Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide

Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide

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John Ahni Schertow
November 17, 2007
 

In the following video, you will hear Indigenous scholar and activist Andrea Smith give a lecture on the topic of her book, “Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide.” The lecture took place in Grand Rapids, Michigan on February 7, 2006.

In the first portion of the lecture, Andrea, a co-founder of INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, primarily focuses on two issues: sexual violence within Indigenous communities, and the role of sexual violence and patriarchy in colonial policy.

She explores, for one, how America historically came to see the subjugation of women as a necessary to exert colonial (hierarchal) control over Indigenous Communities; and how today, there is a striking silence in indigenous communities about sexual violence. Rape victims who seek support outside native communities are frequently ostracized and met with opposition from other natives who oppose the “airing of the community’s dirty laundry.” In this lecture, Andrea ‘opens the door’ to allow Indigenous communities to start talking about the serious and destructive matter of sexual abuse.

If we do not start talking about it, and if we do not start taking steps to end sexual violence and the subjugation of women, than ‘the laundry’ will continue to fester and rot our communities and identities from the inside-out. (NB This painful truth is very desirable for colonial states, especially now. A new trend is emerging in the world where states take it upon themselves to ‘intervene’ in such issues. We’re seeing it happen in Australia right this second, and it may soon happen in Brazil aswell. Stay tuned for more on that).

Andrea also puts the issue of sexual abuse into a broader perspective, and goes on to discuss several strategies and tactics for organizing. She Stresses the importance of those working for social change in the United States to build true mass movements, similar to those in South and Central America.

She says it’s very important for resistance to develop in isolated communities, but it also needs to be spread into other communities in order to effectively fight colonialism. To accomplish this, the very basis of organization and activism needs to change.

If you would like to read more about the issue of colonialism and sexual violence, please see here. Also please do not hesitate to share your thoughts or provide more resources for people in the comments below.

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