• Preface
  • Key Terms
  • Oceti Sakwoin Oyate Territory and Treaty Boundaries 1851-present
  • Timeline of United States settler colonialism
  • Readings by Theme and Topic

Suggested Citation:

NYC Stands with Standing Rock Collective. 2016. “#StandingRockSyllabus.” https://nycstandswithstandingrock.wordpress.com/standingrocksyllabus/.



PDF version of the #StandingRockSyllabus including all readings (80MB)

PDF version of the #StandingRockSyllabus without readings (<1MB)



This syllabus project contributes to the already substantial work of the Sacred Stones Camp, Red Warrior Camp, and the Oceti Sakowin Camp to resist the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which threatens traditional and treaty-guaranteed Great Sioux Nation territory. The Pipeline violates the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 and 1851 signed by the United States, as well as recent United States environmental regulations. The potentially 1,200-mile pipeline presents the same environmental and human dangers as the Keystone XL pipeline, and would transport hydraulically fractured (fracked) crude oil from the Bakken Oil Fields in North Dakota to connect with existing pipelines in Illinois. While the pipeline was originally planned upriver from the predominantly white border town of Bismarck, North Dakota, the new route passes immediately above the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, crossing Lake Oahe, tributaries of Lake Sakakawea, the Missouri River twice, and the Mississippi River once. Now is the time to stand in solidarity with Standing Rock against catastrophic environmental damage.

The different sections and articles place what is happening now in a broader historical, political, economic, and social context going back over 500 years to the first expeditions of Columbus, the founding of the United States on institutionalized slavery, private property, and dispossession, and the rise of global carbon supply and demand. Indigenous peoples around the world have been on the frontlines of conflicts like Standing Rock for centuries. This syllabus brings together the work of Indigenous and allied activists and scholars: anthropologists, historians, environmental scientists, and legal scholars, all of whom contribute important insights into the conflicts between Indigenous sovereignty and resource extraction. While our primary goal is to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline, we recognize that Standing Rock is one frontline of many around the world. This syllabus can be a tool to access research usually kept behind paywalls, or a resource package for those unfamiliar with Indigenous histories and politics. Share, add, and discuss using the hashtag #StandingRockSyllabus on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media. Like those on frontlines, we are here for as long as it takes.

The NYC Stands for Standing Rock committee is a group of Indigenous scholars and activists, and settler/ PoC supporters. We belong and are responsible to a range of Indigenous peoples and nations, including Tlingit, Haudenosaunee, Secwepemc, St’at’imc, Creek (Muscogee), Anishinaabe, Peoria, Diné, Maya Kaqchikel, and Quechua. We have joined forces to support the Standing Rock Sioux in their continued assertion of sovereignty over their traditional territories. We welcome the support and participation of Indigenous peoples and allied environmental/ community/ social justice organizations in the New York area. If you can offer your organization’s support, please email NYCnoDAPL@gmail.com to let us know how you would like to be involved. Connect with us on Twitter @NYCnoDAPL and our Facebook page NYC Stands with Standing Rock.

—NYC Stands with Standing Rock Collective, Lenape territory, September 5, 2016

The NYC Stands with Standing Rock Collective contributors are:

Anne Spice (Tlingit), Audra Simpson (Kahnawake Mohawk), Crystal Migwans (Anishnaabe of Wikwemikong Unceded), Elsa Hoover (Anishnaabe), Jamey Jesperson, Jaskiran Dhillon, Margaux L KristjanssonMaria John, Matthew Chrisler, Paige West, Sandy Grande (Quechua), Sheehan Moore, Tamar Blickstein, and Teresa Montoya (Diné)

The NYC Stands with Standing Rock Collective would like to thank the following people for suggestions and guidance:

Alyosha Goldstein, Cynthia Malone, Dean Saranillio, Jerry Jacka, Jessica Barnes, Karl Jacoby, Kim TallBear (Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate), Manu Vimalassery, and Nick Estes (Lower Brule Sioux)


Key Terms

  • Capitalism
  • Dispossession
  • Doctrine of Discovery
  • Environmental racism
  • Gender violence
  • Indian Wars
  • Indigenous
  • Iŋyaŋ Wakháŋagapi Othí (Sacred Stone Camp)
  • Manifest Destiny
  • Neoliberalism
  • Oceti Sakowin Oyate (Great Sioux Nation)
  • Repatriation
  • Residential schools
  • Settler colonialism
  • Sovereignty
  • Treaty


Oceti Sakowin Oyate Territory and Treaty Boundaries 1851-present




Timeline of United States Settler Colonialism

1492-1502    Columbus leads expeditions to the “New World,” where he and his ships seeking a passage to trade ports in India establish colonies in the Antilles/Caribbean. In the pursuit of gold, Columbus and the colonists enslave and terrorize Indigenous inhabitants across the Antilles/Caribbean.

1493             Papal decrees establish that Catholic monarchs may claim the “New World” as part of their sovereign territory and dominion over peoples living there.

1500s-1888 Britain, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain colonize the Antilles/Caribbean, Turtle Island/North America, and Central and Southern Americas. Indigenous peoples are enslaved and killed, but also resist, trade, and move in relation to European empires. European empires, the United States, and later independent Caribbean and Latin American states establish plantation economies relying on enslaved Black labor. Up to the abolishing of the slave trade, European empires capture and transport approximately 15 million Indigenous people from Africa, primarily to the Caribbean and Latin America. The capital generated by the slave trade and plantation economy fuels Europe’s industrial revolution.

