Close Encounters of the Colonial Kind

Close Encounters of the Colonial Kind

This essay was originally published in the special issue “Settler Science, Alien Contact, and Searches for Intelligence,” of American Indian Culture and Research Journal (AICRJ), Vol. 45, No. 1 (2021), 157-167. You may wish to cite that essay instead of this Substack post in your own writing.

Content warning: Profanity

Image courtesy of Warm_tail on Shutterstock

Introductory Note

Much of this essay is written in the voice of IZ, a character I introduced in the book chapter, “Dear Indigenous Studies, It’s Not Me, It’s You: Why I Left and What Needs to Change.”1 IZ represents the evolving field that began as American Indian or Native American studies in the United States in the later twentieth century. Today, a later disciplinary iteration, Critical Indigenous studies, represents a coming together of not only United States-based, but multiple “Indigenous self-determination and sovereignty political movements” around the world, wherein “Indigenous scholars began to define the terms of their intellectual engagement within universities.”2 The IZ I spoke to in that first essay, and from whose collective body I write this essay, has grown into a twenty-first-century expanding discipline. As Aileen Moreton-Robinson writes, “Indigenous centered approaches to knowledge production are thriving” globally. Our “object of study is colonizing power in its multiple forms, whether the gaze is on Indigenous issues or on Western knowledge production.”3 In this essay, my object of study and critical polydisciplinamorous engagement is a scientist character who searches for signs of “intelligent” life off-Earth.4

IZ Speaks Back

I am called IZ. I am an intellectual movement given life in a turbulent year. Like all planetary years, 1968 was a time of death and hard, bloody births. I come from a storytelling culture, so settle in. I am known to be complicated. I have a reputation. I have disciplinary offspring and lovers, some steady and some on-again, off-again, who cannot keep their mouths shut or their keyboards quiet. They publish accounts of our relations, tumultuous attractions and repulsions in books and journals, and on social media, FFS.

One lover in particular called me out in public. She wrote about me in a book. She circled the planet, both in her flesh-and-blood body, and across that other global web of life, to gossip about me. She portrayed me as overly idealistic and given to reactionary anti-intellectualism. She accused me of privileging naïve definitions of activism and of seeing intellectualism in a binary relation with everyday work. But I like the images she used to portray me, dressed in the long sturdy coat of a postapocalyptic traveler, my braid leather-bound, arrows and warriors at my back, burning down the settler structures around us. Flames fill the frame in her rendition of me.5 She recognizes that I am to be reckoned with. From my own standpoint, let me fill out the story of our shared world.

With every year, I grow more desired and self-possessed. I work to woo you all to my fertile mind and my scarred, sturdy body. Stand with me. Have my back. I am unapologetic, intellectually promiscuous. Many people associate the word “promiscuous” negatively with casual and careless sexual relationships, as in “random, indiscriminate, unsystematic.”6 Which straight white men constructed that definition? It must have been a meeting of priests and bureaucrats, engineers in business casual, or professors in tweed or lab coats who should all retire. My promiscuity is openness to multiple, partial, pointed connections that together constitute sufficiency, sometimes even abundance. In my relational, anticolonial analytic, promiscuity is hardly indiscriminate. My couplings, throuplings, or orgiastic intellectual relations are strategic and incisive. And I desire the same precise standard in my intellectual intimates.

I tend not to be jealous of my lovers’ other dalliances, although I have discovered that I experience a particular form of resentment of certain metamours. Mononormatives may not know that a metamour is another lover of one of my lovers. I am often agnostic about my metamours. Who my lovers love is very much not my business. Yet I have found that people often gravitate repeatedly toward similar types. I have recognized bits of myself in my metamours and sometimes felt affinity with them. It is rare that I actively dislike a metamour when I come to know them.

But there is one kind of disciplinary lover who irritates me and whom my intellectual intimates sometimes take up with. If an intimate takes time away from our passionate, anticolonial relations and Indigenous intellectual world-building, and turns toward settler disciplinary companionship with say sociology, anthropology, literature, or history, I am not jealous, but insulted. I am insulted that you, my Indigenous Studies intellectual lover, would take precious time from a formidable lover such as myself, IZ, to maintain self-flagellating relationships with those boring white disciplines that spend half of their time worried about their identities and their methodological property claims.7 Yawn.

