Corporations as a Colonizing Force

When discussing violence against Native women it is important to recognize the intersecting forces at play. Sexual violence against Native women is not just a tool of patriarchy but it is also a tool of colonialism. Colonialism, in fact, is structured by the logic of sexual violence, therefore, anti-sexual violence and anti-colonial struggles cannot be separated. Through this exhibit, I hope to highlight the way that economic practices have resulted in the decimation of Native land and bodies.

The very existence of Native people has always posed a threat to American capitalist operations because the majority of the country’s energy resources are on Native lands. Gendered violence has thus become a tool to diminish Native peoples’ hold over their lands. With a weakened hold and with the help of the BIA, it is often cheap and easy for outside corporations to exploit Native resources.

Gendered violence has been used to disrupt Native culture and insert oppressive structures that allow for other types of abuse. Andrea Smith stated,

“Those peoples who have already been rendered dirty, impure, and hence expendable are then forced to face the most immediate consequences of environmental destruction”

Native bodies have been seen as expendable ones by our government and this has definitely contributed to the fact that 100 percent of uranium production takes place on or near Indian land. Similarly, Native reservations are often targeted for toxic waste dumps and military and nuclear testing also takes place almost exclusively on Native lands. The environmental destruction that occurs on Native lands not only cheats them of what is rightfully theirs but it exerts a great toll on Native bodies as well. Katsi Cook, a Mohawk midwife, argues that “this attack upon nature is yet another attack on Native women’s bodies because the effects of toxic and radiation poisoning are most apparent in their effect on women’s reproductive systems”. In areas where there are radioactive¬†materials, Native people experience alarmingly high rates of cancer, miscarriages, and birth defects.