1676             British settlers in Virginia led by Nathaniel Bacon revolt against the Governor in order to drive out local Doeg (Algonquian) Indians. During the rebellion, indentured Europeans and enslaved Africans united, provoking elites to enact the strict Virginia Slave Codes in 1705 to divide the colonial labor force by the racial status of inheritable enslavement.

1763             Following France’s loss of the Seven Years War/French and Indian War to Britain in 1763, Britain gains the Ohio territories around the Great Lakes region, and attempts to make Native peoples of those territories subjects of British rule. To forestall Native wars, Britain passes the 1763 Royal Proclamation, forbidding the purchase of Indian lands and British settlement past the Appalachian Mountains. Elite land speculators from Southern colonies, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, begin to build opposition to British rule.

1763-1766    A confederation of Native warriors from numerous tribes begin Pontiac’s War against the British settlers and government, capturing military forts and taking back territory claimed by settlers. After two British military expeditions retake many of the forts, the fighting reaches a stalemate and the British government makes concessions to end the conflict, though does not give up claim to the Ohio territories.

1776-1791    The American Revolution ends with independence from Britain, and the Constitution of the United States lays the foundation of the new government, including the enslavement of African-descendant peoples. The new government rejects the British Proclamation of 1763 as a basis for Indigenous sovereignty.

1787             United States Northwest Ordinance opens land for white settlement in allotments, provoking Indigenous resistance.

1791-1804    Toussaint L’ouverture leads the Haitian Revolution against French plantation rule, which ends in the establishment of Haiti as an independent republic.

1803             Thomas Jefferson approves the Louisiana Purchase, purchasing from France land west of the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains.

1804             Lewis and Clark venture into Oceti Sakowin territory on the Missouri River on an army expedition to map and expand United States territorial claims. After refusing to pay tribute for their passage, they are rebuffed by the Oceti Sakowin. The US explorers take hostage two headmen—Black Buffalo and Buffalo Medicine— to secure their passage on the river and label the Oceti Sakowin “the vilest miscreants of the savage race.”

1812-1815    United States declares war with Britain in part to move beyond established western boundaries of the new nation-state. In the Northwest, Shawnee brothers Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa form a confederacy and ally with the British. The treaty of Ghent establishes firm borders between British Canada and the United States, ignoring Native land claims. The end of the war marks the last time a European or American state forms an alliance with a Native nation or confederacy.

1815             No longer checked by British competition, the United States begins removing Indians to western lands.

1816             Congress restricts licenses for trade with Indians to American citizens, effectively preventing foreign trade relations with European empires.

1823             The John Marshall Supreme Court, in its first decision on nation-to-nation relations with North American indigenous peoples, rules that “Indians had no right of soil as sovereign, independent states.”

1824             The Bureau of Indian Affairs is created within War Department of the Executive Branch.

1831             The John Marshall Supreme Court issues a second decision that “Indian tribes” are “domestic dependent nations.”

1832             The John Marshall Supreme Court issues a third decision that the United States federal government, through the commerce clause of the Constitution, had the authority to govern relations between indigenous nations and states.

1835             After the discovery of gold in Georgia, the state of Georgia pressures the Cherokee to move westward. The Treaty of New Echota provides the legal basis of Cherokee removal, though not approved by Cherokee National Council or Principal Chief.

1836-1839    The United States Army forcibly removes Cherokee along the “Trail of Tears.”

1836-1840    A smallpox epidemic in the Missouri Basin carried by American fur traders spreads to the Blackfoot, Assiniboine, Arikara, Crow, and Pawnee.

1846-1848    The Mexican-American War and Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ceded land east and north of the Rio Grande to the United States. Article XI of the Treaty stipulates that the United States must secure the new frontier lands against Indian raids, targeting Apache and Comanche who resisted both Mexican and United States expansion. Between 1850 and 1912 the Mexican Cession land is turned into ten new states.

1848             Gold discovered in California, settlers scramble West.

1849             Department of Interior is created and adopts the Bureau of Indian Affairs from the War Department.

1851             Treaty of Traverse des Sioux signed by the United States and the Dakota nations of what was Minnesota Territory. The treaty, although broken by the United States, stipulated Dakota peoples would live sedentary, agricultural lifestyles apart from white settlers and adopt Christianity in exchange for government rations and annuities for ceded lands.

1851             First Fort Laramie Treaty (the Horse Creek Treaty) signed by the United States and representatives of Arapaho, Arikara, Assiniboine, Cheyenne, Crow, Hidatsa, Mandan, and Sioux nations to guarantee safe passage of settlers to California in exchange for goods and services. Ten to fifteen thousand gathered in what is the largest gathering of Plains Nations in history. Many nations never receive payment from the United States. (See Map)

1852             California passes bounty law for Indian scalps, encouraging settlers to kill local indigenous people.

1861             The Civil War begins, leading to an increasing professionalization of the United States army. Native nations and forces fight for both the Union and Confederacy in order to preserve their lands and sovereignty.

1862             The Homestead Act opens 270 million acres of land west of the Mississippi for settlement. Settlers who lived on the land for five years, improved it, and filed an application were given ownership of the land.

1862 – 1864 Dakota frustrated by the lack of payments from the federal government, settler encroachments onto Dakota land, and other treaty violations begin the Great Sioux Uprising. Bands of Dakota attack settlers, and the United States Army is called in to protect them. United States military tribunals charge 303 Dakota of murder or rape of civilians and 38 Dakota men are sentenced to death in the largest penal execution in American history. The following year, the Bureau of Indian Affairs abolishes the Dakota reservation and forcibly moves the Dakota to Nebraska and South Dakota.