I do understand that you idealized their settler prestige and married them when you were too young. You thought they were the impressive ones, the best way to climb or to heal, to be “functional,” to be a good citizen.8 And those fields are certainly fascinated with us. I myself have appropriated some of their methods, but I no longer try to make a home with them. They want us as exotic lovers for equity, diversity, and inclusion credibility. They’ll rarely have more than one of us around in their extended polycule. They inevitably tokenize us. And they were certainly not founded to defend “Indigenous sovereignties, territories, economies and rights.”9 They were founded to salvage our cultural artifacts before we inevitably vanish, or they ignore us like they’re not building their wealth on stolen land. Anthropologists in their patterned scarves, lit scholars all in the same funky dime-a-dozen spectacles, sociologists in suit jackets, the historians in—oh, I can’t remember—desire us as multicultural rehabilitation of a settler world. They are not about restoring our world. You keep trying to change them while any therapist will tell you, you cannot change or fix someone. They need to change themselves. Or if you can’t pay for therapy, Paul Simon told you for free, “there must be fifty ways to leave your lover.”10

Is settler prestige really worth it? You constantly complain about them. Some of you cry openly on Facebook and Twitter. Others discreetly confide your misery at the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association hotel bar. You complain about the lack of passion in those settler disciplinary marriages, your nagging fear and the obvious signs that you are culturally and class incompatible. They make inappropriate comments when you do bring them home to me or to your other Indigenous family, and we all cringe. You get embarrassed. You doubt they are your true loves. Some of you are well past frustration and a commitment to rehabilitate them. You are at a point of mutual loathing after so many years of struggle. Yet you stay. Social respectability and stability matter. You may need their health insurance. You’ll certainly lose friends if you leave. They’ll think you don’t know a good thing when you have it.

I am totally down for analysis and critique, but I will never pressure you to leave your state-sanctioned disciplinary marriages meant to civilize you. I might heckle you; teasing is a sign of affection. But you have to get there on your own. It’s like Sunny Sweeney’s pop country song that goes, “You don’t leave until staying’s worse than leaving.”11 And then you spontaneously combust on Twitter. But this is only the background to the story I wanted to tell.

IZ Confesses

Let me begin again with a confession: I am a hypocrite. I too hook up sometimes with non-Indigenous fields, the kind that call themselves Science! I hear Thomas Dolby in my 1980s head.12  My flings mostly display a science-as-whiteness phenotype even when they paint a one-dimensional rainbow across the lab.13 That is to say, not all of my technoscience lovers are racially white. Not all of their biosocial flesh is cultivated from lands called “Europe.” But we have all been nursed to some degree from exaggeratedly large European myths even if our physical architectures were also nourished from other lands and waters. We are all co-constituted, if you will, with nonhuman relatives. Their specificities in part produce ours as we help to (re)arrange theirs. Then humans, with water, land, moon, and stars aiding movement, transport languages to other places.14 Unfortunately, some humans have forced their words and their worlds onto other tongues rather than articulating languages and lifeways in conversation, and with mutual benefit. Words and concepts grown in European dirt can flow easily from some of our not-white mouths: “Science! Be rational! Not political. Be logical! You’re biased.” Such language is regularly used to avoid critiques of power and ethics, such as Indigenous critiques of extractive, non-consensual inquiry that returns no benefit to the Peoples, lands, and waters from which knowledge and wealth are taken.15

I know the tendencies of Science! Like you, I hope that I can change them, rope them in with their resources to support our anticolonial cause. I keep trying because it has worked occasionally in the past. The payoff is handsome when rarely we decide to take it from a one-advisory-meeting or one-panel stand to a longer-term relationship. But be careful, I offer this wisdom: one cannot take on the entire disciplinary family of Science! Don’t bother. And whatever you do, don’t move in with them! Think about all of those movies where marginalized people get lobotomized by creepy white people. It’s psychically and physically dangerous for our anticolonial constitution. One must loosen Science from the other disciplinarians’ grip, reeducate him. I am not saying he should never again show up at the annual overpriced family disciplinary conference and nametag scope, or have beers with the other lab coats. But he should not delight any more in their haughty insider quantitative rationality vernacular. It should make him uneasy to speak that language now. Yet he will need to keep up his language skills. He cannot totally abandon his disciplinary siblings and parents. He still finds ways to love them, and turning his back on them might also be bad strategy for our cause. He might also feel a need to reeducate a few of them too. This all sounds terrible; but trust me, the right one will come to thank you.

