos, understandings of indigeneity have shifted significantly since the early 1960s. During that time, tropes of cultural nationalism argued that all Mexican-origin people were descendants of the Aztecs, and that Aztlán—what many believed to be the conquered homelands of their Aztec ancestors encompassing the Four Corners region of the United States (Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona)—should be reclaimed. Today, a more nuanced understanding of Latinx/Chicanx indigeneity considers, for example, the complex politics of indigenous subjects migrating to settler colonial nation-states such as the United States, and the resulting negotiations of language and identity in this transnational space. Scholars of decolonial studies have added to this nuance by analyzing systems of heteropatriarchy (and the resulting gender binaries and practices of toxic masculinity) imposed through colonization and reinforced by such institutions as the Catholic Church. The editors seek to assemble and summarize key sources that speak to how indigeneity works within the transnational and transborder archives of colonization. This includes the differentiated ways that nation-states in the Americas have engaged with their indigenous pasts (including the sociopolitical and legal definitions of and practices toward indigenous communities and nations within the nation-state), as well as indigenous-led revitalization and sovereignty movements that envision decolonial futures. The goals of this bibliographic overview are to provide scholars interested in indigeneity in the Latinx context with key sources specific to Latinx communities and histories, while also considering important works that are grounded in Latin American, US, and Canadian indigenous contexts and histories. This bibliography thus invites scholars to explore the legal, political, social, and historical differences and similarities of indigeneity across hemispheric geographies. By juxtaposing the radical feminism of Gloria Anzaldúa (writing from the US-Mexico borderlands) with the decolonial visions of Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg scholar Leanne Simpson (writing from her Canadian First Nation) the disjunctures and commonalities of indigeneity and decolonial thought are highlighted. The bibliography also include some key texts on indigeneity in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, and Bolivia that discuss places where the majority populations are mestiza/o and indigenous, and yet most indigenous communities, many whose first language is not Spanish, live in varying degrees of dispossession, poverty, and racial marginalization. The bibliography also invites scholars to consider Afro-Indigenous identities and community struggles in hemispheric frames.

Foundational Readings in Chicanx Studies on Indigeneity in the US-Mexico Borderlands

In the context of Chicana and Chicano studies (Chicanx studies), some foundational and early texts that discuss the importance of Aztlán as the ancestral homeland of Mexican-origin people in what is now the Southwest of the United States include Forbes 1973 and Anaya and Lomelí 1989, as well as more recent work that continues to valorize Aztlán as not necessarily the ancestral homeland of the Aztec civilization that inspired cultural nationalist ideas of the 1960s, but, in the case of Miner 2014, as a space of indigeneity and resistance and creativity. In addition, Moraga 1993 reframes the idea of Aztlán as a unifying community-building trope that honors women and LGBT members of the Chicanx tribe in the Southwest and beyond. Some early Chicanx women’s scholarship engaged with discourses prompted by Octavio Paz (see Paz 1962), particularly through the figure of La Malinche or Malintzin Tenepal, who takes on the role of “mother” of a conquered peoples, or a Mexican “Eve” who is to blame for the genocide and violence inflicted at the time of Spanish conquest. These arguably misogynistic discourses extend into the Mexican nation-state and are promoted and imbricated into ideas of national identities where mestiz@ peoples are vulgarly seen as hijos de la chingada (children of the screwed one, referring back to Malintzin Tenepal birthing famed Hernán Cortés’s children). For a more nuanced understanding of Malintzin Tenepal that challenges the patriarchal logics of Paz, see the early foundational essay del Castillo 1978 and the more recent Townsend 2015. Contreras 2008 looks at how indigenous tropes drive cultural nationalist ideas, texts, and practices, and the relationship between indigenismo in Mexico and indigeneity not tied to the state-driven practice of trying to reify and document the Mesoamerican past.

  • Anaya, Rudolfo A., and Francisco A. Lomelí. Aztlán: Essays on the Chicano Homeland. Albuquerque, NM: Academia/El Norte Publications, 1989.

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    This volume offers twelve essays exploring the legend of Aztlán and the achievements of the Chicano movement in its earliest years. The essays illuminate the conception of a Chicano homeland with particular reference to its history, literature, myth, and anthropology.

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  • Contreras, Sheila Marie. Blood Lines: Myth, Indigenism, and Chicana/o Literature. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2008.

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    Contreras offers an authoritative analysis of various texts that have shaped the ethnographic and poetic discourses influencing Chicana/o nationalism and feminism as they relate to their indigenous descent. In doing so, the author undertakes an exploration of Chicana/o indigenism by problematizing traditions of Mexican indigenism and European primitivism. A new understanding of the resilience of indigeneity in the Mexican borderlands challenges established cultural perspectives of the “native.”

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  • Del Castillo, Adelaida R. Ed. “Malintzin Tenepal: A Preliminary Look into a New Perspective.” Essays on La Mujer, Edited by Rosaura Sanchez and Rosa Martinez Cruz, 124–149. Los Angeles: University of California, Chicano Studies Center, 1978.

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    This is the first archival based essay that presents a much more nuanced and complex representation and account of Malintzin Tenepal and her willingness to mediate the arrival of Spain with the growing Aztec nation-state. It is also notable in how it looks at sources within Aztec history to ground Malintzin Tenepal’s feminist agency within the specific religious and cultural context of how indigenous communities where responding to the demands of the Aztec nation-state at the time of Hernan Cortés arrival into Mexico in 1519. An arrival that that coincided with a prophecy of the return of Quetzalcoatl.

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  • Forbes, Jack. Aztecas del Norte: The Chicanos of Aztlan. Greenwich, CT: Fawcett, 1973.

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    This foundational book argues that Chicanos are part of the indigenous citizenry of what is now the US Southwest and argues that Chicanos are descendants of maíz (corn) cultures and are connected to indigenous communities in Mexico and the United States. Forbes argues that the term mestizo (mixed) is a colonial term and does not reflect the indigeneity of people of Mexican descent as original Anishinabe people.

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  • Miner, Dylan A. T. Creating Aztlán: Chicano Art, Indigenous Sovereignty, and Lowriding across Turtle Island. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2014.

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    Using the metaphor and practice of “lowriding,” a core aspect of Chicano car culture and histories, Miner excavates understandings of Aztlán from Mesoamerican codices, colonization, the Chicano movement of the 1960s, and into more recent times. Miner considers how indigeneity travels from the US-Mexico border areas to Canada by examining a range of artists that produce work from what he terms “indigenous cultural objects” to public murals.

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  • Moraga, Cherrie. “Queer Aztlán: The Re-formation of Chicano Tribe.” In The Last Generation: Prose and Poetry. By Cherrie Moraga, 145–174. Boston: South End Press, 1993.

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    In this interdisciplinary essay, Moraga offers a reimagined “Chicano tribe” that authentically encompasses the intersections of nation, race, gender, and sexuality in what she calls “Queer Aztlán.” By producing a comparative, historical, and contemporary examination of the strengths and drawbacks of past movements, she expands the possibilities for effecting real political change.

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  • Paz, Octavio. The Labyrinth of Solitude: Life and Thought in Mexico. New York: Grove Press, 1962.

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    Paz’s influential book-length essay is concerned with Mexican identity, arguing that Mexicans who are a part of two distinct cultures, the Spanish and the indigenous, have for the most part denied the indigenous to become stuck in a world of solitude. This solitude, according to Paz, maintains Mexicans in a state of oscillation between violent resentment and passivity.

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  • Townsend, Camilla. Malintzin: Una mujer indígena en la Conquista De México. Mexico City: Ediciones Era, 2015.