1863             The transcontinental railroad begins construction between Council Bluffs, Iowa and Sacramento, California – almost all of it on land controlled by Indigenous people.

1864             The Colorado Volunteer Cavalry destroy a Cheyenne and Arapaho village in Southern Colorado, killing more than a hundred, and display the maimed and disfigured bodies as trophies.

1864             Union Army Captain Kit Carson begins total war against the Navajo, destroying orchards, livestock, and Hogans. Carson forces the Navajo from eastern Arizona and western New Mexico to march 300 miles without aid to Fort Sumner/Bosque Redondo. There, they are interned with little support, vulnerable to weather and raids, until allowed to return to a portion of their homelands in 1868.

1865             The Civil War ends with surrender of the Confederacy. There is an increasing need for land as slavery becomes outlawed and migration to large Northern cities increases the national population. The 14th Amendment provides citizenship for Black and white people born within the United States.

1868             The Fort Laramie Treaty guarantees Sioux reservation land including the Black Hills, and hunting rights in Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota. (See Map)

1871             The Indian Appropriation Act is passed with an amendment ending treaty making with Native nations – the United States moves to deal with Native nations as internal minorities rather than sovereign nations.

1876-1877    The Great Sioux War begins after gold is discovered in Black Hills and settlers rush to the area, prompting the United States Army to violate the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty. Colonel Custer attacks Sioux and seizes the Black Hills. During the Battle of Greasy Grass (Little Bighorn), Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho forces kill Custer and a large portion of the U.S. 7th Cavalry.

1877             The United States Army is directed to kill buffalo, which are a threat to the railroad and cattle industries as well as a primary resource for Plains nations.

1877             The Black Hills Act (also known as “the Agreement of 1877,” the “Sell or Starve Act,” or the Indian Appropriations Act of 1876) cuts off government rations until the Oceti Sakowin cease hostilities and cede the Black Hills. The Black Hills were ceded but there is no record that the United States purchased the land.

1883             The United States Supreme Court rules in Ex Parte Crow Dog that, unless Congress authorizes it, federal courts have no jurisdiction over offenses tried at the tribal councils for Indian on Indian crimes. This decision began the plenary power doctrine used to limit Indigenous sovereignty (See 1885 Major Crimes Act).

1884             In Elk v. Wilkins, the United States Supreme Court holds the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of citizenship to all persons born in the U.S. does not apply to Indians, even those born within geographic confines of U.S.

1885             The Major Crimes Act establishes major Indian on Indian crimes committed in Indian Country fall under federal jurisdiction and are prosecutable by federal courts. The initial seven were murder, manslaughter, rape, assault with intent to kill, arson, burglary, and theft of personal property. In addition, eight more were added, to include kidnapping, maiming, sexual abuse, incest, assault with a dangerous weapon, assault against a minor, child abuse or neglect, and robbery.

1887             The Dawes Act grants the President authority to survey and divide Indian tribal reservation lands held in trust by the federal government and sell them to individual Indians. Those who accepted allotments and lived separately from tribes would be granted U.S. citizenship.

1889             United States violates the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty by breaking up the Great Sioux Reservation into five smaller reservations, enforcing private property ownership, agriculture, and residential schools without adequate resources. (See Map)

1890             In response to the United States breaking up of the Great Sioux Reservation, Lakota Sioux take up the Ghost Dance. The Bureau of Indian Affairs calls in the Army, which assassinates Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull. A small band of Lakota is forced to camp outside Pine Ridge Reservation at Wounded Knee Creek, where the army attempts to disarm them. The U.S. army escalates a confrontation and kills 250 to 300 Lakota, mostly women and children.

1908             In Winters v. United States, the United States Supreme Court clarifies Indian reservation rights to water by ruling that Indian reservations have water use rights that cannot be blocked through water projects.

1921             Congress passes the Snyder Act, allowing appropriation of money for Indians (regardless of blood quantum/residence) under broad authority given to the Secretary of the Interior. This greatly expands funds for Indians by releasing the federal government from a strict adherence to treaty provisions.

1924             Indians are unilaterally made citizens of the United States, furthering the project of assimilating Native nations into the United States rather than recognizing their sovereignty.

1934             Indian Reorganization Act ends allotment and replaces traditional governance structures with Western, electoral system and tribal constitutions modeled after the United States Constitution.

1944             Indian Claims Commission is set up to settle outstanding claims against the United States. Generally viewed as the beginning of the termination era.

1944             Congress passes the Pick-Sloan Missouri Basin Plan, a massive water infrastructure project meant to increase hydropower, navigability, fishing and wildlife, and recreation along the Missouri River and its tributaries. In building these projects, the Army Corps of Engineers violates the Fort Laramie Treaties and Winters doctrine supporting the sovereignty of tribal lands, consultation, and access to water.

1944             National Congress of American Indians is established (Denver, Colorado) in anticipation of federal termination and assimilation policies in order to resist the elimination of tribal status.

1945             President Truman enters office and directs the Bureau of Indian Affairs to focus on termination and the assimilation of Indians into American Cold War society. From 1945-1960 the federal government terminates over 100 tribes and bands.

1948             Construction begins on the Lake Oahe dam for the Pick-Sloan Missouri Basin Program, and is completed in 1962. The Lake Oahe dam destroys more Native land than any other water project in the United States, and eliminates 90% of timber land on the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne Sioux Reservations, along with grazing and agricultural land.

1949             The Hoover Commission recommends “termination” of Native reservations, and assimilation of Indians into American cities and society, reversing the Roosevelt New Deal policies and returning to 19th century politics of assimilation.