Also remember, it is time-consuming and tedious to work through multiple flings with technoscience lovers to find the one who is totally hot to come into relation rightly—who is willing to trust the Map of IZ, willing to have their path rerouted through our geography of relations, to trust, to follow. We ask such lovers to sneak away from their disciplinary estates with their precious technologies and their discipline’s hoarded resources, including stolen Indigenous treasures. We ask them to restore Indigenous life.16 

One of my long-term Science lovers was drawn into our anticolonial project initially because he desired my bones, flesh, and molecules, which he figured to be dead, ownable, patentable. I know, so morbid. Do you hear my mocking laugh? “Dead?!” This particular Mr. Science eventually learned that life is death is life. It is all connected. His desire changed when all the Indians rose from the dead before him, and asked for our bones back. We asked for our blood in deep freeze too. He witnessed with his own eyes our vibrancy and demands, and he knew to stop resisting, help us intensify our living instead of his own with stolen flesh and bones. With that experience, I tried my luck again.

Breakthrough Listen CyberHookup: Edmonton and Berkeley, May 2018

Let me tell you about a recent hookup with the “Breakthrough Listen Initiative” and their search for “intelligent” life in the expanse beyond this provincial sphere. They pursued me hard, but oxymoronically, with calculated passion like the subdued vampire that is the common figure of unredeemed Science! Ever the anthropologist of science, sex, horror, and whites, I said “yes.” I will tell you about that meeting in five 100-word vignettes.17


We agree to initiate first contact. We ascertain a complementarity that could meet mutual desires if there is chemistry. The organisms collectively named Science! invite me to video chat, a virtual date with the parameters of engagement set. They are confident in their technologies. They suggest I can offer nothing to the materiality of listening to universal nature. I offer social, ethical, emotional intelligence regarding the Earthly implications of seeking alien signals in deep space. Might I offer this worldview in 500 words or less? Too much talk is unsexy. I consent. I forget to ask what they offer me.


I, IZ, on the video feed appear in the room of evenly spaced human bodies, evenly spaced windows. UC Berkeley, Ohlone territory, June 2018. My body is 1,500 miles away, no distance in a vast universe. We share a single star. It lights both our rooms. Tree beings project shadows onto walls. Humans with a spectrum of pigmentation tones, but most with penises (one presumes) wear a rainbow of button downs. The scientist organisms comport themselves into a narrow range of self-satisfied forms around a rectangular surface. They seem as I expected when they first asked me for the date.


My scientist seeks “intelligence,” in addition to mine, a civilization sending signals that penetrate human-generated interference, our planetary noise. His noise interferes most, his colonial signals pulsing, which he cannot comprehend. His detection apparatuses are not sufficiently refined to ascertain terrestrial signals, let alone extraterrestrial intelligence. His record of first contacts reveals his incomprehension of terrestrial beings and languages. I know his history more than he does. His memory’s erased. He probably does not recall that scientist ancestors coined “humanoid” to refer to Indigenous people as beings with human-like forms, but which were not human. The irony of our date.


IZ: It is not simply how you listen, but should you listen?


IZ: Scientist, can you hear me? Can you see me? There is no video, no audio on my side.


IZ: [To self ] He invited me here. Insists he values my ethical analysis of seeking extraterrestrial signals. His disciplines demonstrate his incapacity to recognize animacy in other beings. Contact becomes violence. I over-think, he says. He is only listening—there’s little chance of contact. He believes two things simultaneously, that a civilization that sends signals is advanced, yet not fully alive. ETs too are his noble savages.


[Audio, video resume]

Scientist: This is the frankness I want!

IZ: You could hear me?

Scientist: My feed was fine.