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    Using an ethnohistorical approach to the study of Malintzin, or “La Malinche,” Townsend provides a recollection of her life and context using 16th-century documentation. This work is an examplar of the growing feminist scholarship that explores women’s agency and reinterpretation of history

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Indigeneity, Gender, and Latinx Feminism

Foundational texts that discuss the intersectional politics of identity and the decolonization practices to honor gender and challenge misogyny and patriarchy in Chicana identity include Anzaldúa and Keating 2015 and Alarcón1990. More recent work that continues to reinscribe indigeneity that empowers women and queer-identified subjects of Mexican descent include Gaspar de Alba 2014 and Gaspar de Alba and López 2011, which discusses how the representations of the Virgen de Guadalupe/Tonatzin empower women, queerness, sexuality, and female agency, and also challenge patriarchal canons. Likewise, Anzaldúa and Keating 2015 continues the decolonial gender politics of the foundational Borderlands/La Frontera. For an edited volume that discusses indigeneity, decolonial performance studies, gender, and sexuality, see Aldama, et al. 2012. There is also a growing critique of how some Chicana feminist scholarship does not fully consider contemporary indigenous subjectivities from Mexico; see Alberto 2017, Saldaña-Portillo 2001, and Cotera and Saldaña-Portillo 2015. To encourage scholars to learn about indigeneity and gender in Mexico, Guatemala, and Latin America, this section also includes sources that speak to indigenous feminisms in Latin America (Hernández Castillo 2010), and contemporary indigenous women’s activism in a diasporic context (Blackwell, et al. 2017). In addition, the section highlights the work of Estrada 2017 and how their work on transgender or two-spirit gender indigenous identities can complement the growing body of work in US and Canadian contexts on decolonization and queer indigeneity, as discussed in the later section US and Canada: Identity, Race, Gender, and Sexuality. For work that is specific to Mayan women’s agency and activism in Guatemala and Mayan women in the Zapatista indigenous rights movement in Mexico, see the section Indigeneity in Latin America (Abiayala).

  • Alarcón, Norma. “Chicana Feminism: In the Tracks of ‘The’ Native Woman.” Cultural Studies 4.3 (1990): 248–256.

    DOI: 10.1080/09502389000490201Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Alarcón elucidates how discourses produce Chicana subjectivity. In this critical work, she conceptualizes how the production of subjects is entirely through discourse, and furthers knowledge of the contradictory ways different discourses produce women of color. Alarcón gives special attention to the invocation and recodification of indigenous figures to illuminate how their effects operate to construct good and evil.

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  • Alberto, Lourdes. “Coming Out as Indian: On Being an Indigenous Latina in the US.” Latino Studies 15.2 (2017): 247–253.

    DOI: 10.1057/s41276-017-0058-ySave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Grounded in her childhood memory of “coming out” as Indian, Alberto makes a critical intervention in Latinx studies. Her reflections as a Zapotec scholar provide incisive insights into how Mexican indigeneity is often violently misread with settler grammars.

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  • Aldama, Arturo J., Chela Sandoval, and Peter J. García, eds. Performing the US Latina and Latino Borderlands. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2012.

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    This volume explores the intersections of performance studies with Latinx studies, through a “de-colonizing performatics” methodology that seeks to identify egalitarian, humanity, and happiness-seeking practices within indigenous/Chican@/Latin@/African@ mestizaje. Dealing with themes of indigeneity, place, gender, race, class, and coloniality in music, theater, film, danzas, and ceremonies, from Cholo style to Mexican hip-hop, readers are invited to experience the politics of performance enacted in subaltern border spaces.

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  • Anzaldúa, Gloria, and AnaLouise Keating. Light in the Dark/Luz en lo oscuro: Rewriting Identity, Spirituality, Reality. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015.

    DOI: 10.1215/9780822375036Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    In Light in the Dark, Anzaldúa continues her theorizations about border knowledge. She further examines ancestral epistemology and contemporary expressions of indigenous spirituality, fully embracing the psychic, emotional, and energetic states that are a part of existence, and articulates a complex politics of nepantla consciousness.

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  • Cotera, María, and María Josefina Saldaña-Portillo. “Indigenous but Not Indian? Chicana/os and the Politics of Indigeneity.” In The World of Indigenous North America. Edited by Robert Warrior, 549–568. New York: Routledge, 2015.

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    This chapter examines the transnational dialogues held within and outside indigenous circles that debate the inclusion of Chicana/os as “indigenous” in the political agendas of tribally centered indigenous communities in the United States. By considering the centuries-long process of colonization in the formation of Chicana/os subjects, the authors explore the complex, contradictory ways nation-states have positioned them as both indigenous and settler.

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  • Estrada, Gabriel S. “Two-Spirit Mexica Youth and Transgender Mixtec”. Journal of Religion and Film 21.1 (2017).

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    This article uses Nahua, Mixtec and Zapotec cosmologies and epistemes to discuss the complex politics of queer and trans-gender indigeneity in a several films: La Mission a full length feature film by Benjamin Brat; Two Spirit: Injunuity by Adrian Baker an animated short that evokes indigenous centered gender fluidity; and Libertad by Brenda Avila Hanna that feature a male to female Mixtec activist in California who comes of age as a women with hormone therapy and surgery. Estrada argues how these filmic sites critique colonial heteropatriarchies and add to the growing body of trans/queer media that articulate non-binary indigenous gender identities.

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  • Gaspar de Alba, Alicia, and Alma López. Our Lady of Controversy: Alma López’s Irreverent Apparition. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2011.

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    The compelling contributions in this book highlight renowned scholarly voices as they interpret the significance of the protest rallies, prayer vigils, and death threats against the exhibition of Alma López’s digital collage Our Lady in 2001. The provocative exhibition reimagined the Chicana artistic tradition of La Virgen de Guadalupe, leading us to new definitions of art, feminism, queer theory, indigeneity, colonialism, and Chicana/o nationalism.

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  • Gaspar de Alba, Alicia. [Un]Framing The “Bad Woman”: Sor Juana, Malinche, Coyolxauhqui And Other Rebels with a Cause. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2014.

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    This compilation of Gaspar de Alba’s scholarly work examines the framing of brown female bodies through art, literature, history, politics, popular culture, and feminist theory. She interrogates how historical female figures such as la Malinche and Coyolxauhqui, among others, are categorized as “bad women” for their refusal to conform to patriarchal dictates of what constitutes the “good woman,” and in doing so, queer/alters male-centric and heteronormative epistemic frames.

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  • Hernández Castillo, R. Aída. “The Emergence of Indigenous Feminism in Latin America.” Signs 35.3 (2010): 539–545.

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    This article discusses the emergence of indigenous women’s movements in different Latin American countries that uphold equality between genders as well as between human beings and nature. Hernández Castillo illuminates how the diversity of voices emerging from organizations of indigenous women reveals how struggles against racism, sexism, and economic exploitation can and should be simultaneous and complementary struggles.

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  • Saldaña-Portillo, Josefina. “Who’s the Indian in Aztlán? Re-writing Mestizaje, Indianism, and Chicanismo from the Lacandón.” In The Latin American Subaltern Studies Reader. Edited by Ileana Rodríguez, 402–423. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001.

    DOI: 10.1215/9780822380771-020Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Saldaña-Portillo’s essay illustrates how mestizaje fetishizes and ultimately erases contemporary indigeneity in the United States and Mexico. Her analysis of the Zapatista movement allows us to reconsider how mestizaje is deployed as a trope for citizenship while also revealing how its transnational deployment subsumes living indigenous subjectivities, especially women.

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Indigeneity, Health, and Food Politics

A growing aspect of indigeneity studies explores the movement and transits of Latinx indigenous peoples concerning culture, spirituality, health, birthing practices, food systems, and cuisines. Many of these studies offer insights to ancestral knowledge of plants, animals, agriculture, cooking, traditions, and health of body, mind, and spirit. Peña, et al. 2017 provides compelling theoretical approaches and case studies focusing on Mesoamerican Latinx indigeneity, while Calvo and Esquibel 2015 takes a practical approach through indigenous-based recipes and a decolonization foundation that seeks to reclaim spiritual and physical health. Rodriguez 2014 dives into the knowledge and history of maíz (maize) as a food staple and cultural base of indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica, and Martinez-Cruz 2019 explores Chicanx food politics that relate to labor, cultural production, and gastronomy. Facio and Lara 2014 and Castillo 2014 provide insights into how indigeneity informs spirituality and activism for women, and Gonzales 2012 and Vega 2018 discuss how indigeneity inform rites and practices of birthing and motherhood.

