“Since the War They Are All Bad” – Biopolitics, State Racism, and the (De)Legitimizing Discourses of Violence in U.S. – Dakota Relations

Stefan Aune

Document Type


Dakota warriors attacked the Lower Sioux Agency on August 18, 1862, ushering in several weeks of violence in southern Minnesota that ended with the forced removal of Dakota people from their homeland to reservations in the Dakota territories. This paper uses Foucauldian biopolitical theory to show how white settlers and the State itself racialized Dakota people as the “subrace” – delegitimizing Dakota violence and legitimizing genocidal practices of colonization. Ultimately these practices of colonization incorporated Dakota people into the networks of State power while maintaining their constructed racial inferiority, embedding a colonial oppression into the most basic functions of American government.


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