"We are Not Red Indians" (We Might all Be Red Indians) Anticolonial Sovereignty Across the Borders of Time, Place and Sentiment


In a 2004 interview Yasser Arafat, in a state of near confinement and exhaustion, reflected upon his incapacity to move without the immediate threat of assassination, about the Palestinian right of return, about American elections, and his achievements. Among these achievements was the fact that "the Palestine case was the biggest problem in the world" and that Israel had "failed to wipe us out."

As a final mark of that success, he added the declarative and comparative and final point of distinction, "we are not red Indians." This paper uses this point of comparison of a departure point to reflect upon the deep specificity and global illegibility of Indigenous struggle and life in the face of death and dispossession in North America. In order to do so I will choose a series of historical assemblages-of sociality, treaty-making, militarized pushbacks upon encroachment, spatial confinement ("reservationization"), and pushback for land, for life and for dignity within occupation to amend Arafat's statement and reimagine "success."

At the end of the paper it is asked how these processes may be re-narrated and comprehended in a global, comparative frame of not only analysis, but struggles for justice.


Professor Audra Simpson, whose latest book is the acclaimed Mohawk Interruptus: Political Life Across the Borders of Settler States was published by Duke Uiversity Press in 2014.

Simpson presented the Keynote address at the 7th International Conference of Critical Geography in Ramallah, Palestine in July 2015.

Organized by Dr. Brian Boyd, Lecturer in Discipline, Anthropology at Columbia University, Director of Museum Anthropology, Program Director, Columbia Center for Archaeology, and Co-Chair, New York Academy of Sciences Anthropology Division.

This event is part of a Fall lecture series on "Settler Colonialism" hosted by The New York Academy of Sciences Anthropology Division.

A dinner reception precedes the lecture at 6:00 PM.

Free and open to the public.

Click here for the full event details.