  • Calvo, Luz, and Catriona Rueda Esquibel. 2015. Decolonize Your Diet: Plant-Based Mexican-American Recipes for Health and Healing. Vancouver, BC: Arsenal Pulp Press.

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    This cookbook invites critical reflection on the impact of colonization on the food we eat, and offers recipes based on indigenous Mesoamerican plants as a means for collective physical and spiritual health, particularly for the Latinx community that faces increased diseases and health concerns.

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  • Castillo, Ana. Massacre of the Dreamers: Essays on Xicanisma. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2014.

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    This 20th edition of Castillo’s essays provides crucial insights to the Chicana feminist movement of the 1970s and 1980s, delving into issues related to women immigrant labor, machismo, sexuality, mothers, the Lady of Guadalupe, and indigenous spiritual practices in the form of curanderismo.

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  • Facio, Elisa, and Irene Lara, eds. Fleshing the Spirit: Spirituality and Activism in Chicana, Latina, and Indigenous Women’s Lives. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2014.

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    Organized following and honoring the life energies and elements of the four directions, this anthology presents Chicana, Latina, and indigenous scholar-activists’ perspectives on spirituality in its intersections with gender, sexuality, class, and race.

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  • Gonzales, Patrisia. Red Medicine: Traditional Indigenous Rites of Birthing and Healing. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2012.

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    Situating birth within a constellation of healing practices rooted in indigenous knowledge, Gonzales provides an extensive scope of traditional medicine from across Mesoamerica and within Chicanx communities.

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  • Martinez-Cruz, Paloma. Food Fight!: Millennial Mestizaje Meets the Culinary Marketplace. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2019.

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    Through a Chicana mestiza perspective, Martinez-Cruz examines the colonial logics surrounding contemporary US food chains, and how they specifically target people of indigenous and Latin American descent in their advertising and rhetoric.

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  • Peña, Devon Gerardo, Luz Calvo, Pancho McFarland, and Gabriel R. Valle. Mexican-Origin Foods, Foodways, and Social Movements: Decolonial Perspectives. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2017.

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    Using a decolonial and a critical agroecological framework that problematizes food studies, the contributions in this collection center the voices and experiences of Mexican-origin people and the indigenous Mesoamerican diaspora in North America. The essays critically address theoretical perspectives commonly used in alternative food movements; examine food in relation to memory, identity, and transborder places and practices; and provide case studies that explore food justice and autonomy struggles.

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  • Rodriguez, Roberto Cintli. Our Sacred Maíz is Our Mother: Indigeneity and Belonging in the Americas. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2014.

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    Rodriguez’s book provides an in-depth examination of maíz narratives, or Centeotzintli narratives, present in indigenous communities in the US and Mexico, by weaving past and present communication and memory preservation tools grounded in maíz (corn) culture and stories.

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  • Vega, Rosalynn A. No Alternative: Childbirth, Citizenship, and Indigenous Culture in Mexico. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2018.

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    Vega illuminates how “new midwifery” paired with indigenous culture has become an object of consumption for the Mexican upper classes. She analyzes ethnographic accounts of Mexican natural birth practices, revealing how the birthing experiences of indigenous women and women from the upper class vastly differ. By interrogating the different birthing experiences of Mexican women with a focus on traditional racial and gender hierarchies, Vega complicates the notion of female empowerment and citizenship.

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Indigeneity, Migration, and Criminalization

Issues of indigeneity are made more complex by how the United States and the political climate of the 21st century seek to demonize Latinx peoples and communities. Xenophobic and white supremacist discourse, as well as state-driven and vigilante violence, consider Latinx subjects in the United States as threats and invaders, as well as those journeying to the US-Mexico border fleeing violence in their home communities. The discourses of criminalization that drive political rhetoric materialized in the 2019 vigilante mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, where the shooter called the victims “invaders,” mimicking the discourse of President Donald Trump, and are also made complex by scholars of indigeneity who consider how migration of Latinx peoples from the South to the United States can overlap with ideas and practices of settlers of color on colonized tribal lands. For key studies that discuss the criminalization of Latinx subjects, see Chavez 2008 and Aldama 2001. Studies on indigenous Mexicans and Guatemalans (Mixteco, Zapotec, Purepecha, and Mayan) who travel to the United States and form transnational indigenous communities include, Stephen 2007, Fox and Rivera-Salgado 2004, Tomás 2013, Velasco Ortiz 2005, and Aquino Moreschi 2012. For work that looks at how indigenous migrant children resist racism by forming cultural clubs, see Sanchez 2018. Recent work that considers Latinx migration as a complex interplay of indigenous and settlers of color on colonized tribal lands includes Blackwell, et al. 2017.

  • Aldama, Arturo J. Disrupting Savagism: Intersecting Chicana/o, Mexican Immigrant, and Native American Struggles for Self-Representation. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001.

    DOI: 10.1215/9780822380016Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Aldama looks at how the discourse of the fierce and noble savage was deployed during the Spanish conquest to criminalize and other indigenous peoples. By examining varied genres such as fiction, ethnography, narratives, and film, the study considers complex politics of racialized, indigenous, subaltern, feminist, and diasporic identities among Mexican immigrants, indigenous peoples of the Southwest, and Chicanx peoples.

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  • Aquino Moreschi, Alejandra. “De la milpa al field: La experiencia migratoria de jóvenes zapatistas en los campos de cultivo californianos.” Liminar: Estudios Sociales y Humanísticos 10.1 (2012): 15.

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    In this article Aquino Moreschi draws from her ethnographic research with Tojolabal Zapatista young men from Chiapas, analyzing their experiences as migrants in the United States. She elaborates on their work as agricultural day laborers in California and Mississippi, examining the economic and subjective dimensions that impact the decision to migrate, and how they respond to the conditions they encounter on the fields.

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  • Batz, Giovanni. “Maya Cultural Resistance in Los Angeles: The Recovery of Identity and Culture among Maya Youth.” Latin American Perspectives 41.3 (2014): 194–207.

    DOI: 10.1177/0094582X14531727Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    In this study Batz draws from a history of Mayan migration to the United States since the 1970s, personal family history, and in-depth interviews with children from the Maya diaspora living in Los Angeles, to discuss a range of factors that shape children’s experiences identifying, reclaiming, or rejecting their Maya identity and cultural practices.

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  • Blackwell, Maylei, Floridalma Boj Lopez, and Luis Urrieta, eds. “Introduction.” In Special Issue: Critical Latinx Indigeneities. Latino Studies 15.2 (2017): 126–137.

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    Expanding the fields of Latin American studies, Latinx studies, and Native American and indigenous studies, Critical Latinx Indigeneities weaves connecting threads across these disciplines through a joint local and hemispheric approach that examines “systems of indigeneity and racial/class hierarchy,” brought together by indigenous migrants and creating what Blackwell terms “hybrid hegemonies.” The essays in this issue explore indigeneity, gender, migration, and cultural productions through the experiences of indigenous migrants.

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  • Chavez, Leo R. The Latino Threat: Constructing Immigrants, Citizens, and the Nation. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2008.

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    Chavez develops and operationalizes what he calls the Latino Threat Narrative to discuss immigration issues, rhetoric, and livelihoods of Latino-identified people. Relying on data detailing Latina reproduction, sexuality, and fertility, as well as surveillance mechanisms and technologies on the Arizona-Mexico border and the DREAM Act, Chavez challenges the varying myths constructed to produce neoliberal citizen-subjects under the guise of racialized formations of the identifier Latino.

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  • Fox, Jonathan, and Gaspar Rivera-Salgado, eds. Indigenous Mexican Migrants in the United States. La Jolla, CA: Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, UCSD, 2004.

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    This collection addresses the migration of indigenous Mexican migrants and the creation and re-creation of their identities between the United States and Mexico, paying special attention to their ethnic, gender, and regional diversity, as they form organizations representing their interests. At the same time, these studies highlight the impact of their collective ethnic and indigenous identities on their economic, social, and political relationships in the United States.

