Settler colonialism as disaster; disaster as settler colonialism: Rachel E. Luft, ‘Governing disaster: The politics of tribal sovereignty in the context of (un)natural disaster’, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 2015
Abstract: Disaster is a fruitful field of study for Native scholarship – and Indigenous Studies for disaster scholarship – because it happens in the medium of land, water and air, which is the original medium of oppression, or colonization, for Native people. Using a framework ‘beyond disaster exceptionalism’, this article examines recent changes in US tribal disaster policy to explore implications both for discrete disaster events that occur on reservations and for the ongoing disaster of colonization. I use the case of a recent wildfire on the Northern Cheyenne reservation in Montana to highlight the challenge of materializing government-to-government relations through federal tribal policy. During the course of the wildfire fieldwork, the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act was passed by Congress, giving tribes the right to request a disaster declaration directly of the US president. The events of the Ash Creek fire suggest that sovereignty requires economic justice, and that legislated sovereignty remains an oxymoron.
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