Extraction, Indigenous Dispossession and State Power: Lessons from Standing Rock and Wet’suwet’en Resistance




Mittal, Paarth

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One way settler-colonialism operates in North America is through the extraction of resource wealth, facilitated by the dispossession of Indigenous lands. When Indigenous-led resistance to land- and water-killing projects threatens extraction, settler state and corporate institutions use security mechanisms to eliminate such “threats.” Using as case studies the pipeline conflicts of the Wet’suwet’en Nation’s (especially Unist’ot’en Camp’s) resistance to Coastal GasLink (CGL) in British Columbia (BC), Canada, and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL)’ in North Dakota, United States (US), this paper explores how fossil-fuel extraction interacts with critical infrastructure (CI) securitization to further Indigenous land dispossession. Through an in-depth content analysis of passages from TigerSwan surveillance and BC Supreme Court injunction documents, I elicit meaning around how settler states and fossil-fuel corporations rationalize and practice securitization and, consequently, dispossession. First, I introduce some historical context of dispossession and securitization relevant to the Wet’suwet’en and Standing Rock cases. Next, I outline the findings and offer a comparative analysis of the similarities and differences in the security rationales and strategies used. Security actors in both cases shared rationales such as protecting private property, while also exhibiting strategic differences (i.e. social media narrative-shifting in Standing Rock).



Wet’suwet’en First Nations, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, pipelines, dispossession, securitization of critical infrastructure (CI)