Guest Post: First Nations and Indigenous Studies 310 Collective Statement of Learning

The below post was written collectively by the students of UBC’s First Nations and Indigenous Studies theory seminar (FNIS 310), led by Matthew Wildcat. The following was written during two weeks of class time in November and December 2015.

First Nations and Indigenous Studies (FNIS) 310 is the theory seminar for FNIS majors and minors. The course explored decolonization and Indigeneity through readings, class discussions, guest lectures, essays, and a transformative Round Dance in the middle of UBC campus. The Fall 2015 offering of the course was instructed by Matthew Wildcat.

Decolonization delves into Indigenous resistance, resurgence and the breakdown of the colonial system. Breakdown of the colonial architecture, and its racialized, sexualized, and heteronormative landscape, is necessary to decolonization. While discourse and theory inform decolonization, action is key to breaking down the settler colonial architecture. Decolonization is also about the resurgence of Indigenous ways of knowing and the revitalization of Indigenous communities and culture. Through reforming relationships, decolonization can be achieved.

The discourse throughout the class was inclusive of and informed by Indigenous worldviews that sought to ultimately understand and reform racialized understandings of Indigenous peoples perpetuated by colonial theory and power. Conversations and readings explored the role of Indigenous epistemologies and how they exist within and without the colonial state. Indigenous epistemologies were seen not as only reactionary to colonization, but also as standing separately in their pre-existence of our current nation-state. It is fundamental for Indigenous peoples to continue learning and practicing Indigenous intelligence as they have done since time immemorial.

The class identified seven themes that were covered during the course:

  1. Settler colonialism and colonization
  2. Discourse and decolonization
  3. Putting theory into motion
  4. Gender justice now!
  5. Indigenous cultural regeneration and resurgence
  6. Indigenous education
  7. Land is everything

We have defined settler colonialism as the continued and intersecting structures through which Indigenous peoples have been displaced from their land, cultures, and each other. In decolonization, breaking down the structure of settler colonialism disrupts the hierarchy that subordinates Indigenous people in relation to settlers and the state. This process necessarily involves committed allies, equipped with a certain critical self-awareness. Namely, anti-colonial allies must be attentive to the ways they evoke, and then divest from, settler moves to innocence (which we will explore). While addressing the intersectional needs and perspectives of Indigenous peoples and settlers alike, breaking down the settler colonial structure must stand apart from other social justice issues.

A theoretical analysis of the mechanisms of settler colonialism necessarily involves examining how power circulates, and in this class we explored the theory of discourse. Dominant discourses promoting white supremacy, capitalism, and heteropatriarchy represent and uphold power in Western society. These discourses shape how the theory is produced and valued. Subsequently, in the settler nation-state, discourses of “the West and the Rest” subordinate Indigenous peoples. The power that dominant discourses have in silencing others can effectively limit the actions that marginalized people can take in developing images and theories of themselves. An understanding of discourse, power, and theory is necessary for Indigenous peoples in the pursuit of decolonization.

While the re-shaping of discourse as described above is an integral step towards decolonization, active resistance and resurgence are necessary for putting the theory into practice. When theory is put into practice it can reaffirm Indigenous identity through the promotion of culture, language, and relationship to land and ultimately mobilize Indigenous action against the colonial state. Putting theory into practice can be done in a number of ways; both individuals and communities can bring about significant change with this tool.

Analyses of intersectionality implicate the unique contributions of both Indigenous feminisms and LGBTQ2 theory in a common effort to disrupt the hierarchy and violence of settler colonialism. Underlying our class discussions was the fact that these two bodies of theory exist separately from mainstream conceptions of gender justice, and must be addressed as such. Understanding how Indigenous feminism and Indigenous LGBTQ2 theory seek to dismantle heteropatriarchy is fundamental to the dismantling of settler colonialism.

Cultural regeneration is a powerful tool for decolonization. The process will require reassessing Indigenous education, reassertion of Indigenous legal orders, and a resurgence separate from the colonial state. Prioritization of an Indigenous spiritual revolution is key in the processes above.