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  • Sanchez, Daina. “Racial and Structural Discrimination toward the Children of Indigenous Mexican Immigrants.” Race and Social Problems 10.4 (2018): 306–319.

    DOI: 10.1007/s12552-018-9252-2Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Sanchez analyzes the ethnic, community, and national identities of Zapotec Solageño Oaxacan immigrant children living in Los Angeles, focusing on their participation in cultural group activities like village-based musical bands and patron saint festivities. In this ethnographic study, she examines how Solageño children and youth grapple with racism stemming from mainstream society and the mestizo Latino population, how they selectively acculturate, and how their religious and cultural practices allow them affiliation and attachment in diverse locations.

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  • Stephen, Lynn. Transborder Lives: Indigenous Oaxacans in Mexico, California, and Oregon. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007.

    DOI: 10.1215/9780822389965Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Stephen’s ethnography captures the personal histories and narratives of indigenous transborder migrants from the Mixtec community of San Agustín Atenango and the Zapotec community of Teotitlán del Valle. The indigenous migrants leave their communities to work in California and Oregon temporarily. Stephen gives an insightful analysis of the impact migration across borders has on local systems of government in both Mexico and the United States.

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  • Tomás, Leco Casimiro. “La diáspora transnacional purépecha en Estados Unidos/Transnational Purepecha Diaspora in the United States.” Acta Universitaria 23.1 (November 2013): 59–67.

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    This article considers diaspora of Purepecha peoples from Michoacán, Mexico, to the United States. It looks at how the Purepecha community like the Zapotecs and Mixtecos from Oaxaca, Mexico, create “clubs” and community spaces in the United States, and how cell phones and Internet video chat platforms allow Purepecha peoples to maintain their cultural and familial ties across the United States and Mexico.

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  • Velasco Ortiz, M. Laura. Mixtec Transnational Identity. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2005.

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    A nuanced and compelling study of indigenous Mexican migrants, this book explores the emergence of transnational indigenous organizations and communities along the Mexico-US border region. Drawing from a combination of survey, ethnography, and biography, Velasco Ortiz examines the formation of transnational pan-ethnic organizations, the emergence of indigenous migrant leaders, and the collective and individual development of ethnic consciousness.

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Indigeneity in Latin America (Abiayala)

Indigeneity in Mexico and other places in Latin America is complex, given that most nation-states are composed of mestizo (racially mixed) subjects, and yet most indigenous and Afro-indigenous communities live in varying degrees of economic and social marginalization and negotiate discourses and practices of Eurocentric values and norms that place the European as superior to the indigenous and the African. This general overview and its subsections include sources that discuss indigeneity and indigenous cultural practices in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, and Bolivia, and include non-English language sources. Some of these sources will complement the Oxford Bibliographies article “Latino Indigenismo in a Comparative Perspective” Some titles provide a hemispheric overview that attempt to connect scholarship on US Latinx indigeneity with hemispheric indigeneity from Canada to Bolivia, such as Castellanos, et al. 2012 and Castellanos 2017, while Forbes 1978 discusses how settler colonialist practices and geopolitical frames impact indigenous agency in the Americas. Keme and Coon 2018 critiques settler colonialist logics and geopolitical terms and argues for an indigenous-based renaming of this continent to the indigenous name from the Panama Cuna peoples, Abiayala, to connect indigenous subjects and communities struggling against the colonialities of power. Another work that looks at the indigenous social movements in a hemispheric frame is Escárzaga 2004. Mallón 2012 also presents a collection of essays that look at indigenous movements hemispherically. Warren and Jackson 2002 also discusses indigenous self-representations and social movements in Guatemala, Colombia, and Brazil.

  • Castellanos, M. Bianet. “Introduction: Settler Colonialism in Latin America.” American Quarterly 69.4 (2017): 777–781.

    DOI: 10.1353/aq.2017.0063Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This issue of American Quarterly brings together essays that examine indigeneity in Latin America and the Latinx indigenous experience in the United States through settler colonialism theory, contributing fresh and productive insights to the “logics of dispossession and elimination” that accompany imperialist endeavors. Bridging indigenous studies with Latin American studies scholarship, this volume represents cutting-edge analysis that seeks to break down epistemic divides.

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  • Castellanos, María Bianet, Lourdes Gutiérrez Nájera, and Arturo J. Aldama, eds. Comparative Indigeneities of the Américas: Towards a Hemispheric Approach. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2012.

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    This pathbreaking volume offers an in-depth approach to transnational, multidisciplinary, and critical indigenous studies. The contributors provide a critical engagement with intersecting themes such as mestizaje, migration, displacement, borders, spirituality, and healing that have historically shaped the experiences of Native communities in the Americas. Ultimately, the volume’s contributions make the case for using decolonial frameworks to develop deeper and critical understandings of indigeneity in the Americas.

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  • Cusicanqui, Silvia Rivera. “Ch’Ixinakax utxiwa: A Reflection on the Practices and Discourses of Decolonization.” South Atlantic Quarterly 111.1 (2012): 95–109.

    DOI: 10.1215/00382876-1472612Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Cusicanqui presents a poignant critique of how academic scholars of decoloniality, mostly from the Global North, appropriate and reproduce the knowledge production of indigenous scholars. Cusicanqui argues that the language and ideas of indigenous scholars are often taken up in decontextualized and depoliticized ways that truncate and distort their ideas.

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  • Escárzaga, Fabiola. “La emergencia indígena contra el neoliberalismo.” Politica y Cultura, 22 (2004): 101–121.

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    This article considers indigenous resistance movements in Bolivia, Peru, Guatemala, Ecuador, and Mexico in the last two decades of the 20th century. In particular, the article considers how indigenous rights movements are the vanguard of movements to resist the economic and environmental impacts of neoliberalism.

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  • Forbes, Jack. Columbus and Other Cannibals: The Wetiko Disease of Exploitation, Imperialism and Terrorism. New York: Seven Stories Press, 1978.

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    Forbes argues that the conquest, colonization, genocide, enslavement, and sexual violence inflicted on indigenous civilizations are driven by what he terms the “wetiko (cannibal) psychosis” where human beings are violated and consumed for greed, profit, and domination of land, resources, and colonized subjects. He looks at how systems of colonization and enslavement function by having colonized subjects gain more status and power if they enact violence on their own communities. Available in a Kindle edition (2011).

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  • Keme, Emil, and Adam Coon. “For Abiayala to Live, the Americas Must Die: Toward a Transhemispheric Indigeneity.” Native American and Indigenous Studies 5.1 (2018): 42–68.

    DOI: 10.5749/natiindistudj.5.1.0042Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    K’iche’ Maya activist/scholar Emil Keme (Emilio del Valle Escalante) provides a historical overview of the narratives and the material implications surrounding the projects of “America” and “Latin America,” and the ethnocentric and colonial logics underpinning them. He instead proposes “Abiayala” to name and epistemologically resignify what is currently known as the American continent, grounding the concept in indigenous linguistic, cultural, and political experiences and knowledges. Keme argues for taking up Abiayala as a transhemispheric conceptual and political bridge that brings together indigenous peoples facing a common colonial legacy and ongoing colonial entanglements.

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  • Mallón, Florencia E., ed. Decolonizing Native Histories. Translated by Gladys McCormick. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012.

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    This collection presents an interdisciplinary discussion from indigenous and nonindigenous voices alike of the challenges for decolonization and indigenous activism in the Americas. The contributors discuss various tools of colonization and misuse of indigenous knowledge, and argue for centering the voices of Native people. Notably, the collection points to commonality and solidarity between the North and South to foster new possibilities for indigenous collaboration and mobilization.

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  • Warren, Kay B., and Jean E. Jackson, eds. Indigenous Movements, Self-Representation, and the State in Latin America. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2002.

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    An important contribution that explores indigenous-led social movements in Guatemala, Colombia, and Brazil, this book also offers reflections on engaged research in the field of anthropology. It also offers insight into the ways that indigenous communities organize to challenge different policies, laws, and practices of the neoliberal and arguably neocolonial state.