1952             House Joint Resolution 698 establishes criteria and guidelines for the termination of trustee status of Indian tribes and reservations. This is followed by several standalone termination resolutions, some of which immediately terminated dozens of tribes.

1953             Public Law 280 moves authority and jurisdiction over tribal lands and resources from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to the states in which tribes and reserves are located.

1961             Over 200 tribes gather in Chicago at the American Indian Chicago Conference. The Declaration of Indian Purpose is drafted for submission to Congress.

1961             From the Chicago Conference, the National Indian Youth Council is formed in Gallup, New Mexico, beginning the Red Power Movement.

1968             Congress passes the American Indian Civil Rights Act (loosely modeled on the protection the U.S. Constitution provides against state and local governments). It provides individual Indians with some statutory protection against their tribal governments.

1969             Occupation of Alcatraz by American Indian Movement to reclaim traditional land. Simultaneously, sit-ins are staged at the offices of the BIA.

1960s-1970s   Creation of tribal colleges.

1970             In a special message to Congress on Indian Affairs, President Richard Nixon calls for the repeal of termination laws and the inauguration of the era of self-determination through self-help and community programming.

1971             The Alaska Natives Claims Settlement Act is passed. This saw 90% of Alaska Natives’ land claims exchanged for a guarantee of 44 million acres and $1 billion.

1972             Trail of Broken Treaties Caravan. Several Indigenous-led groups (close to 200 Indians in total) began caravaning from the West coast to Washington D.C. to present President Nixon with a 20-point position paper demanding the United States respect the sovereignty of Indian nations. After Nixon refuses to meet with the Caravan, they occupy the Bureau of Indian Affair headquarters for a week until Nixon aides agreed to treaty negotiations.

1973             Wounded Knee Occupation. Oglala Lakota and American Indian Movement members occupy the town of Wounded Knee in the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to protest against the corrupt reserve governance structure. The Occupation lasts for 71 days and calls for re-establishment of United States treaty obligations and nation-to-nation relations with Indian nations in the United States. AIM member Leonard Peltier is held in federal prison for the murder of two FBI agents despite evidence that his trial was unconstitutional and unfair.

1974             First meeting of the International Indian Treaty Council, the international arm of AIM, meets in Standing Rock Indian Reservation. More than 2000 people from 90 Indigenous Nations attend and issue “The Declaration for Continuing Independence.”

1975             The Indian Self-Determination and Education Act is passed. Tribal governments get more control over their tribal affairs and can appropriate more funds for education.

1978             In Oliphant v. Squamish Indian Tribe, the United States Supreme Court reverses lower court decisions and decides that Indian tribes do not have jurisdiction over non-Natives on tribal or reservation land.

1980             U.S. government rules that the U.S. illegally seized the Black Hills in 1877, and offers $15.5 million (1877 price of the land) plus $105 million (5% interest on the land over 103 years). The Lakota refuse and demand return of land from the United States.

1980             The Penobscots and Passamaquoddies accept monetary compensation from the US Government for their lands (now the state of Maine), which the Massachusetts government took illegally in 1970.

1986             Congress amends the Indian Civil Rights Act and grants tribal courts the power to impose criminal penalties.

1988             Congress officially repeals the Termination Policy.

1993             Ada Deer is appointed Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs by President Bill Clinton. She is the first Indian woman to hold the position.

1994             Three hundred representatives from the 556 federally recognized tribes meet with President Bill Clinton. This is the first time since 1822 that Indians have been invited to officially meet with a US President to discuss Indian affairs.

1994             The Violence Against Women Act is passed, which does not have provisions for tribal prosecution of domestic and sexual crimes against Native women by non-Native men.

1996             The University of Arizona creates the first PhD program in American Indian Studies.

1998             Four thousand Alaska Natives march in Anchorage in protest of Alaska legislative and legal attacks on tribal governments and Native hunting and fishing traditions.

1998             President Clinton issues Executive Order No.13084 (“Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments”). This pledges that the federal government will establish and uphold meaningful consultation and collaboration with Indian tribal governments in matters that will significantly impact their communities.

1998             The Makah Nation of Washington State renews its traditional practice of whaling after a respite of seventy years, despite protests from many environmentalists and other groups.

1999             President Clinton visits the Pine Ridge Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. He is the first sitting President since Calvin Coolidge in 1927 to make an official visit to an Indian Reservation.

2000             The United States Supreme Court declines to review a religious freedom case centering around the use of Devils Tower in Wyoming, a sacred site to several Indian nations. This decision upholds a federal court ruling that supported the religious rights of Indians against challenges from recreational rock climbers.

2002             In a blow to the Makah Nation, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules in Anderson v. Evans, in a case brought by animal advocacy groups, that the government had violated the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to prepare an environmental impact statement prior to approving the whaling quota and also held that the Marine Mammal Protection Act applied to the tribe’s proposed whale hunt.

2002             President Bush signs an executive order reaffirming the federal government’s commitment to tribally-controlled colleges and universities.

2004             In United States v. Lara the Supreme Court holds that tribal courts had the inherent sovereign power to criminally prosecute nonmember Indians and that such power did not violate the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment double jeopardy clause.

2004             In Boneshirt v. Hazeltine, a Federal district court rules that South Dakota violated the 1965 federal Voting Rights Act when it approved a statewide redistricting plan that had the effect of diluting the voting power of Indians in two districts.

2006             Congress enacts the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act of 2006 (PL 109-394) to ensure the survival and continuing vitality of Native American languages.