In this class we explored Indigenous ways of knowing and discussed how to recreate that knowledge within the educational system both within and outside of the colonial state. These models include land-based education, classroom-based learning and transformation of the academy based on Indigenous ways of knowing. It is important to note that Indigenizing colonial education systems is not sufficient in making real change within education; these systems need to be recreated according to Indigenous epistemologies.

The land and the people are one; one cannot exist without the other. Colonization has created a spiritual crisis within Indigenous communities and is addressed in Leanne Simpson’s ‘Land is Pedagogy’. Simpson asserts that Indigenous peoples’ relationship to land and territory needs to be forefront in reclaiming sovereignty and healing the spiritual crisis. The importance of the reciprocal relationship to land for Indigenous peoples is not something of the past, but contemporary and ongoing.

Settler Colonialism and Decolonization

Settler colonialism is a structure, not an event (Wolfe 390). Settler colonialism continues to be ingrained within the systems and institutions that we live within today. Settler colonialism differs from other forms of colonialism because settlers came to this land with the intention of staying. Settler sovereignty is falsely affirmed by the settlers new home, which is “rooted in a homesteading worldview where the wild land and wild people were made for his benefit” (Tuck and Yang 6). To begin to dismantle the structure of settler colonialism, settlers and Indigenous peoples must work to understand their positions and role within the settler colonial structure. The dismantling of the colonial structure is referred to as decolonization. Essential to decolonization is the return of land, power and privilege to Indigenous peoples (Tuck and Yang 9). Decolonization is an ongoing process that asks allies to go beyond the classroom setting and participate in on-the-ground decolonial projects.

All of us – settler and Indigenous peoples – can and should participate in decolonization. Many settlers avoid decolonization by justifying their presence on this land and ways of being through ‘moves to innocence’. As described by Tuck and Yang, “Settler moves to innocence are those strategies or positionings that attempt to relieve the settler of feelings of guilt or responsibility without giving up land or power or privilege, without having to change much at all” (9). Settler moves to innocence help settlers to relieve themselves of guilt and validate their settler sovereignty.

It is also important to differentiate between settler complicity and settler privilege. Settler privilege refers specifically to “unearned benefits to live and work on Indigenous lands, and to the unequal benefits accrued through citizenship rights within the settler state”. Settler privilege is not accrued evenly by all settlers and is impacted by social positions like gender, race, sexuality, class, religion and/or culture (Jafri in Dhamoon 25). Complicity, on the other hand, involves the degree to which one accepts responsibility for one’s own place in the settler hierarchy. People can combat complicity by accepting the sovereignty of First Nations peoples, dismantling colonialism actively in one’s own circles, and supporting the efforts of First Nations to do so in tandem. Understanding the interplay between settler privilege and complicity helps to shift our attention toward “to the strategies and relations that produce social and institutional hierarchies” (Dhamoon 25). Ultimately, all peoples residing on stolen lands of Indigenous communities, and people living within the sovereign settler state are implicated in settler complicity.

There is also a need to distinguish decolonization from other civil, environmental and human-rights based social justice issues, while also recognizing that many social justice issues are related and intertwined. Intersectionality is an important component of Indigenous studies because it allows people to assess the relationships between different forms of oppression related to race, gender, age, religion, culture and class and it allows space for relationship and allyship building. It is important that when using intersectional lenses, we distinguish decolonization as a movement on its own rather than gliding into settler colonial, state based solutions (ie. Canadian or International law), which may continue to reproduce the settler colonial structure. Rather the use of intersectional lenses should work to critique the structures that seek to dominate oppressed people.

Discourse and Decolonization

According to Stuart Hall, a discourse, or discursive formation is a group of statements that orients a topic to be thought of, spoken of, and represented in a specialized way. For example: the construction of the ‘West’ in relation to the ‘Rest’ is a discursive formation, and this strategy of difference was, and continues to be, instrumental to settler-coloniality in Turtle Island, as it authorized and anchored doctrines such as Terra Nullius. What is key here, is that discourse produces meaning. Although Turtle Island was definitely not empty, the idea of Terra Nullius (empty land) was meaningful because has been acted upon through the process of colonization. This doctrine of discovery was based on racist, hypothetical facts and does not justify land theft of Indigenous peoples in North America. Put differently, discourse creates knowledge, and informs a certain practice, which means that power is enacted through discourse, and discourse is continually reproduced by carrying out of this power. Taking these points into account, how can decolonization be informed by discourse?