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Indigeneity in Mexico: Agency and Activism

For a more contemporary discussion of indigeneity in the context of Mexico, see Bonfil Batalla and Dennis 1996. For an understanding of how Europe has denied the civilizational complexities of Mesoamerica despite the preponderance of evidence in language, art, architecture, and philosophy, see Mignolo 2003. Saldaña-Portillo 2016 discusses the complex ways that Spanish and British colonial practices created racialized spaces that impact how indigenous people are perceived and defined, and Speed, et al. 2006 discusses how Mayan women in Chiapas, Mexico, engage in activism and community-building. Negrín 2019 looks at how Wixarikan students negotiate urban spaces and work to maintain their indigenous identities in urban centers away from their traditional communities in Nayarit and Jalisco, Mexico. This section includes work that speaks to the complex gender, decolonial, and activist politics of the Mayan communities in the Guatemala-Mexico borderland areas and their roles in the Zapatista uprising of 1994. These works include Eber and Antonia 2011; Hernández Castillo 2001; Speed, et al. 2006; and the foundational primary-document-based Rovira 2000.

  • Bonfil Batalla, Guillermo, and Philip Adams Dennis. México Profundo: Reclaiming a Civilization. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1996.

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    Mexican anthropologist Bonfil Batalla’s pivotal publication was published in the late 1980s, presenting his theory of “cultural control” to examine the presence of Mexico’s indigenous population. He explains that there are two types of Mexico in constant conflict and tension: the Mexico Profundo, rooted in Mesoamerican civilization, and the Imaginary Mexico, a nation project that strives to model Western civilization.

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  • Eber, Christine E., and Antonia. The Journey of a Tzotzil-Maya Woman of Chiapas, Mexico: Pass Well over the Earth. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2011.

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    The life story of “Antonia,” a Mayan woman who became part of the EZLN’s support base, is presented through her own voice, with brief annotations by Eber. This testimony describes the everyday experiences of Mayan women in an emerging indigenous women’s rights movement.

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  • Guidotti-Hernández, Nicole Marie. Unspeakable Violence: Remapping U.S. and Mexican National Imaginaries. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011.

    DOI: 10.1215/9780822394495Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This study offers a corrective, historical analysis of the epistemic and physical episodes of violence inflicted on gendered and racialized subjects in the US-Mexico borderlands such as the Yoeme and Tohono-O’odham people in Arizona. In doing so, Guidotti-Hernández presents a new, transnational approach to understanding violence, gender, race, and citizenship in the borderlands.

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  • Hernández Castillo, Rosalva Aída. The Other Word: Women and Violence in Chiapas before and after Acteal. Copenhagen, Denmark: International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, 2001.

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    Originally published in Spanish in 1998, shortly after the Acteal massacre where thirty-two women and thirteen men of indigenous Tzotzil descent were assassinated, this publication offers an interdisciplinary gender perspective of violence toward indigenous women, specifically under military and paramilitary conditions and low-intensity warfare.

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  • Mignolo, Walter. The Darker Side of the Renaissance: Literacy, Territoriality, and Colonization. 2d ed. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2003.

    DOI: 10.3998/mpub.8739Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Mignolo’s visionary work draws on history, semiotics, literature, historiography, cartography, and cultural theory to challenge the normative understandings of New World history. He particularly problematizes the notion that indigenous peoples were at a disadvantage, as they did not employ the same language and knowledge systems the Europeans valued. Mignolo examines how European invaders denied the civilizational complexity of indigenous communities to justify their genocide and imposition.

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  • Negrín, Diana. Racial Alterity, Wixarika Youth Activism, and the Right to the Mexican City. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2019.

    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctvrdf20nSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This monograph examines the ways that Wixarikan (indigenous Huicholes) university students in Tepic, Nayarit, and Guadalajara, Jalisco, negotiate racialized urban spaces and their indigenous identities in a mestizo nation-state. Negrín considers how Wixarika youth away from their traditional communities in the western Sierra Madre mountain areas work to “emplace” and “reterritorialize” in cities that fetishize the Huichol as a tourist attraction (Tepic) and cities that are mestizo and heavily Catholic (Guadalajara).

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  • Rovira, Guiomar. Mujeres de maíz. 3d ed. Mexico City: Ediciones Era, 2000.

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    Rovira offers one of the first Spanish language publications to focus on women’s involvement in the different ranks of the EZLN (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, or Zapatista Army of National Liberation), including reports and testimonies of the historical “indigenous women” discussion session during the 1995 negotiations on indigenous rights and culture.

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  • Saldaña-Portillo, María Josefina. Indian Given: Racial Geographies across Mexico and the United States. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016.

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    Saldaña-Portillo addresses a genealogy of racialized violence and resistance within the construction of national spaces and racialized notions of citizenship. Through a careful analysis of archival, historical, literary, and legal texts, she demonstrates how the Spanish and British colonial legacies differed in their treatment of indigenous bodies. That legacy has shaped the contemporary natural, racial, and cultural landscapes of Mexico and the United States.

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  • Speed, Shannon, Rosalva Aída Hernández Castillo, and Lynn Stephen, eds. Dissident Women: Gender and Cultural Politics in Chiapas. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2006.

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    This pivotal publication reflects on Mayan indigenous women’s organizing efforts, providing a theoretical shift that recognized indigenous women’s ethnic and gender specificities, and a dynamic and differentiated identity.

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Indigeneity, Mestizaje, and Gender: Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, and Bolivia

As a subsection of the section on indigeneity in the Latin America, the sources summarized below provide an overview of some key scholarship that discusses indigeneity mestizaje in Central and South America, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, and Bolivia in particular. Specifically, the sources discuss a range of issues and social movements, including discussions on Afro-indigenous identities and community struggles in Honduras (Anderson 2007, Barahona and Rivas 1998, Loperena 2017, Safa 2005). Sources by Mayan scholars that discuss ongoing racist state violence and gender-based violence directed at Mayan women in Guatemala include Velásquez Nimatuj 2005 and Cumes 2009. For sources that discuss indigeneity in Peru and, specifically, how indigenous understandings of ecosystems and the universe drive both protest and healing, see Cadena 2015; for critiques of mestizaje in Bolivia, see Sanjinés 2004; and for critiques of colonial heteropatriarchies in Bolivia, see Horswell 2005.

  • Anderson, Mark. “When Afro Becomes (Like) Indigenous: Garifuna and Afro‐Indigenous Politics in Honduras.” Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology 12.2 (2007): 384–413.

    DOI: 10.1525/jlat.2007.12.2.384Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    In this essay, Anderson elucidates how the Honduran government made equivalent racialized categories of indigenous and Afrohondureños through a property law intended to regularize and modernize property ownership. By analyzing the effects of the property law in conjunction with state programs funded by the World Bank, Anderson highlights the entangled relations between blackness and indigeneity, and ultimately reveals how the state marks and blurs distinctions among indigenous and Afro-descendant subjects.

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  • Barahona, Marvin, and Ramón Rivas, eds. Rompiendo el espejo: Visiones sobre los pueblos indígenas y negros en Honduras. Tegucigalpa, Honduras: Editorial Guaymuras, 1998.

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    In 1996, Honduran indigenous movement leaders, local and international NGOs, state representatives, and scholars participated in the “Imagen y percepción de las poblaciones indígenas en Honduras” conference. This compilation provides readers with conference proceedings, roundtable discussions, and presentations.

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  • Cadena, Marisol de la. Earth Beings: Ecologies of Practice across Andean Worlds. Lewis Morgan Lectures. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015.

    DOI: 10.1215/9780822375265Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This book is grounded in conversations with an Andean father (Mariano Turpo) and son (Nazario) who are renowned yachaq indigenous healers near Cuzco, Peru. The book discusses indigenous struggles for land rights against the hacienda system. It also shares the Quechan cosmovision ayllu, where land, plants, mountains, animals, and humans are all beings that live in an interconnected web.