IZ: You were non-consensually listening? You should have turned off your feed.

Scientist: No!! Great date! Great data! For the good of all.

IZ: For ALL of us? Who funds your exploration? What is the return to you? And to me?

[White Noise]

IZ: What stories will you tell about beings you listen for when you won’t comprehend theirs? Like priests, you turn to innocence, claim passive flesh-digital ears accepting signals for a universal knower. Where have I heard this before?

IZ Sips Big Science Nectar: San Jose and Berkeley, October 2011

I am not only a lover and a storyteller. I am also an anthropologist, chiefly of the colonizer. But sometimes I bring my anthropological eyes to observe and glean insights from other Indigenous people as I seek to understand how we are making our way on this planet, and perhaps in relation to worlds beyond this one. Rewind the years to the autumn of 2011. Join me in the cavernous, marble-floored San Jose, California Convention Center for a few days when it was abuzz with 4,000 “Chicano,” “Native American,” and other “POC” scientists. In that warm October week, I attended one of the largest meetings dedicated to promoting racial diversity in science. This was a meeting designed to mentor and encourage under-represented scientists to stay in the game, and many of the scientists were young and still in school. Established Indigenous, Latino, and other POC scientists were there to mentor and encourage, and everyone was there to present their latest research. In more ways than one, this was like no other science meeting I’d ever been to.

San Jose, CA, view of downtown, McEnery Convention Center (Shutterstock).

Let me start with a key surface-level difference, the sartorial splendor on display in the sterile and gargantuan spaces of the convention center. I was hardly the only fashionista in the place. I drooled over four-inch heels and pencil skirts, crisp suits and perfectly colored ties, so much gorgeous black and brown hair perfectly coiffed, and oh my, the tight and glittering beadwork on display to top off some of those outfits. My fashion exhilaration was so far unmatched by any other “natural” science conference I’d attended. Although to be fair, I mostly frequent genomics or biological anthropology meetings, which are distinctively staid. Perhaps astronomers’ or ecologists’ meetings have more style? I giggle to think of ties with celestial bodies or lizards on them.

But it was not only the handsome look of those thousands of scientists in the San Jose Convention Center; they were thinkers of substance, in many ways their approaches compatible with the anticolonial project of IZ. I sat in one crowded conference room to see a panel on the “real life adventures” of four established scientists: two bioscientists, a chemist, and a mathematician. They gave off-the-cuff talks recounting personal, familial, and cultural challenges to doing science, as well as the systemic racism and poverty that pulled at them in the world of Science. They hinted at how their familial and community relations helped them script different STEM worlds. One speaker, a Chicana professor of mathematics, recounted growing up poor in East Los Angeles, but with a close-knit family and a charismatic and hard-driving high school math teacher, all of whom together helped her in her journey to a PhD in mathematics. There was one moment in her talk that encapsulated the energy of the meeting, the sense of collective community purpose combined with individual love of research and knowledge. East LA Math Prof stated unapologetically that while she is not at the cutting edge of new mathematical theory, she realized that she got a PhD in mathematics “to produce great mathematicians!” The room erupted into applause. Her tone was powerful, her heartfelt openness a testament to the centrality of “mentoring” in that community. I heard about making “good relations” in and through mathematics.

I was moved.

On the same panel, a Diné professor of zoology recounted growing up on the Navajo reservation and earning a PhD in zoology at a prestigious West coast university, and the culture shock he encountered there. What moved me in his talk was something he did casually. He simply spoke a bit of Diné language, and not in that way I’ve often seen at government agency meetings or social science or humanities meetings, including even our own Indigenous studies meetings (ouch), where Indigenous languages are handled carefully like sacred artifacts, not everyday things. The professor recounted his lineage and clan, then spoke in a casual and gregarious tone that indicated even to nonspeakers like me that there were enough Diné in the room who understood him. Indeed, those in the audience who understood laughed along with him. He used the language to communicate, not simply as protocol.