Again, discourse creates knowledge, and informs a certain practice–suggesting that decolonization requires the production of theory that, when enacted, reverses the practice put forth by colonial discursive formations. This process sounds daunting and permanently relegated to the realm of the theoretical, but it is already being enacted.

Putting theory into motion

Decolonization is not a metaphor

Decolonization needs to be unsettling. The oppressor and colonizer prefer to conceal the abrasive wounds they have inflicted upon Indigenous peoples and communities to protect themselves from the true realization of the atrocities committed through colonization. According to Tuck and Yang, “The metaphorization of decolonization makes possible a set of evasions, or ‘settler moves to innocence’ that problematically attempt to reconcile settler guilt and complicity, and rescue settler futurity” (1). Decolonization needs to be understood explicitly for what it represents. The language of decolonization is being simplified and “superficially adopted” (2) into other areas of social justice which detracts from Indigenous efforts to decolonize–an argument elaborated in Tuck and Yang’s third move to settler innocence: colonial equivocation (17). Simplifying the language of decolonization and using it freely perpetuates the settler state by removing Indigenous context and presence from decolonization. In Tuck and Yang’s words, it is important to understand that: “decolonization is not a metaphor. When metaphor invades decolonization, it kills the very possibility of decolonization; it recenters whiteness, it resettles theory, it extends innocence to the settler, it entertains a settler future” (3). When issues are collapsed as equivalent, such as the epidemic of missing and murdered Aboriginal women as a crime needing investigation rather than a social crisis; the voices of Indigenous communities, and an understanding of the colonial structures they exist within are undermined. These efforts by the settler state to conceal and normalize the language around Indigenous resurgence, resistance, and crisis perpetuate the grip the settler state has upon Indigenous peoples and hinders their abilities to decolonize. ‘Moves of Innocence’ is one of the tactics employed by colonizing forms of government and peoples to maintain the hand of oppression over Indigenous peoples. To fully achieve decolonization, resurgence, and reparation, complete acknowledgement needs to be established.

Putting Theory into Practice

There is a tendency within academic scholarship to theorize ad infinitum without actually examining the impact of theory on the ground. Obviously, it is of the utmost importance to convert theory into action in order to effect real, lasting change. However, this often proves easier to talk about than to do. Universities are by their nature colonial structures which have built into their bones the systems of oppression that seek to silence Indigenous voices.

One can use Taiaiake Alfred’s Wasase to help form a solid understanding of our political climate and inform our own collective movements to action. Alfred notes, that in addition to being socialized to accept colonial impositions, “governmental power is founded on fear, which is used to control and manipulate [Indigenous peoples] in many ways; so, the strategy must be to confront fear and display the courage to act against and defeat the state’s power” (20). Alfred encourages non-violent resistance, asserting that the means by which Indigenous resistance is facilitated will shape the end state between settlers and Indigenous peoples. Essentially, peace begets peace (22-23).

By the nature of our shared histories, putting theory into action is necessarily different for Indigenous peoples and settlers. As such, we have separated potential strategies for resisting colonialism here. For Indigenous peoples, the work lies largely in taking up space (as our class did in the round dance) and facilitating communication (within communities, between friends). This might look like utilizing social media to the fullest of your abilities. Demanding that your voices be heard and your faces be seen are critical as part of a larger effort to take control of your own representation. Additionally, using the knowledge we’ve gained from this class to look at mainstream media, politics, and scholarship critically is fundamental.

For settlers, this means (in addition to much of the above), using your privilege to boost Indigenous voices. A huge factor in doing this effectively is sitting with and acknowledging discomfort that arises in these discussions while expanding your theoretical knowledge base, and using that discomfort to build self-knowledge and grow. Finally, acknowledging your own investments within the issues that scholarship seeks to address (or even locating this investment in the first place) will be a key piece in putting theory into action.

Resisting and Resurgence

In discussions of Indigenous resistance, it is critical to examine specific acts of cultural resurgence. Reconnecting with the land and asserting sovereignty are important activities demonstrating cultural resurgence. We also believe resistance in colonial settings is a form of decolonization. The First Nations Indigenous Studies program is an example of decolonizing the state system, an infamous colonial space. The theories taught in FNIS are not only academic discussions but also physical manifestations of learning. Putting theory into action demonstrates resistance, resurgence and the assertion of sovereignty. Further understanding of forms of asserting sovereignty are evident reading Mohawk Interruptus. Audra Simpson highlights the communities’ efforts to assert sovereignty by highlighting their use of Iroquois passports instead of Canadian ones. This is a significant example of their assertion of “Mohawk-ness”, and resisting the identity confinements issued by the state.

Theories can also be used as tools of resurgence and decolonization. Examples are the Unist’ot’en Camp and Dechinta. A significant example of using theory as a tool of resurgence for decolonizing space is the Round Dance performed by FNIS 310. Through the classroom learnings and discussions, students were inspired to enact the process of decolonizing. FNIS 310 decided to put theory into motion by round dancing at UBC, unceded territory of the Musqueam people. The round dance is a representation of the sacred circle where everyone is included to share in. The round dance is also a form of non-violent resistance, which demonstrates the resurgence of Indigenous culture and knowledge. The class was inspired by the readings and decided to take action and put their learning in motion. The round dance brought good feelings to the class and reenergized our spirits.

Gender Justice Now!

Indigenous feminism is fundamental to ending settler colonialism and aims to elevate the voices of those that have been marginalized. Thus, it is distinct from other forms of feminism because it seeks to dismantle the very structure that mainstream feminism is founded upon. Whereas mainstream feminism recreates the heteropatriarchal system through a politics of inclusion, Indigenous feminism argues that “there cannot be feminist thought and theory without Native feminist theory” (Arvin, Tuck and Morrill 14). Indigenous feminism seeks to reimagine the very foundations that uphold settler society. These foundations are heteropatriarchy, neo-liberalism, capitalism, and white supremacy. Additionally, Indigenous Feminism seeks to address the specific issues and experiences of Indigenous peoples that result from the imposition of settler colonialism. These issues include the inherent separation of Indigenous peoples from their lands, traditions, cultures, and languages. As Arvin, Tuck, and Morrill state, “within the context of the land and settler colonialism, the issues facing Indigenous women [are] inseparable from the issues facing indigenous peoples as a whole, [and thus,] are resolved via decolonization and sovereignty, not (just) parity” (10). Heteropatriarchy has become an invisible binary that must be recognized as violence, made visible and dismantled. In order for Indigenous self-determination to be successful, gender justice must be recognized as foundational because it is in direct opposition to heteropatriarchy which typically positions straight, white men in positions of power.

As a result, without gender justice, Indigenous self-determination will exclude Indigenous women and LGBTQ2 peoples, recreating the hierarchy and violence perpetuated by settler colonialism. Therefore, marginalized peoples’ voices are necessary in understanding how settler colonialism operates because they bring specific experiential knowledge of its destructive nature. Their knowledge and experience are essential in the dialogue of recognizing the problems within the structure of settler colonialism. By understanding different experiences and creating strong coalitions of representative voices we can move forward in responsible and accountable ways.

Indigenous Cultural Regeneration and Resurgence

Spiritual Revolution

Transforming the colonial relationship by regenerating Indigenous culture and ascending from colonial forms of violence are at the heart of a resilient spiritual revolution. It is based on the notion that the root problem Indigenous peoples need to confront is the spiritual crisis that has been established through centuries of settler colonial violence (Alfred). Colonial domination has been infused into Indigenous nations, which has produced identities that are attached to the colonial project. These identities are embedded in the politics of recognition and will only be overturned through the regeneration of traditions, cultural practices and self-love; regeneration that will ultimately aid in a transformational shift in Indigenous-settler relationships. Cultural regeneration encompasses a multitude of elements that are salient to building strength in the fight against settler colonialism. Regeneration and resurgence are inherently connected in the decolonization process, which provide the foundation for action to occur. Executing a politics based in a spiritual revolution places Indigenous peoples at the centre of change that seeks to remake the entire landscape of Canada. Embodying a decolonial framework of Indigenous cultural regeneration through a spiritual revolution is about restoring a vital source of strength, which is the reconnection to spirituality, culture, and knowledge.

