“This is a Liberated Zone!” Refusing Settler Colonialism in Denver, Colorado and Beyond

Authors: Isaac Rivera*, University of Washington
Topics: Indigenous Peoples, Political Geography, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: Digital Geographies, Racial Capitalism, Settler Colonial Studies, Social Movements
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual 40
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The Colorado American Indian Movement (CAIM) has been resisting the logics and technologies implicated in the national holiday Columbus Day for decades. This includes the refusal of ongoing genocide, dominion, patriarchy, and the destruction of relationships to the non-human world that originate with the Doctrine of Discovery. This paper foregrounds Indigenous peoples’ refusal as an analytic in which to understand the multiple spaces, relations, and principles in which CAIM engages in the pursuit of self-determination. In particular, this paper investigates the visual and digital mediations of Indigenous peoples’ refusal during the annual Four Directions march and Columbus Day protests in Denver, Colorado for the purpose of spatializing and visiblizing “freedom as a place” according to the terms of CAIM. In doing so, I argue that we are able to apprehend not just the political orders emergent from Indigenous relationality, but also to understand how digital computing technologies mediate settler imaginaries of indigeneity that enclose Indigenous political orders, through the abstraction, capture, and digital circulation of Indigenous lands and bodies. By mapping the place based geo-histories and political orders of ongoing Indigenous resistance, I suggest a rethinking of digital inquiry that focuses on digital phenomenon, towards land-life orders emergent from Indigenous land itself.

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