Indigenous Activism, Community Sustainability, and the Constraints of CANZUS Settler-Colonial Nationhood.


  • Paul R McKenzie-Jones University of Lethbridge



In Mohawk Interruptus, Audra Simpson describes the process of settler-colonial nationhood as incomplete because of the continued presence of Indigenous peoples who will “defend what they have left” and “persist, robustly.” Within that framework, this paper will look at how Indigenous environmental and sustainability activism in the Anglo-settler CANZUS states restricts and impedes the processes of absolute settler-nationhood. Using four case studies to provide an analytical focal point, I will interrogate the overtly paramilitary state-sanctioned response of North Dakota to the #NoDAPL Standing Rock Sioux and allied water protectors; and comparative state responses and violence to the recent Maori protests against TPPA in Aotearoa; the Nunatsiavut/Inuit Make Muskrat Right Again campaign in Canada; and the wave of Invasion Day protests in Australia. 


I argue that while these state responses sustain and emblemize the power and dominance of settler-colonial nationhood, they also also prove Simpson’s argument that continued Indigenous defense undermines and corrupts the absolutism of settler-colonial nationhood. Each instance of forced settler nation interaction with Indigenous community resistance and persistence, and every state engagement with the issues of unceded land and treaty rights, demands an acknowledgement from these states that the settler-colonial process is still a work in progress. The final aspect of the paper will ask whether these acknowledgment that the settler-colonialism process is a work in progress, and the choice of state violence as a response to these acknowledgements. create enough spaces to terminally undermine this process, and thus enable the re-interpretation and affirmation of Indigeneity as equal to, rather than underneath, these settler-colonial CANZUS nation states.  

Author Biography

Paul R McKenzie-Jones, University of Lethbridge

Assistant Professor,

Indigenous Studies




How to Cite

McKenzie-Jones, P. R. (2019). Indigenous Activism, Community Sustainability, and the Constraints of CANZUS Settler-Colonial Nationhood. Transmotion, 5(1), 104–131.