Indigenous Legal Orders

Indigenous people have governed themselves with their own unique legal systems since time immemorial. These legal orders are based within the land and culture itself, which is always regenerating and compassionate in terms of context. However, when settlers arrived, colonization disrupted Indigenous legal orders by imposing a foreign law based on European values. These values were not based on or recognized land relationships. They were founded upon law designed to separate an individual from his/her society, and punish them for not aligning with the so-called common good. The problem today, is many Indigenous legal systems have been devalued, and colonial law has been internalized. Napoleon states: “when laws are broken with no recourse the legal order begins to break down” (10). There has to be a resurgence of Indigenous legal orders. Indigenous law creates a basis for cultural resurgence because it protects land, language, and culture, and allows people to freely practice their traditions. It also restores a system of kinship with neighbouring nations that encourages reciprocal relationships. Furthermore, Indigenous legal orders are a tool for Indigenous sovereignty because it encompasses distinct laws and systems based on reconciliation that are unique to each nation. Indigenous legal orders are important because they provide a foundation for sovereignty and decolonization that western law does not provide.

Indigenous Diversity

The introduction to “Queer Indigenous Studies” by Driskill, Finely, Gilley and Morgensen, introduces a story by Tol Foster. Foster explains regional nationalism by detailing an oral story called “Choffee, the Rabbit Trickster Story of the Creeks”. In the story ‘fire’ is stolen from somewhere else and given to the Creek people. The story signifies that exchange and common knowledges with other tribes is central to tribal knowledge (7-8). Foster argues that in order to study specific tribes, we need to consider their interdependence with other groups and read between the lines in order to access important information. Foster (in Driskall et al., 7) warns us that “tribally specific work is necessarily incomplete if it does not have multiple perspectives and voices within it and is even incomplete if it does not acknowledge voices without as well.“ Research and education would be lacking if only few voices become representative of all voices within nations. Even external voices are important to see the whole picture. Foster does not want tribes to close off knowledge with other tribes and people. Additionally, it is important to acknowledge other voices or lack thereof that occur within communities. Foster’s argument around tribal knowledge is important when researching Indigenous communities and should serve as a reminder for everyone to consider the bigger picture at work. This is also true within Indigenous education in the academy as more work needs to be done to understand the complexity and diversity within and between nations.

Indigenous Education

Classroom based learning must use different schools of knowledge to challenge Western theory. A current issue with western education is that Aboriginal concerns are often disregarded as being unimportant. Recently, there has been more input from Indigenous writers and speakers, which is critically important, as their work deconstructs negative images of Aboriginal people and replaces them with real and meaningful narratives which reflect the past and present issues of Indigenous Peoples. The opposition of this work to the colonial academy works to restore Indigenous education and curriculum; this is a way of challenging academia and rejecting settler colonialism.

Simply indigenizing the academy will not perpetuate appropriate education for Indigenous peoples nor provide any basis for Indigenous practices. Indigenous peoples must turn to tradition, to relationship building, and to the land. A generation of Indigenous thinkers must be created in order to regenerate, resurge, and maintain cultural practices that are foundational to Indigenous life (Simpson 14). If Indigenous resurgence of culture is to take place they must “take [their] bod[ies] onto the land and do it” (Simpson 18). When Aboriginal people practice traditional intelligence, they become embodiments of it. Indigenous education shows Indigenous peoples how to act, how to practice their culture, and how to maintain peace within their relationship.

In terms of land-based pedagogy, Leanne Simpson discusses consensual engagement as ‘informed (honest)’ relationships that take into consideration all beings involved, not strictly human (15). When speaking about learning, consent is more than informed permission; it is the demonstrated ‘interest and commitment’ that makes way for learning. Without these things learning does not happen at all (15). Within a Nishnaabeg intellectual system consent is “encompassed by freedom” that allows for the establishment and maintenance of relationships to the land, ancestors and the community (16). Within Simpson’s piece, “Land as Pedagogy,” she talks about the young girl Kwezens who makes a discovery of how to make maple syrup. Kwezens represents a “vessel of resurgence”, and embodies the “coming into wisdom” that happens within true Nishnaabeg epistemology (12; 7). The story is more than a lesson on making sugar, it is about the ‘reproduction of a loving web of Nishnaabeg networks within which learning takes place’ (9). This web of relationships aides learning, facilitates resurgence and demands engagement with Nishnaabeg intelligence that strategizes decolonization. Nishnaabeg intelligence stands in opposition to the current colonial classroom that is coercive, violent in nature and intrinsically hierarchical and judgmental. If this consensual Nishnaabeg form of learning was introduced to the Western academy there would have to be a complete remodel. They are contradictory in nature, and whether they are reconcilable is questionable.

