Native Americans and Capitalism
Primitive Accumulation, Dispossession, and Wage Labor

Socialism 2016

July 01, 2016

Coercion, violence, genocide, and war against Indigenous populations were central components of the birth of the capitalist mode of production. As land was privatized and commodified, it became a central force of capitalist development, production and wealth, (alongside slavery and wage labor) for the U.S. nation-state. People were ripped from the land and their means of sustenance, and this process has turned the vast majority of people into exploited wage laborers where wealth has been concentrated into the top of US society. What has this process looked like for Native Americans and Indigenous Nations in the United States? How should issues of class oppression and exploitation be understood alongside fighting for Indigenous sovereignty, against further dispossession, and for Native American self-determination?

Suggested Readings:
Chapter 27 of Capital by Karl Marx (Vol. 1, 1867) |
Chapter 31 of Capital by Karl Marx (Vol. 1, 1867) |

“On Stolen Land: Primitive Accumulation and the Dispossession of Native Americans,” a talk at Socialism 2015 by Ragina Johnson.

“Cursed by Coal: Mining the Navajo Nation” (video) by VICE News |

Native Americans and Wage Labor: Ethnohistorical Perspectives, edited by Alice Littlefield and Martha C. Knack (University of Oklahoma Press, 1996).

The Work of Sovereignty: Tribal Labor Relations and Self-Determination at the Navajo Nation by David Kamper (School for Advanced Research Press, 2010).

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