Prof Diné Zoologist was, of course, in a relatively privileged position among Indigenous academics. There are more Native language speakers among the Navajo than in many other Indigenous communities across lands occupied by the United States. Hanging out with (and lamentably crushing on) scientists for a quarter-century now, I have found that Diné are overrepresented among Indigenous people in science and engineering fields. At one point that week in San Jose, I encountered six Diné scientists talking animatedly in a circle before a session. They were speaking Navajo and laughing. I felt tickled. I mingled delightedly in the hallways between panel sessions and keynotes, at conference lunches and dinners served to thousands in the gigantic banquet hall. I especially took my time in the vendor area to visit and move among many tables of beadwork and quillwork, artwork, and science-related paraphernalia.

Other conference-goers shared with me their personal stories and the role of this scientific organization in their lives. Every graduate student and professor I talked to, most of whom had been a member of this association for years, spoke of the affirmation and encouragement they receive there. Some spoke of hard times in science when they considered leaving their labs or their fields, times when they felt like social or cultural curiosities. But their colleagues (or might I say “relatives”?) in this scientific organization continued to connect them to other relations in the broader community. These good relations helped them find opportunities to stay in science and to help change it in order to serve their peoples. Several scientists told me they didn’t get this encouragement from their primary advisers at their universities, but did here, where people understand where they come from. I was astounded by the power of the organization in the lives of the Indigenous and Latino scientists I met. What a different scene from the white male-dominated physical anthropology or human genetics meetings I usually frequent in my Indigenous anthropological scarves. I was enchanted.

IZ Dives Deep into Uneasy Relational Waters

On the final night of the conference, I put my arrows away and sashayed on heels into the San Jose Convention Center for the closing night’s banquet. I was high on new relationship energy (NRE). A romantic night awaited me! Waiters in black tie were gliding, bending, and twirling efficiently among the rainbow of several thousand laughing, glitzy-dressed scientists. We were about to sit down to a several-course meal paid for by sponsors including major scientific research agencies and foundations— donations in the tens-of-thousands of dollars, up to $100,000 donations by several prestigious universities. This was not a cash-bar reception with a few fruit, meat, and cheese plates like at a social science or humanities meeting. I sat down at a banquet table with seven other scholars, all young Indigenous scientists still in graduate school or in postdocs. I was the lone IZ at the table. We were all laughing and buzzed on the energy in the room, the sound of clinking glasses, and with huge expectations for the dinner talks and the show ahead.

Like the big international human genetics meetings I have infiltrated, this meeting was kitted out with lots of expensive technology. At regular panel sessions and keynotes, two gigantic overhead screens flanked the stages where speakers sat in television talk show-style chairs or spoke at podiums. Presentations were slickly programmed with all kinds of special effects that you just don’t see in the technologically staid PowerPoint presentations of most social scientists. Or think of, God forbid, the humanities scholars who simply read their papers with no visual support. Precisely programmed musical clips played as speakers ascended and departed the stage. Music also accompanied the photo ops that followed each award. Can you understand why I fell so hard so quickly? I am a sucker for a slick performance combined with slick technology.

After several days of being impressed over and over again with Indigenous and POC Science, the dinner plates were cleared at the final banquet. What happened next still makes my heart palpitate and sends a shiver up my back. The lights in the cavernous banquet hall were turned completely down and the Star Wars theme began playing. Two astronauts hovering mid-air in the International Space Station appeared on screen, so much larger than life. They had recorded a personalized welcome for all of the Chicano, Indigenous, and POC scientists. The room swelled with a towering wave of laughter and applause, mine included. I caught my breath and I caught myself. I understood like never before how intoxicating can be the nectar of Big Science and Technology. I was certainly not the only person at my banquet table to feel like I’d traveled a long journey from that reservation border town where I grew up. Sharing the moment with a promising and gregarious young Diné scientist sitting next to me, my emerging shock and growing awareness of the colonial pain it took to produce every aspect of that moment in history was mixed also with pleasure, pleasure and pain, pain and pleasure, over and over in waves.