Kwezens shows us that learning is a loving, self-determining, creative, freeing, practiced process that can only happen on the land. We see that land as pedagogy literally means stepping into a consensual relationship with the land as a spiritual, emotional, contextual and intellectual pursuit (7). The story of Kwezens’ demands that Indigenous people take a “principled stand” against the colonial academy and “stop looking for legitimacy within the colonizers’ education system and return to valuing and recognizing our individual and collective intelligence on its own merits and on our own terms” (17; 22).

Land is Everything

The Spiritual Crisis of Disconnection from Land

Indigenous peoples have always been connected to the earth. Colonialism has severed these connections and has thrust Indigenous peoples into a spiritual crisis. Spirit is imbued within the sacred connections Indigenous peoples have with land. Indigenous understandings of land have been replaced with colonial lenses that are not commensurate with Indigenous understandings of the interconnections associated with the earth. The attempted destruction of these connections has been facilitated through infusing colonial domination into Indigenous nations. Colonial land theft has alienated Indigenous peoples from the life spirit of the earth, and by extension, altered their understandings of who they are. Capitalism is at the root of disconnecting Indigenous nations from the earth, as it produces the idea that land is money, land becomes objectified and commodified, instead of being a sacred bond that is connected directly to our being. This way of thinking becomes engrained in society and reproduced so that instead of reconnecting to the land as kin, we are exploiting it to participate in the capitalist economy. Quoting Wolfe again, settler colonization is a ‘structure not an event’ and the foundations of that structure require land to provide the economic capital and space to allow settler colonialism to flourish. This colonial tactic has been used to destroy nations. The root problem Indigenous peoples are faced with today is shedding these colonial identities, which Taiaiake Alfred described as a spiritual crisis.

Colonization thrives on an Indigenous spiritual crisis. Internalizing the forces of colonial domination within Indigenous communities has beguiled many Indigenous peoples into accepting that the only way to enact positive change is by engaging within the politics of recognition, which is inappropriate to addressing the root problem of colonial domination. In order to move towards a transformational shift in the Indigenous-settler relationship we must engage in a framework of regenerating connections to land. In order to decolonize, Indigenous peoples have to repatriate land and reconnect to the land, going back to the ancestral ways to connect with our relations. This is salient to cultural regeneration and prepares people for a politics of Indigenous resurgence.

Resurgence and Decolonization through Land

The people and the earth are one and through this reciprocal relationship with the earth Indigenous nations thrived. The imposed disconnect with the earth has deeply severed ancestral ways of being. Therefore, one of the core components of revitalizing and decolonizing Indigenous nations is by repatriating the earth and reconnecting through hunting, fishing and gathering medicine. The earth is essential in decolonizing because Indigenous people will be able to live and breath on the earth that has always been rightfully theirs, they will be able to practice their ancestral culture, ceremonies and way of life that are intertwined with the earth. Hence, it is through this reconnection that Indigenous people and future generations will be able to find their identities, learn their true ways of life and reject the colonial empire. The importance of earth for Indigenous peoples and the impacts of colonial land theft is at a record high due to resource development and capitalism calling for allyship through interdisciplinary measures. Listening to the earth includes looking at the condition of the environment and the health of our spirits as the earth and its people are one. By listening to the earth, we are showing respect and love to our ancestors, our community and our future generations, allowing for resurgence and reclamation of our very being.


Course Readings and Guest Speakers

Description: Seven readings in approaches to Indigenous studies, seven readings in concepts important to social analysis in Indigenous studies and one book.

Approaches – Theorizing Indigenous Studies
Audra Simpson and Andrea Smith, “Introduction” in Theorizing Native Studies, eds. Audra Simpson and Andrea Smith (Durham: Duke University Press, 2014). Available through UBC Library.

