Playing Indian Constitutes a Structural Form of Colonial Theft, and It Must be Tackled

Playing Indian Constitutes a Structural Form of Colonial Theft, and It Must be Tackled

American Progress Redux (2019) photoshopped from John Gast (1872)

This is the audio version of the Unsettle post by the same title. Thanks for listening.

Relevant websites


Media Indigena. Contemplating the Consequences of Colonial Cosplay,” Part 1, episode 245. February 24, 2021.

Media Indigena. Creating Culpability for Consequences Colonial Cosplay,” Part 2, episode 246. February 27, 2021. .


Tara Bahrampour. “Elizabeth Warren’s Refusal to Take a DNA Test to Prove Native American Ancestry was Probably a Smart Move.” The Washington Post. March 14, 2018.

Joanne Barker et. al. “Open Letter from Indigenous Women Scholars Regarding Discussions of Andrea Smith,” Indian Country Today, July 7, 2015 (September 12, 2018).

BBC.US Senator Elizabeth Warren Faces Backlash After Indigenous DNA Claim.” October 16, 2018.

Canadaland. The Convenient ‘Pretendian,’ Ep. 359. February 15, 2021, .

CBC. The Current. With Anna Maria Tremonti. Indigenous Identity and the Case of Joseph Boyden.” January 5, 2017. .

Angela Chen.“No matter what Elizabeth Warren’s DNA test shows, there’s no genetic test to prove you’re Native American.” The Verge. October 15, 2018.

Ka’nhehsí:io Deer and Jorge Barrera. “Award-winning filmmaker Michelle Latimer’s Indigenous identity under scrutiny,” CBC Indigenous. December 17, 2020.

Philip J. Deloria. Playing Indian. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1998.

Delilah Friedler. Natives are Split Over Rep. Deb Haaland’s Endorsement of Elizabeth Warren.” Mother Jones. August 1, 2019.

Rhiannon Johnson. “Canada Research Chair Critical of U.S. Senator’s DNA Claim to Indigenous Identity.CBC Indigenous. October 15, 2018. .

Glenn Kessler. Just About Everything You’ve Read On the Warren DNA Test is Wrong.Washington Post. October 18, 2018.

KUOW. Senator Warren Takes the DNA Test.” By Bill Radke. Interview with Kim TallBear and Rick Smith. October 15, 2018.

Matt Miller. “A DNA test won't explain Elizabeth Warren's Ancestry.” Slate.com., June 29, 2016.

The National Archives Experience. American Conversation: Henry Louis Gates Jr.February 5, 2009.

Jennifer Raff. “What Do Elizabeth Warren’s DNA Test Results Actually Mean?Forbes. October 15, 2018.

Jenny Reardon and Kim TallBear. “Your DNA is Our History”: Genomics, Anthropology, and the Construction of Whiteness as Property.” Current Anthropology 53 (S5) (2012): S233-S245.

Vincent Schilling. “Strike Against Sovereignty? Senator Warren Asserts Native American Ancestry Via DNA.” Indian Country Today. October 15, 2018.

Jamil Smith. “Why Elizabeth Warren’s DNA Fiasco Matters.” Rolling Stone. December 7, 2018.

TallBear v. Moniz, No. 1:2017cv00025 – Document 15 (D.D.C. 2018).

Kim TallBear. “Identity is a Poor Substitute for Relating: Genetic Ancestry, Critical Polyamory, Property, and Relations.” In Brendan Hokowhitu, Linda Tuhiwai-Smith, Chris Andersen, and Steve Larkin. Critical Indigenous Studies Handbook. Routledge, 2021: 467-478.

Mari Uyehara. What Elizabeth Warren Keeps Getting Wrong About DNA Tests and Native American Heritage.” GQ. December 11, 2018.

WYNC Studios, On the Media with Brooke Gladstone. “By Blood, and Beyond” Interview with Kim TallBear. October 19, 2018.

Indigenous affairs, cultural politics, anthropology, and decolonial analyses