2007             The United Nations adopts the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The United States, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia vote against the Declaration’s adoption.

2008             The Supreme Court in Plains Commerce Bank v. Long Family Land and Cattle Company Inc. holds that tribal courts lack jurisdiction to decide a discrimination claim concerning a non-Indian bank’s sake of fee land that it owned within a reservation.

2009             President Obama signs a presidential memorandum seeking to renew and enhance the spirit of tribal consultation and collaboration previously outlined by the Clinton administration.

2010             The North Dakota Supreme Court supports a Board of Higher Education decision to retire the University of North Dakota’s Fighting Sioux nickname and logo.

2012             HEARTH Act allows tribal governments to approve leasing of tribal lands: The Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Home Ownership Act of 2012 (the HEARTH Act) creates a voluntary, alternative land leasing process available to tribes by amending the Indian Long-Term Leasing Act of 1955, 25 U.S.C. Sec. 415.

2012             The Oglala Sioux Tribe of South Dakota sued some of the world’s largest beer makers for $500 million claiming they knowingly contributed to alcohol-related problems on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

2013             The Violence Against Women Act is reauthorized, and includes provisions where tribal governments may prosecute non-Natives, but only those who are accused of sexual or domestic violence against Natives with whom they have intimate relationships or other close ties. The legislation excludes Alaska Natives.

2013             Members of Congress took part in a ceremony bestowing the Congressional Gold Medal to honor 33 tribes for their WWI and WWII contributions as code talkers.

2014             President Obama speaks at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota promoting the need to help reservations create jobs. At the time, some 63% of able workers at Standing Rock were unemployed on the 2.3 million-acre reservation, which is home to some 850 residents.

2015             In February, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the federal government body in charge of the nation’s waterways, initiates the Dakota Access Pipeline Project. By December, The Corps publishes an environmental assessment stating that “the Standing Rock THPO had indicated to DAPL that the Lake Oahu site avoided impacts to tribally significant sites.” The Corps eventually receives critical letters on the assessment from the Environmental Protection Agency, the US Department of Interior, and the American Council on Historical Preservation (ACHP). Other tribes whose ancestral lands are slated to be crossed by the pipeline voice their concerns in solidarity with Standing Rock, including the Osage Nation and Iowa Tribe THPO, who wrote to the ACHP: “We have not been consulted in an appropriate manner about the presence of traditional cultural properties, sites, or landscapes vital to our identity and spiritual well-being.”

2016             In August, the Standing Rock Sioux, represented by Earthjustice, file an injunction, suing the Army Corps of Engineers. Eleven days later, Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company of Dakota Access LLC, sues the Standing Rock Sioux chairman and other tribal members for blocking construction.

Readings by Theme and Topic

In the syllabus, we have marked as precisely as possible the nationalities and affiliations of Indigenous scholars, though we accept that any shortcomings are ours alone.

Basics of Settler Colonialism

  • Kauanui, J. Kēhaulani (Kanaka Maoli) and Patrick Wolfe, “Settler Colonialism Then and Now.” Politica & Societa 2: 235-258. (PDF)
  • Snelgrove, Corey, Rita Dhamoon, Jeff Corntassel (Cherokee). 2014. “Unsettling settler colonialism: The discourse and politics of settlers, and solidarity with Indigenous nations.” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 3 (2): 1-32. (PDF)
  • Tuck, Eve (Aleut) and K. Wayne Yang. 2012. “Decolonization is Not a Metaphor.” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education, Society 1(1): 1-40. (PDF)
  • Wolfe, Patrick. 2006. “Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native.” Journal of Genocide Research 8(4): 387-409. (PDF)

Indigenous History of North America

  • Blackhawk, Ned (Western Shoshone). 2006. “Introduction: The Indigenous Body in Pain” in Violence over the Land: Indians and Empires in the Early American West. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. (PDF)
  • Blackhawk, Ned (Western Shoshone). 2014. “Remember the Sand Creek Massacre.” New York Times, November 27, 2014.  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/28/opinion/remember-the-sand-creek-massacre.html
  • Deloria Jr., Vine (Standing Rock Sioux). 1969. “The Disastrous Policy of Termination” in Custer Died for your Sins: An Indian Manifesto. New York: MacMillan. (PDF)
  • Dunbar-Ortiz, Roxanne. 2014. “Introduction” and “‘Indian Country’” in An Indigenous People’s History of the United States. New York: Beacon Press. (PDF)
  • Ostler, Jeffrey. 2016. “‘Just and Lawful War’” as Genocidal War in the (United States) Northwest Ordinance and Northwest Territory, 1787–1832.” Journal of Genocide Research 18(1): 1-20. (PDF)

United States Indian Policy, Sovereignty and Treaty-Making

  • Barker, Joanne (Lenape). 2005. “For Whom Sovereignty Matters” in Sovereignty Matters: Locations of Contestation and Possibility in Indigenous Struggles for Self-Determination. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Pp: 1-31. (PDF)
  • Deloria Jr, Vine (Standing Rock Sioux). 1969. “Laws and Treaties.” in Custer Died for Your Sins; An Indian Manifesto. New York: Macmillan. (PDF)
  • Leeds, Stacy L (Cherokee). 2005. “By Eminent Domain or Some Other Name: A Tribal Perspective on Taking Land.” Tulsa Law Review 41(1): 51-77. (PDF)

Oceti Sakowin Oyate (Sioux Nation), Standing Rock Reserve, and Standoff

Further reading

  • Waggoner, Josephine (Hunkpapa, Standing Rock Sioux). 2013. Witness: A Hunkpapa Historian’s Strong-Heart Song of the Lakotas. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

