Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Open Access


Degree Name

MA in Women's History

First Advisor

Deanna Barenboim

Second Advisor

Lyde Sizer


This thesis investigates the role of gender violence and sexual terror in westward settler expansion of the United States in the nineteenth century. I posit that gender violence was not simply a symptom of war and colonization, but an integral piece of the American colonization strategy. Using studies of three locations during three different periods, I have found that the local, territorial, state, and federal governments all actively deployed sexual assault and other forms of gendered terror as methods of removing Indigenous peoples to reservations and rancherías, opening their lands to settlement and resource exploitation for the purpose of acquiring wealth and power for both individuals and the state itself. Through the lens of critical Indigenous feminist studies and utilizing the theories of Indigenous woman scholars, I have made connections between historical violence and the current crisis of violence against Indigenous women, girls, queer, trans, and two-spirit people, and, in particular, their abduction and murder, colloquially known as MMIWGQ2ST. While my research findings are oftentimes quite dark, I highlight the survival and resistance (survivance) of Indigenous women and girls and the hope on the horizon for decolonization, justice, and healing.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Submission Agreement


Under author imposed embargo.
Available for download on Wednesday, May 31, 2023