Examining the Effects of Violence and Nonviolence in Indigenous Direct Action

The Red Power Movement and Idle No More

  • Dorothy Hodgins


A focalizing debate within social movement theory considers the efficacy of violence versus nonviolence in direct action. This is especially important to consider in a settlercolonial context where the state is systematically designed to repress mobilizations of Indigenous sovereignty. It often attempts to frame such movements as either vaguely-defined discontent or national security threats - both of which attempt to invalidate the movements’ demands. I use the case studies of the Red Power movement of the 1960s/1970s in the U.S. and the Idle No More movement of 2012/2013 in Canada to explore the ways the settler state responds to violent and non-violent forms of Indigenous resistance. It is my hope that these observed patterns of response are critically read not only by Indigenous Peoples, but also by non-Indigenous folx who wish to actively support these movements rather than passively consume and re-produce the colonial re-narrativization of movement events and intentions.