Colonial Settler States and Indigenous People

What should be the relationship between colonial settler states and indigenous people?

Settler colonialists dominate in the political and social context of the indigenous people, normalizing their continuous settlement and utilizing resources and lands that the indigenous people relate with genealogically. They are oppressive and discriminative with respect to race, white supremacy, capitalism and heteropatriarchy. According to Cox (2017), colonial settler states tend to be Eurocentric and emphasize that European values are natural and inevitable with respect to ethnic (moral) superiority.  In the US, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, colonialism is still present and not considered a thing of the past. This is because in these countries, colonial settler states have settled there, displaced the indigenous people, and maintained systems that wipe out native cultures, histories and lives. Settler colonialism is more of a system than a historical event, since it focuses on erasing the indigenous people and replacing them as the new occupants.

The relationship between colonial settler states and indigenous people utilizes the ‘logic of elimination’ (Wolfe, 2006).  This means that settler colonialism is essentially eliminatory. Another tendency of colonial settler states is genocide. Though settler colonialism was not always genocidal, Wolfe highlights that in some places, such as North America and Australia, settler colonialists completely expropriated the sites. However, genocidal outcomes were not evenly vividly identifiable over time and space. In some sites, such as Fiji, the indigenous people were able to put up with the invaders and the reframed socioeconomic system they introduced. Nevertheless, these native societies were not left unscathed. Though settler colonialism at times leads to the genocide of the indigenous people, it is not the only cause of genocide. This has been observed in countries like Armenia, Rwanda and Cambodia.

Though dissolving native societies has been one of the dimensions of the logic of elimination, Wolfe (2006) explains that settler colonialism also has positive outcomes. Despite its eliminatory and genocidal tendencies, it sets up a new society on the land base that the colonialists expropriate. They come to stay, thus they establish a structure rather than an event. It, therefore, has an organizing effect on the society. The settlers sometimes interbreed with the indigenous people who are not of their race, resulting in miscegenation. Native citizenship and native title is then broken down into alienable freeholds for individuals. These settler states have improved the indigenous people’s lives by introducing religious conversion and re-socializing them in learning, religious and other institutions. Biocultural assimilation has been one of the positive outcomes of this relationship.




Cox, A. (2017). Settler Colonialism. obo in Literary and Critical Theory. DOI:             10.1093/obo/9780190221911-0029

Patrick Wolfe (2006) Settler colonialism and the elimination of the native, Journal of Genocide         Research, 8:4, 387-409, DOI: 10.1080/14623520601056240

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