Francesca Maximé – ReRooted – Ep. 47 – Settler Colonialism with Dr. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

Dr. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz joins Francesca Maximé to talk about her work as a scholar and activist, the history of settler colonialism, and the cult of the Constitution. 

Dr. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz has been active in the international Indigenous movement for more than four decades and is known for her lifelong commitment to national and international social justice issues. Her 1977 book, The Great Sioux Nation, was the fundamental document at the first international conference on Indigenous peoples of the Americas. Dr. Dunbar-Ortiz is the author or editor of seven other books, including An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States. Learn more at

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States

Francesca welcomes Dr. Dunbar-Ortiz to ReRooted, and asks what prompted her to write the book, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States. Dr. Dunbar-Ortiz talks about her study of the indigenous people of New Mexico, and how she was called as a witness at the trial of the Lakota people involved in the Wounded Knee Occupation. 

“I think this book is in many ways a culmination of all the work I’ve done in the last 50 years – the scholarly work and the activist work.” – Dr. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

Settler Colonialism (18:27)

Francesca and Dr. Dunbar-Ortiz discuss the concept of settler colonialism, what it means, and its lasting repercussions. Dr. Dunbar-Ortiz talks about the indigenous peoples’ relationship with the land and how it differed from that of the settlers, and explores the consequences of the Northwest Ordinance of 1887.

“Really, the United States was founded as a corporation, as a capitalist state. And land was the capital, land sales was the capital.” – Dr. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

Jacqueline Battalora joins Francesca Maximé for a conversation about the foundation of America’s institutionalized racism on ReRooted Ep. 39
The Cult of the Constitution (41:47)

Francesca and Dr. Dunbar-Ortiz talk about the parallels between chattel slavery and settler colonialism, and the traumas of slavery and colonialism that continue to affect the people of the United States to this day. Dr. Dunbar-Ortiz ends by exploring how America’s revered ‘Founding Fathers’ were far from perfect, and how we have a cult of the Constitution.

“We have to deprogram our cultish connection to the Constitution and to the so-called founders who designed this horrible system that we have propagated.” – Dr. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz


Images via Random House & Beacon Press