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  • Cumes, Aura. “Mujeres indígenas, poder y justicia: De guardianas a autoridades en la construcción de culturas y cosmovisiones.” In UNIFEM, Mujeres indígenas y justicia ancestral. Edited by Miriam Lang and Anna Kucia, 33–47. Quito, Ecuador: UNIFEM, 2009.

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    This chapter by the Kacqchikel Mayan scholar Dr. Aura Cumes argues for an intersectional decolonial epistemic frame that situates the precarity of Mayan women in Guatemala as they fight against racist state violence and its juridical systems and patriarchy. Cumes argues that any movement to respect Mayan rights and indigenous rights in the Americas must consider indigenous women’s agency as social actors and their rights to challenge racist, colonialist, and patriarchal norms.

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  • Horswell, Michael J. Decolonizing the Sodomite: Queer Tropes of Sexuality in Colonial Andean Culture. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005.

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    Horswell presents an alternative history of what the Spanish missionaries and civil authorities deemed “sodomites” in the precolonized Andes era. By examining the canonical medieval texts through the early modern Spanish secular and moralist literature, Horswell traces the origin of the dominant Eurocentric tropes on gender, sexuality, masculinity, and femininity. Using the concept of the “third gender,” he examines alternative gender and sexuality in the colonial Andean world.

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  • Loperena, Christopher A. “Settler Violence?: Race and Emergent Frontiers of Progress in Honduras.” American Quarterly 69.4 (2017): 801–807.

    DOI: 10.1353/aq.2017.0066Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Drawing from settler colonial theory, Loperena analyzes the violent and racialized configurations of dispossession that shape development practices in Honduras, where indigenous and black people’s territories are conceived through ideas of progress and frontier making. Discussing the 2009 coup, the murder of Lenca activist Berta Cáceres, and the Garífuna northern coast black community’s Inter-American Court of Human Rights legal case in defense of their territorial rights, Loperena argues that extractivist development projects like the ones taking place in Honduras emerge from a legacy of settler colonial violence.

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  • Rivas, D. Ramón. Pueblos indígenas y garífuna de Honduras: Una caracterización. Tegucigalpa, Honduras: Editorial Guaymuras, 2000.

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    Based on historical documentation and field research conducted in the late 1980s and early 1990s, this publication provides a broad socio-anthropological study of indigenous populations in contemporary Honduras. It also discusses the Afro-indigenous Garifuna peoples.

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  • Safa, Helen I. “Challenging Mestizaje: A Gender Perspective on Indigenous and Afrodescendant Movements in Latin America.” Critique of Anthropology 25.3 (2005): 307–330.

    DOI: 10.1177/0308275X05055217Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Safa delineates the ways indigenous and Afro-descendant subjects in Latin America are contesting mestizaje as a framework for nation-building through contemporary movements for cultural autonomy and social legitimation. The article illustrates how these movements counter the blanqueamiento, or whitening of subjects, a consequence of mestizaje. The increased role of women within these movements reveals the ways they reconcile the tensions between ethnic/racial and gender consciousness.

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  • Sanjinés, C. Javier. Mestizaje Upside-Down: Aesthetic Politics in Modern Bolivia. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2004.

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    Sanjinés offers an important perspective on mestizaje in Bolivia, contending that instead of producing a mixture that brings together equals in the body politic, discourses and practices of mestizaje privilege the more European identified national subject with Eurocentric and neoliberal worldviews, and exclude indigenous worldviews.

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  • Velásquez Nimatuj, Irma Alicia. “Pueblos indígenas, estado y lucha por tierra en Guatemala: Estrategias de sobrevivencia y negociación ante la desigualdad globalizada.” PhD diss., University of Texas at Austin, 2005.

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    This ethnographic study by a K’ichee Mayan scholar considers how indigenous women in the Mam communities (Mayan communities in the western Highlands of Guatemala and parts of Chiapas, Mexico) organize and are part of two indigenous rights organizations, one that is national, and the other is in the central coffee growing regions. The study critically examines whether indigenous rights organizations argue for an intersectional form of justice as they fight against the colonialities of power.Available online.

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US and Canada: Sovereignty and Recognition

Compared to Mexico and Latin America, the unique colonial histories of the United States and Canada have influenced the expression and treatment of indigeneity, which largely hinges on issues of sovereignty and nationhood. Although indigenous nations predate the United States and Canadian settler colonial nation-states, treaties signed between them serve as a defining feature of contemporary tribal sovereignty. And although indigenous sovereignty is significantly limited by settler legal and political orders, the notion of self-determination as semi-autonomous nations continues to set the course of indigenous resistance and intergovernmental relations today. For works on the unique expressions, limits, and entailments of sovereignty for indigenous nations, see Bruyneel 2007, Alfred 1999, and Barker 2011, respectively. Deloria and Lytle 1984 offers a foundational chronicling of tribal sovereignty in US federal Indian policy. Wilkins and Lomawaima 2001 and Borrows 2002 are also important works on the legal landscape of sovereignty and the assertion of indigenous law within settler systems of governance, respectively. Cattelino 2008 is an in-depth ethnography that illuminates the economic dimensions of tribal sovereignty as expressed through casino development. Dennison 2012 provides another ethnography on tribal constitutional reform embedded in settler legal and political landscapes. Den Ouden and O’Brien 2013 centers indigenous struggles and victories within the complex web of US federal recognition processes, while Coulthard 2014 warns against the promise of self-determination via setter state recognition.

  • Alfred, Taiaiake. Peace, Power, Righteousness: An Indigenous Manifesto. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1999.

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    Kahnawake Mohawk scholar Taiaiake Alfred critiques contemporary forms of indigenous governance that mirror or invest in colonial ideals, and suggests alternative pathways for strengthening indigenous nations that are grounded in the rich traditions of indigenous peoplehood. This book argues for a vision of indigenous governance that eschews European political thought and instead encourages indigenous scholars and leaders to think about what justice should look like for indigenous nations as truly self-determining polities.

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  • Barker, Joanne. Native Acts: Law, Recognition, and Cultural Authenticity. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011.

    DOI: 10.1215/9780822393382Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Barker examines how US legal narratives have produced colonial ideologies of race, gender, and sexuality that have dire implications for the enactment of indigenous sovereignty today. She examines how Native peoples have navigated legal landscapes of federal recognition, tribal citizenship, and marriage law, and the resulting effects these acts have had on indigenous cultural and political identity, belonging, and articulations of tradition.

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  • Borrows, John. Recovering Canada: The Resurgence of Indigenous Law. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002.

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    Anishinaabe legal scholar John Borrows provides a detailed account of the development of indigenous First Nations legal traditions in Canada, and the insights they provide today for Canadian democracy. The book argues for the adoption of key tenets of indigenous law—and therefore for indigenous values of diplomacy and respect for the natural world—within the Canadian legal system in order to promote justice and recover from a colonial past.

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  • Bruyneel, Kevin. The Third Space of Sovereignty: The Postcolonial Politics of U.S.-Indigenous Relations. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007.

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    Bruyneel engages with the nuances of American Indian political subjectivity—specifically how indigenous nations reside neither “inside” nor “outside” the American political system. Bruyneel argues that indigenous nations in the US articulate and inhabit a unique political “third space” that defies colonial attempts to assimilate or eradicate them. This interdisciplinary study shows how indigenous nations are political actors that define their own sovereignty, citizenship, and territory by challenging the liberal democratic settler state.

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  • Cattelino, Jessica. High Stakes: Florida Seminole Gaming and Sovereignty. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008.

    DOI: 10.1215/9780822391302Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Anthropologist Jessica Cattelino provides an in-depth look at the development of Seminole Nation gaming operations in Florida and the implications that economic success has had on indigenous sovereignty broadly. An essential work on the economics of sovereignty, in which Cattelino explores how the revenue generated by tribal casinos often funds cultural revitalization programs that speak to money’s “fungibility” and the nuanced expression and assertion of sovereignty through economically derived political capital.

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  • Coulthard, Sean C. Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014.

    DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816679645.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Addressing discourses and politics of tribal recognition in liberal multicultural democracies like Canada, Dene scholar Glen Coulthard argues that the politics of recognition reproduce colonial, racist, and patriarchal forms of state power. Coulthard traces the nuances of settler colonial power and capitalist modes of production to argue for the rejection of these frameworks and to insist on alternatives that allow for fuller expressions of indigenous self-determination.

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  • Deloria, Vine, Jr., and Clifford M. Lytle. The Nations Within: The Past and Future of American Indian Sovereignty. New York: Pantheon Books, 1984.

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    A foundational study on US federal Indian policy and its impact on American Indian governments and communities. The authors describe the origins of indigenous sovereignty and how key periods of federal Indian policy gradually weakened the governing power and self-determination of Native nations. They provide an in-depth discussion of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, and how it fundamentally altered indigenous political formations through the imposition of corporate governmental structures.

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  • Dennison, Jean. Colonial Entanglement: Constituting a Twenty-First-Century Osage Nation. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2012.

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    Osage scholar Jean Dennison discusses the complexities of tribal governance and citizenship within the Osage Nation of Oklahoma from the creation of the Osage constitution in 2006. She provides a historical yet contemporary account that includes factors such as disenfranchisement of oil and her own fieldwork examining the constitution reform process. The book addresses the complex relationship between self-determination and what sovereignty means for the Osage nation.

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  • Den Ouden, Amy, and Jean O’Brien, eds. Recognition, Sovereignty Struggles, and Indigenous Rights in the United States: A Sourcebook. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2013.

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    Den Ouden and O’Brien (White Earth Ojibwe) curate a volume on the legal and cultural implications of recognition for indigenous peoples in the United States. The volume discusses the role of race and ethnicity in the recognition process, state and federal recognition in New England, and the complex issues surrouding what recognition means for indigenous sovereignty. The volume also addresses such themes as public policy, revitalization movements, and tribal political and economic infrastructures.

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  • Wilkins, David E., and K. Tsianina Lomawaima. Uneven Ground: American Indian Sovereignty and Federal Law. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2001.

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    A critical look at the legal history of indigenous sovereignty in the United States, structured around key colonial “doctrines” that were developed to rationalize indigenous subjugation and dispossession. Wilkins (Lumbee) and Lomawaima (Mvskoke descent) consider the colonial narratives of federal Indian law that continue to define the extent and limitations of indigenous sovereignty, and how indigenous nations have effectively asserted their rights to self-determination within the American legal system.

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US and Canada: Identity, Race, Gender, and Sexuality

Indigenous “identity” in North America is complex, albeit in different ways when compared to other places in the Americas. Whereas initial colonial efforts sought to subdue and dispossess indigenous nations through military force and confinement to reservations, subsequent policies were intended to assimilate indigenous people into the dominant Eurocentric way of life. This assimilation period went hand-in-hand with US policies like allotment, which alienated former communally owned indigenous lands and subjected them to the ravages of a private property system. With the resulting loss of millions of acres of land, indigenous people were also subjected to a system of blood quantum that sought to measure “Indian blood” and differentially treat those with less Indian blood from higher-quantum individuals. TallBear 2013 describes how Native ancestry is subject to settler colonialism through DNA tests and genetic science. For example, under the US allotment policy, Native people of one-half or more Indian blood were considered by the federal government to be incompetent in managing their own affairs, justifying the paternalistic oversight of many Indian lands and resources by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs. For works on expressions of American Indian identity through examinations of tribal sovereignty, indigenous urban life, and racial politics, see Garroutte 2003, Ramirez 2007, and Sturm 2002, respectively. These and other policies have had drastic repercussions for indigenous cultural, psychological, and physical well-being in North America, and have likewise negatively impacted the status of women and non-gender-conforming and/or queer individuals within indigenous societies. Barker 2017 and Driskill, et al. 2011 interrupt settler colonial forms of knowing by centering indigenous feminism and GLBTQ2 ways of knowing. Morgensen 2011 and Suzack, et al. 2010 offer interventions that critique settler colonialism and its connections to the queer subject and mainstream white feminism. Child 2012 and Deer 2015 write on topics related to indigenous women through indigenous nation-building and community life, calling for tribal nations to pursue legal reforms that will protect Native women from sexual violence. In all, indigenous expressions of identity are complex and multifaceted, and the works below show efforts for self-determination and community-building that resist colonial impositions.

  • Barker, Joanne, ed. Critically Sovereign: Indigenous Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017.

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    Lenape scholar Joanne Barker gathers together influential scholars in this volume to present perspectives on gender, sexuality, and feminism in the field of critical indigenous studies. The contributors make important interventions through their discussions of indigenous sovereignty and self-determination and how these political goals and formations must be tempered by critical attention to how settler-colonial norms of gender and sexuality often inform them.

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  • Child, Brenda J. Holding Our World Together: Ojibwe Women and the Survival of Community. New York: Viking, 2012.

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    Ojibwe historian Brenda Child recounts a history of Ojibwe community life over three centuries in relation to women’s experiences and their significant involvement as society builders and keepers. Through ecological connections to water, wild rice, and other-than-human beings, as well as through their diplomacy and political leadership, Child describes how Ojibwe women in historical and contemporary times have created and sustained critical aspects of Ojibwe peoplehood throughout tumultuous colonial policy periods.

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  • Deer, Sarah. The Beginning and End of Rape: Confronting Sexual Violence in Native America. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015.

    DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816696314.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Mvskoke scholar Sarah Deer argues that surviving colonization and surviving rape are interconnected processes. The book discusses rape in legal, political, social, historical, and individual contexts and calls for indigenous nations to place legal reform (both internally and at the state and federal levels) regarding sexual violence against Native women as the top priority for tribal self-determination and decolonization efforts.

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  • Driskill, Qwo-Li, Chris Finley, Brian Joseph Gilley, and Scott Lauria Morgensen, eds. Queer Indigenous Studies: Critical Interventions in Theory, Politics, and Literature. First Peoples: New Directions in Indigenous Studies. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2011.

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    This edited volume develops critical indigenous GLBTQ2 theories by centering indigenous knowledges and critiquing heteronormativity and heteropatriarchy as ideologies and practices that undermine indigenous struggles for sovereignty and decolonization. The editors situate Two Spirit and queer indigenous movements and writing as key arenas for articulating emancipatory politics that include indigenous aspirations for self-determination.

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  • Garroutte, Eva Marie. Real Indians: Identity and the Survival of Native America. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003.

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    Cherokee scholar Eva Garroutte examines the nuances of American Indian identity in the United States. The book highlights the complexity of Indian identity as shaped by US colonial policies, tribal enrollment criteria, individual accounts from Native people, and broader sociocultural influences, and argues for what she calls “radical indigenism.” In support of tribal sovereignty, indigenous scholars, she argues, should produce scholarship to promote tribal epistemologies, languages, and cultures.

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  • Morgensen, Scott Lauria. Spaces between Us: Queer Settler Colonialism and Indigenous Decolonization. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011.

    DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816656325.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Scott Lauria Morgensen explores the construction of the contemporary queer subject by examining its origin in white settler colonialism. Drawing from historical and ethnographic cases, the author compellingly argues that US queer subjects became normatively non-Native and white. Even more, the analysis exposes the interdependence of nation, gender, race, and sexuality that places white settler colonialism as a source of origin for construction of the queer subject in the United States.

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  • Ramirez, Renya K. Native Hubs: Culture, Community, and Belonging in Silicon Valley and Beyond. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007.

    DOI: 10.1215/9780822389897Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This ethnography of Native communities in Silicon Valley, California, explores the complexities of indigenous urban life and the generative relational spaces that indigenous people form to foster culture and belonging. Writing with specific attention to Native women’s gendered experiences, Ho-Chunk scholar Renya Ramirez articulates a theory of transnational indigeneity that is grounded in tribally specific homelands and cultures while also being expansive to intertribal relationships and coalitional politics.

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  • Sturm, Circe. Blood Politics: Race, Culture, and Identity in the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.