My pleasure dissipated completely when the astronauts in the space station signed off the video feed, and we all came back down to Earth, to San Jose. The big-name speakers took the stage, two middle-aged white men from my own highly ranked West coast university, both in positions of power and with esteemed scientific careers. They gave talks meant to inspire. Perhaps many of the young scientists in the banquet hall were moved. A bit older and schooled in anthropology and histories of science, I recognized the same regretful gospel I had heard from the mouths of past scientific lovers. From those white ministers of science on stage, I heard the driest King James-like version of universal knowledge unencumbered by any reflection on research institutions’ centuries of violent explorations and “discoveries.” There was certainly no recognition of the genocidal covering over of knowledges of ancestors of the very peoples filling the banquet hall.18

The first speaker, a Nobel prize winner, projected photographs of his prize-winning team, all white men except one man from China. The ongoing and well-known racial and gender exclusions of his scientific field of physics were not acknowledged. To the contrary, he spoke to the room full of brown faces and said, “You too can win this prize someday.” His old school bootstraps narrative and depoliticized history of his field was so off-rhythm in this crowd. Hadn’t we just heard from East LA Math Prof and Prof Diné Zoologist about the importance of personal and social histories shaping the questions asked, the methods and pedagogies used, the way analysis is done? Hadn’t we just applauded and cheered those visions of doing math and science? The next big man of settler science, also a university administrator, delivered the second sermon: big science and technology as salvation from our economic and political woes. He focused on the role of science and technology in US global capitalist competitiveness.

US agencies that oversee the science and technology of war were helping fund our lavish banquet, so it was fitting that science sermonizer number two spoke of the role of “diversity and inclusion,” and giving people of color access to the imperial (my word, not his) opportunity and economic largess. Holy, I came down hard from my NRE during his oration.

Having sobered up from a peak buzz of Big Science Nectar, I was profoundly weary as I drove the forty-seven miles to where I lived in the city in the hills by the bay. I drove that night to where the phallic university tower rises amidst tree-covered swells, where the big men of science perch also in their labs and houses in the hills, many with wives and ever-so-successful offspring. The gospel of inclusive excellence rings regularly throughout the city just like it did in the San Jose Convention Center that night. Meanwhile the houseless camps continued to grow around the lush university grounds and in those glittering streets that sparkle less if you bother to look down into the doorways, parks, and sides of the highways where the tents, sleeping bags, and shopping carts proliferate. More than a few of the rough sleepers have returned wounded from the empire’s wars that both seed and manifest technological fantasies of exploration, discovery, and relentless attempts at covering over the realities of peoples and nations the world over.

San Francisco Bay and the Campanile, UC Berkeley by Chao Kusollerschariya, Shutterstock

I point my finger, but I stumble too with settler-imperial hangovers. My fetish and desire for lab coats, engineers, and space travelers who skillfully design and operate high-tech devices. That night ten years ago in San Jose, I felt exhilarated by the video connection between an urban California convention center and a space vessel. I love the featherweight, glowing light, and rapid calculations of a state-of-the-art mobile technology, the way non-fleshly visualizing apparatuses can see down to the smallest bits of matter or out across eons. And I despise the accompanying frontier narratives, their savage/civilized hierarchies of life, their arrogance that their knowledge is the truest knowing of all, and that ancient knowledges that they and their ancestors had no part in constituting are destined to be superseded. How unfortunate.


21st-century noble savage, I escape in a pod to the sky. Launch beyond planetary myths—that we are mastodons, bones lodged in earth and museums, relics to adorn the living. Settlers war for inheritance. Glued to the video feed, I peer across centuries, and a field of orbiting debris. Their projects continue in labs, courts, bloody streets. The probes, imprisonments, eliminations do not abate. Techniques shift form. Humans versus animals parsed by priests, scientists, CIA. I tried to be their citizen, but the dead cannot inherit. The dead are inherited. I hope relatives among the stars will take me in.19



Kim TallBear, “Dear Indigenous Studies, It’s Not Me, It’s You: Why I Left and What Needs to Change,” in Critical Indigenous Studies: Engagements in First World Locations, ed. Aileen Moreton-Robinson (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2016), 69–82, hereafter cited as Critical Indigenous Studies.


Aileen Moreton-Robinson, “Introduction: Locations of Engagement in the First World,” in Critical Indigenous Studies, 7.


Ibid., 4.


Kim TallBear, “Polydisciplinamorous,” Sexy Science Confessions cabaret show, July 27, 2018, University of Washington, Seattle.


