Date of Thesis

Spring 2020


This thesis explores resource extraction on Navajo and Hopi lands from 1942 to the present. I argue that this is a history of settler colonialism, and in particular, that continual reinvestments in mining, as well as rationalizations and normalizations of its associated violence, are the work of the settler mindset. This mindset holds the nation innocent. It views capitalism and colonialism as inevitable, not the constructions of historical actors. In this sense, settlers frequently cast the dangers and violence of mining as isolated mistakes, detached from any broader patterns. My thesis also argues that many Navajo and Hopi activists, often led by young people, resisted mining and colonialism through a distinctly internationalist framework. Activists routinely connected their struggles to those against empire in other geographic regions throughout the world. This thesis evaluates both coal and uranium extraction as dual functions of intersecting historical processes. The machinations of uranium mining have been detailed in different ways by both Traci Brynne Voyles and Judy Pasternak. I enter the conversation by connecting uranium and coal, thus engaging in a more macro evaluation of mining. My argument about anticolonial activism is in conversation with Andrew Needham’s book, Power Lines: Phoenix and the Making of the Modern Southwest, and attempts to reframe and complicate prior assessments of Indigenous resistance. Needham argued that Navajos resisted mining in part through an ethos of Navajo nationalism. I argue that this nationalism existed as one part of the broader, global framework of international anticolonialism.


colonialism, mining, capitalism, Southwest, Navajo, Hopi

Access Type

Honors Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Degree Type

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

John Enyeart

Second Advisor

Paul Barba