Approaches – Literary Nationalism
Craig Womack, “Introduction” Red on Red (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999).

Guest Seminar Leader – Dave Gaertner.

Approaches – Indigenous Feminism
Maile Arvin, Eve Tuck and Angie Morrill “Decolonizing Feminism: Challenging Connections Between Settler Colonialism and Heteropatriarchy” in Feminist Formations 25.1 (2013).

Approaches – Queer Indigenous Studies
Qwo-Li Driskill, Chris Finley, Brian Joseph Gilley, and Scott Lauria Morgensen, “Introduction” Queer Indigenous Studies: Critical Interventions in Theory, Politics, and Literature (Tucson: University of Arizona Press).

Guest Speaker – Lisa Tatonetti.

Approaches – Settler Colonial Studies
Patrick Wolfe, “Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native”, in Journal of Genocide Research 8.4 (2006).

Guest Speaker – Corey Snelgrove.

Approaches – Indigenous Resurgence
Taiaiake Alfred, ‘First Words’ in Wasase: Indigenous Pathways of Action and Freedom (Toronto: Broadview Press, 2005).

Approaches – Indigenous Law
Val Napoleon, “Thinking about Indigenous Legal Orders” published by Centre for First Nations Governance. Available on-line:

Guest Speaker – Johnny Mack.

Concepts – Gender/Sex/Sexuality
Jenny Davis, “”More than just ‘Gay Indians’”: Intersecting Articulations of Two-Spirit Gender, Sexuality, and Indigenousness” in Queer Excursions: Retheorizing Binaries in Language Gender, and Sexuality, eds Lal Zimman, Jenny Davis, and Joshua Raclaw (Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2014).

Guest Speaker – Sarah Hunt.

Concepts – Knowledge
Stuart Hall, “The West and the Rest: Discourse and Power” in The Indigenous Experience: Global Perspectives, eds. Roger CA Maaka and Chris Andersen (Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press, 2006).

Concepts – Power
Glen Coulthard, “Subjects of Empire: Indigenous Peoples and the ‘Politics of Recognition’ in Canada” in Contemporary Political Theory 6 (2007).

Guest Speaker – Glen Coulthard.

Concepts – Decolonization
Eve Tuck and Wayne Yang, “Decolonization is not a metaphor” in Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 1.1 (2012). Available at

Concepts – Land
Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, “Land as pedagogy: Nishnaabeg intelligence and rebellious transformation” in Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education and Society. Available at

Concepts – Kinship
Brenda Macdougall, “Wahkootowin: Family and Cultural Identity in Northwestern Saskatchewan Metis Communities” in Canadian Historical Review 87.3 (2006).

Concept – Intersectionality
Rita Dhamoon, “A Feminist Approach to Decolonizing Anti-Racism: Rethinking Transnationalism, Intersectionality and Settler Colonialism” in Feral Feminisms 4 (2015). Available On-Line:

Audra Simpson Mohawk Interruptus: Political Life Across the Boarders of Settler States (Durham: Duke University Press, 2014).

Guest Speaker – Audra Simpson


Matthew Wildcat is a sessional instructor in First Nations studies and PhD candidate in Political Science at the University of British Columbia. He is Nehiyaw (Plains Cree) and grew up in Maskwacis AB. Maskwacis consists of four Plains Cree First Nations, and Matthew is a member of Ermineskin Cree Nation.

Wildcat is the Assistant Editor of the journal Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education and Society. He works with groups Dene Nahjo and Our Voices, for emerging Indigenous leaders, where he helps facilitate their planning and governance activities. He also sits on the Board of Directors for Neyaskweyahk Group of Companies, which is wholly owned by Ermineskin Cree Nation.

Matthew holds a BA Honours in Native Studies from the University of Alberta, and an MA in Indigenous Governance from the University of Victoria. Prior to commencing his studies at UBC, he worked for three years with Maskwacis Cultural College, and Ermineskin Cree Nation.


Resistance (2015), was developed for FNIS 401F: Indigenous New Media in conjunction with FNIS 310


  1. […] for emerging authors to find their feet in the world of academic publishing. We also encourage collective statements of learning from Indigenous Studies and New Media […]

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