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    Mississippi Choctaw descendant Circe Sturm provides an ethnography of how understandings of race and culture have informed Cherokee nationhood through time and into the present. Grounded in Cherokee history and politics, this book also speaks to broader histories of identity formation and colonial regulation among indigenous nations in the United States, as well as to the troubled history (and contemporary manifestations) of slavery practiced among the elites of many southeastern indigenous nations.

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  • Suzack, Cheryl, Shari M Huhndorf, and Jeanne Perreault. Indigenous Women and Feminism: Politics, Activism, Culture. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2010.

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    This wide-ranging collection of essays provides a sophisticated discussion that interrogates whether mainstream feminism and postcolonial scholarship can address the needs and concerns of indigenous women. The contributing authors examine the historical roles of indigenous women, their activism, and their contributions to literature, art, and performance to forward a new line of inquiry: indigenous feminism.

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  • TallBear, Kimberly. Native American DNA: Tribal Belonging and the False Promise of Genetic Science. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013.

    DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816665853.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate scholar Kimberly TallBear examines the history and politics of genetic science and indigenous nations in North America through an ethnography of Native and non-Native genetic scientists. TallBear makes critical interventions in indigenous studies and science and technology studies (STS) and examines how DNA tests and the science behind them are part of a larger narrative that privileges Eurocentric and colonial perspectives over indigenous cosmologies, nation/peoplehood, and relationships to homelands.

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US and Canada: Land and Indigenous Ways of Knowing and Being

Connections to their homelands are a vital component of indigenous groups’ conception as peoples. Deloria 2003 and LaDuke 2005 describe the intricately linked, formative pillars of religion and relationality within American Indian understandings of place, as well as how American Indian activism works to restore the material and sacred health of the land. For works on the importance of indigenous oral traditions for teaching relationships to the nonhuman world, and especially the role of indigenous women’s knowledge, see Kermoal and Altamirano-Jiménez 2016, Kimmerer 2015, and Goeman 2013. Relationality with lands, waters, and other-than-human beings in indigenous homelands informs indigenous ontologies and epistemologies, including the realms of religion, governance systems, subsistence economies, narrative traditions, senses of place, educational systems, and political activism. Carroll 2015 and Pasternak 2017 describe similar facets of indigenous land stewardship practices within Cherokee environmental governance and an “ontology of care” framework among the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, respectively. Within Anishinaabeg (Ojibwe) studies, Doerfler, et al. 2013 and Simpson 2011 draw from Anishinaabe teachings and stories that ground indigenous knowledge and contemporary practices. Goodyear-Ka’ōpua 2013 describes a Native Hawaiian land-centered education program that informs indigenous control over their own lands and teaching strategies. The works below highlight how the resilience and persistence of indigenous nations, as demonstrated through ongoing efforts of culture and language revitalization (perhaps better described in the words of Leanne Simpson as “indigenous resurgence projects”)—as well as progressive agendas of environmental protection—are contributing to the flourishing of indigenous lands and communities into the future.

  • Carroll, Clint. Roots of Our Renewal: Ethnobotany and Cherokee Environmental Governance. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015.

    DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816690893.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Cherokee scholar Clint Carroll presents an ethnography of his involvement with elders of the Cherokee Nation in a tribal ethnobotany project that expanded into a council on environmental governance. Considering the importance of land-based knowledge and relationships to the natural world in Cherokee governance, the book explores the complexities of tribal natural resource management amid colonial histories of relocation and land loss, and the dynamics of indigenous sovereignty.

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  • Deloria, Vine. God is Red: A Native View of Religion. Golden, CO: Fulcrum, 2003.

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    Deloria traces the differences between Native religious practices and Christianity, offering evidence for the ways in which Christianity has failed to articulate respectful relationships with the land and other-than-human beings. Using examples from the American Indian Movement, federal Indian policy, and legal cases, Deloria shows how the influence of Christianity on American law and politics has profoundly inhibited the practice of indigenous religions and the stewardship of sacred places.

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  • Doerfler, Jill, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, and Heidi Kiiwetinepinesiik Stark, eds. Centering Anishinaabeg Studies: Understanding the World through Stories. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2013.

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    Ojibwe editors Doerfler, Sinclair, and Stark convene a volume around the themes of roots, relationships, stories, revelations, resilience, resistance, and reclamation, centering on Anishinaabeg studies and traditions. The authors center stories as ways to understand tribal law, climate change, and the more-than-human world. Each essay uses Anishinaabeg stories to pose a deeper understanding of our world today through cultural, political, and historical Anishinaabeg traditions.

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  • Goeman, Mishuana. Mark My Words: Native Women Mapping Our Nations. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013.

    DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816677900.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Seneca scholar Mishuana Goeman draws from historical, cultural, and spatial epistemologies to show relations that are produced and a move toward spatial decolonization. Using Native women’s writing, Goeman examines the narratives that refute colonial attempts to organize land, bodies, and social and political landscapes. This text examines Native epistemologies that frame indigenous peoples’ relationships to the land and to other people.

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  • Goodyear-Ka’ōpua, Noelani. The Seeds We Planted: Portraits of a Native Hawaiian Charter School. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013.

    DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816680474.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Noelani Goodyear-Ka’ōpua provides an ethnography of the Native Hawaiian charter school Hālau Kū Māna, and shows how this school can help Native Hawaiian indigenous reclamation and self-determination goals. She examines colonial educational practices that sought to strip Native Hawaiians of their culture and language. She offers frameworks of “land-centered literacies” and “sovereign pedagogies” that center indigenous ways of knowing, relating to, caring for, and defending their homelands.

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  • Kermoal, Nathalie, and Isabel Altamirano-Jiménez, eds. Living on the Land: Indigenous Women’s Understanding of Place. Edmonton, AB: Athabasca University Press, 2016.

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    Through the exploration and analysis of indigenous women’s experiences on and with the land, the contributors to this volume highlight the diversity of Native women’s experiences through oral history, interviews, economic processes, and life histories. The chapters in this volume bring light to indigenous women’s knowledge that has been previously overlooked by dominant knowledge systems and other scholarship on indigenous knowledges.

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  • Kimmerer, Robin Wall. Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teaching of Plants. Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions, 2015.

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    Drawing on personal accounts and indigenous oral traditions, Potawatomie scholar Robin Kimmerer centers plants and animals as teachers in her journey as an accomplished scholar and scientist. Essays organized around the tending and care for sweetgrass offer insights on knowing and relating to the natural world that incorporates both indigenous and Western scientific teachings. The book presents critical advice on how humans can improve their relationships with plants, animals, and the land.

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  • LaDuke, Winona. Recovering the Sacred: The Power of Naming and Claiming. Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 2005.

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    In a series of essays ranging from genetically modified wild rice to sports team mascots, Anishinaabe writer-activist Winona LaDuke recounts contemporary North American indigenous nations fighting to restore and reclaim their foods, symbols, imagery, lands, knowledge, rights, and ancestral remains amid ongoing settler colonialism in which “the sacred” has all but lost meaning. The book provides well-researched accounts of grassroots indigenous activism, with sharp analysis and commentary.

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  • Pasternak, Shiri. Grounded Authority: The Algonquins of Barriere Lake against the State. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2017.

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    Shiri Pasternak examines the complexities between the Canadian state and indigenous peoples’ ability to exercise territorial and jurisdictional sovereignty. Pasternak provides a theoretical discussion of jurisdiction to examine how sovereignty is operated and used against indigenous peoples. In contradistinction, she describes how Barriere Lake Algonquins use an “ontology of care” to ground their stewardship responsibilities on the land and thus contest the overriding of indigenous authority by the settler state.

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  • Simpson, Leanne B. Dancing on Our Turtle’s Back: Stories of Nishnaabeg Re-Creation, Resurgence and a New Emergence. Winnipeg, MB: Arbeiter Ring, 2011.

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    Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg scholar Leanne Simpson presents a resurgence framework that calls on accessing, regenerating, and centering Nishnaabeg thought and ways of being that are based on indigenous lifeways. Simpson seeks to dismantle “cognitive imperialism” and open up a flourishing of mino bimaadiziwin (the good life) through her study and analysis of Nishnaabeg stories that convey critical lessons for indigenous resistance and mobilization.

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