Oceti Sakowin Oyate Territorial Sovereignty

  • Charger, Harry (Cheyenne River Sioux), Ione V. Quigley (Rosebud Sioux), and Ulrike Wiethaus. 2008. “Foundations of Lakota Sovereignty” in Foundations of First Peoples’ Sovereignty, 159-177. Edited by Ulrike Wiethaus. New York: Peter Lang Publishing. (PDF)
  • Dunbar-Ortiz, Roxanne. 2016. “The Great Sioux Nation and the Resistance to Colonial Land Grabbing.” Beacon Broadside September 12, 2016. http://www.beaconbroadside.com/broadside/2016/09/the-great-sioux-nation-and-the-resistance-to-colonial-land-grabbing.html
  • Dunbar-Ortiz, Roxanne. “The Great Sioux Nation” in An Indigenous People’s History of the United States. New York: Beacon Press.  (PDF)
  • Fort Laramie Treaty, 1868. http://www.ailesdudesir.com/bac/laramie/FORT%20LARAMIE%20TREATY%20OF%201868.pdf
  • Fowler, Loretta. 2007. “Tribal Sovereignty Movements Compared: The Plains Region” in Beyond Red Power: American Indian Politics and Activism Since 1900, 209-227. Edited by Daniel M. Cobb and Loretta Fowler. Santa Fe: SAR Press. (PDF)
  • “Great Sioux Agreement, 25 Stat. 888.” 1889. In Of Utmost Good Faith. Vine Deloria Jr (Standing Rock Sioux), ed. New York: Bantam. (PDF)
  • Valandra, Edward (Rosebud Sioux). 1992. “U.S. Citizenship: The American Policy to Extinguish the Principle of Lakota Political Consent.” Wicazo Sa Review 8(2): 24-29. (PDF)

Policing Nations: Settler Colonialism, Police and State Violence

  • Hubbard, Tasha (Nehiyaw/Nakawe/Metis). 2014. “Buffalo Genocide in Nineteenth-century North America: ‘Kill, Skin, and Sell’” in Colonial Genocide in Indigenous North America(PDF)
  • Hunt, Sarah (Kwakwaka’wakw). 2013. “Law, Colonialism and Space” in Witnessing the Colonialscape: Lighting the Intimate Fires of Indigenous Legal Pluralism. Dissertation. Vancouver; Simon Fraser University. (PDF)
  • Nichols, Robert. 2014. “The colonialism of incarceration.” Radical Philosophy Review 17(2), 435- 455. (PDF)
  • Ross, Luana (Confederated Salish and Kootenai). 1998. “Part 1: Colonization and the Social Construction of Deviance: New Worlds, New Indians” in Inventing the Savage: The Social Construction of Native American Criminality. Austin: University of Texas Press. (PDF)
  • Stark, Heidi K. (Turtle Mountain Ojibwe). 2016. “Criminal Empire:  The Making of the Savage in a Lawless Land.” Theory & Event  19(4): in press. (PDF)

Gender, Sexuality, and Indigenous Lifeways

  • Finley, Chris (Colville Confederated Tribes). 2011. “Decolonizing the Queer Native Body (and Recovering the Native Bull-Dyke): Bringing ‘Sexy Back’ and Out of Native Studies’ Closet.” Queer Indigenous Studies: Critical Interventions in Theory, Politics, and Literature, 31-42. Tucson: U of Arizona. (PDF)
  • Lugones, Maria. “Heterosexualism and the Colonial / Modern Gender System.” 2007. Hypatia 22(1): 186-209. (PDF)
  • Miranda, Deborah A. (Ohlone-Costanoan Esselen Nation, Chumash). 2010. “Extermination of the Joyas: Gendercide in Spanish California.” GLQ: A Journal
    of Lesbian and Gay Studies 
    16(1-2): 253-84. (PDF)
  • Oceti Sakowin Two Spirits, LGBTQ+, and Supporters. 2016. “This Land Was Made for Decolonized Love.” Indian Country Today March 7, 2016: http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2016/03/07/land-was-made-decolonized-love
  • Stevens, James Thomas (Akwesasne Mohawk). 2010. “Poetry & Sexuality: Running Twin Rails” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 16(1-2): 183-89. (PDF)
  • Vowel, Chelsea (Métis). 2012. “Language, culture, and Two-spirit identity.” âpihtawikosisan | Law, language, life: A Plains Cree speaking Métis woman living in Montreal March 29, 2012. http://apihtawikosisan.com/2012/03/language-culture-and-two-spirit-identity/.
  • Wesley, Saylesh (Stó:lõ, Tsimshian). 2014. “Twin-Spirited Woman: Sts’iyoye Smestiyexw Slha:li.” TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly 1(3): 338-51. (PDF)
  • Wilson, Alexandria (Opaskwayak Cree Nation). 2015. “Two-spirit people, body sovereignty, and gender self-determination.” Red Rising Magazine September 21, 2015. http://redrisingmagazine.ca/two-spirit-people-body-sovereignty-and-gender-self-determination/.

