American Studies ETDs

Publication Date

Fall 11-7-2017


Settler colonialism is interrogated through the practice of arrest. Case studies of arrests at Standing Rock validate the historical salience of settler colonialism as a structure enabling Indigenous elimination and settler replacement that is dependent upon arrest to maintain and enhance settler lives and the settler project through unfettered access to Native land and resources for capital accumulation. Arrest is analyzed in relationship to statehood initiatives, the procuring of settler security, frontier feminism, and road signage in the masculine zones of travel in 1930s North Dakota. Contemporaneous reports from Standing Rock, the memoirs of Elaine Goodale Eastman and newspaper articles celebrating Red Tomahawk, the Oglala police officer who assassinated Sitting Bull, demonstrate the modalities through which arrest sustains settler sympathies and serves to incorporate Native people into a proper heteronormative, neoliberal subjectivity as enforcers of foreign legal codes. Critiquing and interrupting the colonial practice of arrest enables the greater security of the Indigenous women, girls, trans, and non-gender conforming who are most vulnerable to police violence. In risking arrest, Standing Rock water protectors presented a material impediment to the smooth flow of capital and demonstrated the unsettledness of the time of settler colonialism, evincing future imaginaries.




settler colonialism, indigenous feminism, whiteness, police, arrest, Lakota

Document Type


Degree Name

American Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

American Studies

First Committee Member (Chair)

Jennifer Denetdale

Second Committee Member

David Correia

Third Committee Member

Antonio Tiongson