Guest Post: Native American History & the Explanatory Potential of Settler Colonialism

Today’s post comes from Bryan Rindfleisch, Assistant Professor of History at Marquette University. Bryan received his Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma in 2014.  He is currently working on a book that examines the intersections of colonial, Native, imperial, and Atlantic histories, peoples, and places in eighteenth-century North America. This is his second post for The Junto. The first can be found here.

51auvvdbpil-_ac_ul320_sr208320_One of the trending themes in Native American history is “Settler Colonialism.” From Patrick Wolfe’s foundational essay, to recent works by historians and literary scholars—Bethel Saler, Jodi Byrd, Gregory Smithers, David Preston, and Lisa Ford, for instance—this theoretical model has attracted significant attention within the field.[1]

In fact, I’ve deployed this concept as the framework for my upper-division class, “A History of Native America, 1491–Present,” at Marquette. But over the past several weeks it has become evident that settler colonialism is a bit of a minefield. Nevertheless, I find it to be an apt, if not critical, theory for researching and teaching Native American history. But it must be understood, and it must be used responsibly. Continue reading