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Decolonizing (≠ Reconciling): Science, Technology, and Indigenous Relations

Kim TallBear

2020 United States

The annual MacLennan Lecture in the History of Science and Technology as presented on January 30 by Dr. Kim TallBear, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Peoples, Technoscience & Environment, University of Alberta, author of Native American DNA: Tribal Belonging and the False Promise of Genetic Science and project director of “Indigenous: Science/ Technology/ Society”. This talk departs from misguided interpretations of “reconciliation” that see accounting, accountability, and “restoration of friendly relations” as a two-way street, between settler-colonial society and Indigenous people(s). However, it is the settler-colonial power structure that is responsible for restoration of good relations, land, and “resources”—both human and more-than-human—that were cut from Indigenous communities and which disrupted Indigenous lives and lifeways. Focusing on a definition “decolonization” that requires the restoration of Indigenous land and life (Tuck and Yang 2012), this talk examines the role of science and technology via several case studies in restoring good relations, resources, and governance capacity to Indigenous nations and communities.