Gendered Violence and Settler Colonialism

  • Amnesty International. 2004. Stolen Sisters: A Human Rights Response to Discrimination and Violence against Indigenous Women in Canada. (PDF)
  • Casselman, Amy. 2015. Injustice in Indian Country: Jurisdiction, American Law, and Sexual Violence Against Native Women. New York: Peter Lang Publishing.  (PDF)
  • Deer, Sarah (Muscogee). 2015. The Beginning and End of Rape: Confronting Sexual Violence in Native America. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 
  • Dhillon, Jaskiran. 2015. “Indigenous Girls and the Violence of Settler Colonial Policing.” Decolonization, Indigeneity, Education, and Society 4(2): 1-31. http://decolonization.org/index.php/des/article/view/22826
  • Heatherton, Christina. 2016.  “Policing the Crisis of Indigenous Lives:  An Interview with the Red Nation” in Policing the Planet:  Why the Policing Crisis Led to Black Lives Matter. Edited by Jordan T. Camp and Christina Heatherton. London: Verso. (PDF)
  • Human Rights Watch. 2013. Those Who Take us Away:  Abusive Policing and Failures in Protection of Indigenous Women and Girls in North British Columbia, Canada. https://www.hrw.org/report/2013/02/13/those-who-take-us-away/abusive-policing-and-failures-protection-indigenous-women
  • Razack, Sherene. 2002. “Gendered Racial Violence and Spatialized Justice: The Murder of Pamela George” in Race, Space and the Law: Unmapping a White Settler Society. Toronto: Between the Lines. http://web.uvic.ca/~ayh/104%20Razack%20WS104.PDF
  • Sayers, Naomi. (Garden River Anishnaabe). 2014. #MMIW: A critique of Sherene Razack’s piece exploring the trial of Pamela George’s murder.” Kwe Today. December 2014.https://kwetoday.com/2014/12/26/mmiw-a-critique-of-sherene-razacks-exploration-of-the-trial-of-the-murder-of-pamela-george/
  • Simpson, Audra (Kahnawake Mohawk). 2016 “The State is a Man: Theresa Spence, Loretta Saunders and the Gender of Settler Sovereignty.” Theory & Event  19 (4): in press. (PDF)
  • Young, Kalaniopua (Kanaka Maoli). 2015. “From a Native Trans daughter: Roots of an Indigenous Abolitionist Imaginary.” Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex. San Francisco: AK Press. (PDF)

Indigenous Activism and Contemporary Solidarity and Struggle in North America


Environmental Racism and Dispossession

  • Checker, Melissa. 2007.  “‘But I Know It’s True’: Environmental Risk Assessment, Justice, and Anthropology.” Human Organization 66(2): 112-124. (PDF)
  • O’Rourke, Dara  and Sarah Connelly. 2003. “Just Oil? The Distribution of Environmental and Social Impacts of Oil Production and Consumption.” Annual Review of Environment and Resources 28: 587-617. (PDF)
  • Pellow, David N. 2016. “Toward a Critical Environmental Studies: Black Lives Matter as an Environmental Justice Challenge.” DuBois Review: Social Science Research on Race. https://www.academia.edu/27800797/TOWARD_A_CRITICAL_ENVIRONMENTAL_JUSTICE_STUDIES_Black_Lives_Matter_as_an_Environmental_Justice_Challenge
  • Pulido, Laura. 2016. “Geographies of Race and Ethnicity: Environmental Racism, Racial Capitalism, and State Sanctioned Violence.” Progress in Human Geography. (PDF)
  • Voyles, Traci. 2015. “Preface” and “Introduction” in Wastelanding: Legacies of Uranium Mining in Navajo Country. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. (PDF)

Resources, Infrastructure, and Settler Colonialism

  • Allison III, James Robert. 2015. Sovereignty for Survival: American Energy Development and Indian Self-Determination. New Haven: Yale University Press. (PDF)
  • Barker, Joanne (Lenape). 2015. “The Corporation and the Tribe.” American Indian Quarterly 39(3): 243-270. (PDF)
  • Caposella, Peter. 2015. “Impact of the Army Corps of Engineers’ Pick-Sloan Program in the Missouri Basin.” Journal of Environmental Law and Litigation 30: 143-218. (PDF)
  • Li, Fabiana. 2013. Relating Divergent Worlds: Mines, Aquifers and Sacred Mountains in Peru. Anthropologica 55(2): 399-411. (PDF)
  • Nash, June. 2007. “Consuming Interests: Water, Rum, and Coca-Cola from Ritual Propitiation to Corporate Expropriation in Highland Chiapas.” Cultural Anthropology, 22(4): 621-639. (PDF)
  • Ojibwa. 2010. “Dam Indians: The Missouri River.” Native American Netroots. http://nativeamericannetroots.net/diary/406
  • Pasternak, Shiri. 2014. “Occupy(ed) Canada: The Political Economy of Indigenous Dispossession” in The Winter we Danced: Voices From the Past, the Future, and the Idle No More Movement, 40-43. The Kino-nda-niimi Collective. (PDF)
  • Rose, Christina. 2015. “Echoes of Oak Flat: 4 Sloan Dams that Submerged Native Land.” Indian Country Today Media Network. http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/09/11/echoes-oak-flat-4-pick-sloan-dams-submerged-native-lands-161661
  • Toledano, Michael. 2015. “In British Columbia, indigenous group blocks pipeline development.” Al Jazeera, August 20. http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/8/20/in-canada-police.html
  • Worster, Donald. 1992. “Empire: Water and the Modern West” in Rivers of Empire: Water, Aridity, and the American West, 257-326. Oxford University Press. (PDF)

Further Reading

  • Lawson, Michael L. 2009. Dammed Indians Revisited: The Continuing History of the Pick-Sloan and the Missouri River Sioux. Pierre: South Dakota Historical Society Press.

