Violence and Indigenous Communities

Violence and Indigenous Communities

Confronting the Past and Engaging the Present
Edited by Susan Sleeper-Smith, Jeffrey Ostler, and Joshua L. Reid

This interdisciplinary collection of essays takes a cutting-edge approach to the crucial issue of violence and Indigenous communities. In contrast to past studies that focus narrowly on war and massacre, treat Native peoples simply as victims, and consign violence safely to the past, this volume opens up important new perspectives.

While recognizing the long history of genocidal violence against Indigenous peoples, the contributors emphasize the agency of Native individuals and communities in genocide’s aftermath and provide historical and contemporary examples of activism, resistance, identity formation, historical memory, resilience, and healing. The collection also expands the scope of violence by examining topics such as the eyewitness testimony of women and children who survived violence, the role of Indigenous self-determination and governance in inciting violence against women, and settler colonialism’s promotion of cultural erasure and environmental destruction.

By including contributions on Indigenous peoples in the United States, Canada, the Pacific, Greenland, Sápmi, and Latin America, the volume breaks down nation-state and European imperial boundaries to show the value of global Indigenous frameworks. Connecting the past to the present, the volume confronts violence as an ongoing problem and identifies projects that mitigate and push back against violence.

About the Author

SUSAN SLEEPER-SMITH is a professor of history at Michigan State University and the author of six books, including Indigenous Prosperity and American Conquest: Indian Women of the Ohio River Valley, 1690–1792 and Indian Women and French Men: Rethinking Cultural Encounter in the Western Great Lakes.

JEFFREY OSTLER is the Beekman Professor of Northwest and Pacific History at the University of Oregon and the author of four books, including The Lakotas and The Black Hills: The Struggle for Sacred Ground and Surviving Genocide: Native Nations and the United States from the American Revolution to Bleeding Kansas.

JOSHUA L. REID (Snohomish) is an associate professor of American Indian studies and the John Calhoun Smith Memorial Endowed Professor of History at the University of Washington. He is the author of The Sea Is My Country: The Maritime World of the Makahs.


"Deftly ranging across historical eras and transcending the imposition of national frameworks of analysis, Violence and Indigenous Communities offers essential new directions in the study of violence and settler colonialism. Researchers, educators, activists, and community members are certain to find useful the broad geographical reach of these rich studies and to benefit from the transformative interdisciplinarity within them. The collection's insistence on conceptualizing the quotidian, everyday forms of violence as well as accompanying forms of anti-capitalist resistance makes this a particularly timely and needed collection. I can't wait to teach it and to share these rich studies with new generations of learners." —Ned Blackhawk, author of Violence over the Land: Indians and Empires in the Early American West 

“Too often, indigenous studies scholars focus on the damage and destruction caused by settler colonialism, but this collection offers a unique lens to view the accomplishments of tribal communities by focusing on the resilience of indigenous nations, who have developed many strategies and found ways to survive and flourish despite the violence of the past. This book is essential reading for indigenous scholars, students, and activists who wish to learn from, and build upon, the resilience of indigenous people throughout time.” —Sarah Deer, author of The Beginning and End of Rape: Confronting Sexual Violence in Native America