Statement on the Settler Colonial Conflict in Gaza and Israel

As American Indian Studies and Indigenous scholars, it is our professional responsibility to educate our students and the general public about settler colonialism and the multi-generational traumas and horrors it produces. We teach this in our classrooms every day, but as violence escalates in Palestine/Israel, we lament the fate of civilians on both sides and feel compelled to speak out publicly.  We are horrified by the violence committed by Hamas radicals and are deeply saddened by all the hundreds of individuals who were killed by their attacks. Yet, we in no way see this as a justifiable premise for the continuing dehumanization of Palestinian people and state policies of apartheid and genocide. The settler colonialism we see in nation-state based Zionism mirrors what we teach every day in our classes about the Indigenous history of Turtle Island and continuing threats to contemporary American Indian life and tribal sovereignty. This is why we cannot stay silent as we witness the oppression and genocide of Palestinians. 

We believe one can both condemn violence enacted by Hamas and understand it as an act of desperation borne out of generations of oppression under apartheid and ethnic cleansing.  Additionally, we feel it is important to be cautious and disciplined in the language we use to characterize Hamas’s violence given the long history of settler colonialism’s use of terms like  “massacre” to fear monger against and dehumanize Indigenous people who commit violence against people of European descent.

Our professional obligations to seek and state truth oblige us to call out and condemn apartheid and violence as inherent elements of colonial nation-states everywhere. Inevitably, this violence disproportionately harms Indigenous peoples. We acknowledge that the nation-state is the current state of affairs globally and that certain Jewish populations can make legitimate claims to historic settlement in Israel; however, neither of these facts can legitimate the erasure of Palestinian Indigenous peoples through apartheid and genocide. As scholars of settler colonialism we know that institutional practices and policies of erasure are central to nation-state sponsored material and symbolic violence. Moreover, we have observed through our studies how settler colonialism, not only destroys Indigenous lives, but it also rots the humanity of settlers who support these nation-states. Israeli state-based violence must cease in Gaza and the West Bank, and peaceful solutions to co-existence MUST be found.

More information about Indigenous perspectives on settler colonialism in general and Palestinian people can be found here: