Settler colonialism and its ends: Elspeth Martini, ‘Borderlands, Indigenous Homelands, and North American Settler Colonialism’, Reviews in American History, 45, 3, 2017, pp. 416-422


Excerpt: Both of these books tell histories of peoples whose nineteenth-century homelands fell within the “northern borderlands” surrounding the U.S–Canadian border. And each, in different ways, evokes the struggles of indigenous peoples who attempted to retain their homelands, as settlers and government agents sought to dispossess and expel them. John Bowes’ wonderful study of Northern Indian removal encompasses the borderlands of the Great Lakes, but it ultimately tells a (mostly) U.S.–focused history that challenges the customary narrative of Indian removal. Generally such narratives are dominated by the Indian Removal Act and the experiences of the Cherokees. Michel Hogue, in contrast, focuses more directly on the politics of the U.S.–Canadian border, masterfully recreating the world of the early nineteenth-century Northern Plains where the Plains Metis emerged and thrived, only to be excluded during the later nineteenth century by U.S. and Canadian settler regimes. As well as making substantive contributions to North American historiography, these works also contribute to the movement among North American scholars to incorporate theories of “settler colonialism.” So while they tell the histories of different peoples, they both frame their narratives with an eye to the more widespread, longer-term dynamics through which North American indigenous homelands became the territories of the United States and Canada.

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