Fracking, Oil, and the Environment

  • Caraher, William and Kyle Conway. The Bakken Goes Boom: Oil and the Changing Geographies of Western North Dakota (Selections). Grand Forks: The University of North Dakota Press: https://digitalpressatund.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/caraher_conway_bakkengoesboomv2.pdf
  • de Rijke, Kim. 2013. “Hydraulically fractured: Unconventional gas and anthropology.” Anthropology Today 29(2): 13-17. (PDF)
  • Kelley, Colin P., Shahrzad Mohtadi, Mark A. Cane, Richard Seager, Yochanan Kushnir. 2014. “Climate Change in the Fertile Crescent and Implications of the Recent Syrian Drought.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 112(11): 3241-3246. http://www.pnas.org/content/112/11/3241(PDF)
  • Laduke, Winona (Mississippi Band Anishinaabeg). 2016. Native American Activist Winona LaDuke at Standing Rock: It’s Time to Move On from Fossil Fuels. Democracy Now! September 12, 2016. Video link(PDF)
  • Love, Thomas. 2008. “Anthropology and the Fossil Fuel Era.” Anthropology Today 24(2): 3-4. (PDF)
  • Mitchell, Timothy. 2013. “Introduction,” “Fuel Economy,” and “Sabotage” in Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil. Verso. (PDF)
  • Willow, Anna J. and Sara Wylie. 2014. “Politics, ecology, and the new anthropology of energy: exploring the emerging frontiers of hydraulic fracking.” Journal of Political Ecology 21: 222-236. (PDF)

Native Representation, Popular Culture and Criticism

  • Bruyneel, Kevin. (forthcoming). “Race, Colonialism, and the Politics of Indian Sports Names and Mascots: The Washington Football Team Case.” NAIS: The Journal of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association. (PDF)
  • Cook-Lynn, Elizabeth (Crow Creek Sioux). 1991. “The Radical Conscience of Native American Studies.” Wicazo Sa Review 7(2): 9-13. (PDF)
  • Cook-Lynn, Elizabeth (Crow Creek Sioux). 2001. “Anti-Indianism and Genocide: The Disavowed Crime Lurking at the Heart of America” in Anti-Indianism in Modern America,185-95. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press. (PDF)
  • Cook-Lynn, Elizabeth (Crow Creek Sioux). 2001. “Reconciliation: Dishonest in Its Inception, Now a Failed Idea” in Anti-Indianism in Modern America: A Voice from
    Tatekeya’s Earth, 159-170. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press. (PDF)
  • Keene, Adrienne (Cherokee). 2013. “Urban Outfitters is Obsessed with Navajos.” Native Appropriations, September 23, 2013. http://nativeappropriations.com/2011/09/urban-outfitters-is-obsessed-with-navajos.html
  • Keene, Adrienne (Cherokee). 2016. “Magic in North America Part 1: Ugh.” Native Appropriations March 8, 2016. http://nativeappropriations.com/2016/03/magic-in-north-america-part-1-ugh.html
  • Martineau, Jarrett (Cree/ Frog Lake Dene). 2014. “An interview with Tania Willard on Beat Nation, Indigenous curation and changing the world through art.”  Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 3(1): 218-224. http://decolonization.org/index.php/des/article/view/21318/17380

Education, Schooling and Pedagogy (affiliations still being updated)

  • Battiste, Marie (Mi’kmaq). 2011. “Introduction” and “Maintaining Aboriginal Identity, Language, and Culture in Modern Society.” Reclaiming Indigenous voice and vision. UBC Press. (PDF) (PDF)
  • Deloria Jr, Vine. (Standing Rock Sioux) and Daniel Wildcat. 2001. Power and Place: Indian Education in America. Boulder: American Indian Graduate Center. vine-deloria-jr-daniel-r-wildcat-power-and-place-indian-education-in-america
  • Grande, Sandy (Quechua). 2015. Selections and Responses from Red pedagogy: Native American social and political thought. Rowman & Littlefield. (PDF) (PDF) (PDF) (PDF)
  • Grande, Sandy (Quechua). 2003. “Whitestream feminism and the colonialist project: A review of contemporary feminist pedagogy and praxis.” Educational Theory 53(3): 329-346. (PDF)
  • McCarty, Teresa L. 2004. “Dangerous difference: A critical-historical analysis of language education policies in the United States.” Medium of instruction policies: Which agenda? Whose agenda, 71-96. (PDF)
  • Patel, Leigh. 2015. Decolonizing Educational Research: From Ownership to Answerability. Routledge. (PDF)
  • Simpson, Leanne (Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg and Alderville First Nation). 2002. “Indigenous environmental education for cultural survival.” Canadian Journal of Environmental Education (CJEE) 7(1): 13-25. (PDF)
  • Smith, Linda Tuhiwai (Mâori). 1999. Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples, 143-164. Zed books. (PDF)
  • Stewart-Harawira, Makere (Waitaha Mâori). 2013. “Challenging Knowledge Capitalism: Indigenous Research in the 21st Century.” Socialist Studies/Études Socialistes 9(1). (PDF)
  • Wildcat, Matthew (Plains Cree), et al. 2014. “Learning from the land: Indigenous land based pedagogy and decolonization.” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 3(3). (PDF)

Visualizing Resistance, Water Protectors

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126 thoughts on “#StandingRockSyllabus

  1. Perhaps I have not looked deeply enough, but I am curious as to how historical/generatonal trauma effects research may be included in the syllabus since it is a healh disparity topic of great significance for care providers’ understanding and culturally appropriate treatment in addiction and mental health care. I recommend the works of Duran Duran and Maria Brave Heart-Yellow Horse.


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