Dr. Kaitlin Reed - NAIS Research Now - 3/5/2020
From Jessica Perea
Recent attention on the California Indian genocide – specifically, Governor Newsom’s apology – historicizes genocide and neglects its contemporary manifestations. Distinctions between genocide and ecocide stem from settler colonial orientations to land that ideologically separates humans from nature. Within indigenous epistemologies, humans are interconnected with nature. This paper examines the interconnected between three theoretical concepts: settler colonialism, genocide, and ecocide. While settler colonialism and genocide cannot be conflated, settler colonialism produces what scholar Tony Barta has referred to as “relations of genocide.” Specifically, I understand Barta’s relations of genocide as settler colonial orientations to land and environmental destruction. This often manifests in what Native American Studies scholars often refer to as cultural genocide. In addition to cultural genocide, settler colonialism must also be understood as an ecological phenomenon — and so too is genocide. Thus, to heal from the genocide that occurred in California, I argue, that both land reparations and ecological restoration must occur. Because all contemporary social problems (poverty, trauma, health disparities) can be traced back land – its dispossession or contamination – we must engage with decolonization to rectify impacts of the California Indian genocide.