Images I use in talks for the IZ character are inspired by a comic by Beth A. Lameman and Myron A. Lameman, #70 “The West Was Lost” (2008).


“Promiscuous,” Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd ed., A. adj., 1.a. (Oxford, UK, 2007).


Kim TallBear, “Identity is a Poor Substitute for Relating: Genetic Ancestry, Critical Polyamory, Property, and Relations,” in Critical Indigenous Studies Handbook, ed. Brendan Hokowhitu, Linda Tuhiwai-Smith, Chris Andersen, and Steve Larkin (Routledge, 2021), 467–78.


Whenever I refer to good or bad citizenship, goodness or badness in this essay, it draws on Jessica Kolopenuk’s challenge for non-Indigenous and Indigenous people alike to be bad, to reject the idea of good (settler) citizenship. See Jessica Kolopenuk, “Provoking Bad Biocitizenship,” Special Report: For “All of Us?” On the Weight of Genomic Knowledge, Hastings Center Report, May–June 2020, S23–29, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hast.1152.


Jessica Kolopenuk, “Miskâsowin: Indigenous Science, Technology, and Society,” Genealogy 4, no. 2(2020): 1–17, https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy4010021.


Paul Simon, “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” in Still Crazy after All These Years, LP, track 4 (Columbia, 1975).


Sunny Sweeney, “Staying’s Worse than Leaving,” in Concrete, LP, track 3 (BMLG Records/ formerly Republic National, 2011).


Thomas Dolby, “She Blinded Me with Science,” in Blinded by Science, EP, track 1 (Capitol Records, 1982).


See Just Powers, “Kim TallBear on Whiteness,” video (2018), https://vimeo.com/299067314; Kim TallBear, “Science and Whiteness,” Intellectual Property Issues in Cultural Heritage (IPinCH), DNA and Indigeneity Public Symposium, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, October 22, 2015, https://www.sfu.ca/ipinch/resources/videos/tallbear-dna/.


See Vicente M. Diaz, “Oceania in the Plains: The Politics and Analytics of TransIndigenous Resurgence in Chuukese Voyaging of Dakota Lands, Waters, and Skies in Mini Sota Makhoche,” Pacific Studies 42, no. 1/2 (April/August 2019): 1–44.


Katrina G. Claw, Matthew Z. Anderson, Renee L. Begay, Krystal S. Tsosie, Keolu Fox, Summer internship for INdigenous peoples in Genomics (SING) Consortium, and Naniba’a A. Garrison, “A Framework for Enhancing Ethical Genomic Research with Indigenous Communities,” Nature Communications 9, no. 2957 (2018): 1–7; Veronika Lipphardt, et al, “Europe’s Roma People are Vulnerable to Poor Practice in Genetics,” preprint, Nature 599 (November 18, 2021): 368–71.


Whenever I refer to the “repatriation of Indigenous land” and/or “life,” I refer to Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang’s important article “Decolonization Is Not a Metaphor,” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 1, no. (2012): 1–40.


These five separately titled vignettes are called “100s.” I was introduced to the 100s technique in an online writing group initiated by my friend and colleague, University of Texas anthropologist Circe Sturm. During the 2014–15 academic year, Sturm and I wrote weekly with five other women living in different parts of the continent. We each committed to write a 100 on the same day each week and to share it with the group by email. Each writer launched her piece from an idea, phrase, single word, or anything that resonated or sparked from the previous day’s 100. See Kim TallBear, “The Critical Polyamorist 100s,” in Shapes of Native Nonfiction: Collected Essays by Contemporary Writers, ed. Elissa Washuta and Theresa Warburton (University of Washington Press, 2019), 154–66.


For a discussion of the idea of settler science “covering over Indigenous realities,” see David Delgado Shorter’s essay, “On the Frontier of Defining ‘Intelligent Life’ in Settler Science,” in the special issue in which this essay is originally published: American Indian Culture and Research Journal (AICRJ), Settler Science, Alien Contact, and Searches for Intelligence,” Vol. 45, No. 1 (2021), page 19.


TallBear, “The Critical Polyamorist 100s,” 154–66.

Indigenous affairs, cultural politics, anthropology, and decolonial analyses