Indigenous Cultural Values Counter the Damages of White Settler Colonialism

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Environmental Sociology

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Settler colonialism is a violent process that harms all beings. We build upon environmental justice frameworks and argue for Indigenous values affirmation as a strategy for countering the violence of settler colonialism. We discuss the findings of a pilot project to create an Indigenous values affirmation tool with Indigenous peoples in the U.S. to provide context for our argument. We draw from Indigenous-centered literature, including Bacon’s colonial ecological violence, and assert that settler systems, and analyses rooted in settler logics, are inadequate because of their inherent inability to meaningfully and critically engage with colonization. This ignorance causes academic fields of study to be damaged-centred in their gaze on Indigenous peoples, or to ignore or render Indigenous peoples invisible or disappeared. Equity is not imaginable, and justice is impossible, within these frameworks. Centring Indigenous people and values have great potential to contribute to environmental sociology. We urge environmental sociologists to honour Indigenous ways of knowing and being in efforts to counter settler colonial violence that plagues all peoples. Doing so will open up new possibilities for healing the environment, and humans’ relations with Mother Earth and all beings.


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