Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 1 (Winter 2015) - Page 3

VOLUME 11 NUMBER 1 2015 GOSPEL WITNESS: BEYOND COLONIALISM1 Andrea Smith∗ Today’s talk might have some controversial political content. But afterwards, feel free to tell me I’m totally wrong, and we can have a great discussion about this. And some of this might cover some hard material; I just want to acknowledge that. It might be a little grim and depressing, but we’ll try to get to happy thoughts by the end. So if you can hang through, we’ll try to do that. Just to give it context, this comes out of my many years of organizing, particularly organizing against violence against Native women. And I don’t myself have anything particularly interesting to say, so I’m more sharing the insights I’ve learned from many other people involved in these struggles, not in a prescriptive way, but in a generative way, a way that says, here are some things to think about that might help us spark our imaginations in whatever context we are in. So, to begin, I want to give a little history to help you understand the colonial history we’re talking about, particularly through the lens of Native women. When we look at this history, we see that we cannot separate out colonial violence from gender violence, because gender violence was the key strategy by which colonialism occurred. For instance, if we look at the history of Indian massacres, we see that they were always accompanied by rape and sexual mutilation. And here is a quote from a Methodist minister at the Sand Creek Massacre; he was advocating the annihilation of Native women and children in particular because he said, “Nits make lice.” And so, during this massacre, Native people’s body parts were cut out; Native people were routinely raped, and this was something done in the name of Christ. The goal of colonizers was not just to kill Native peoples but to kill Native peoples’ sense of even being people. Native bodies became rendered inherently rapeable, and by extension, their lands are inherently invade-able, and their DOI: ∗ Andrea Smith is Associate Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at University of California at Riverside; 1. Andrea Smith, “The Gospel Witness: Beyond Colonialism” (lecture, Multnomah University, Portland, OR, June 9, 2015). Most of the sources in this presentation can be found in Andrea Smith, Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015). 2