The definition of the term Indigeneity would seem at first glance to be straightforward, meaning “Indigenousness” or “state of being Indigenous.” The suffix -ity added to the noun Indigene forms an abstract noun that refers to a state or condition of being. In practice, however, the term is far more complex, as it begs the question of what it means to be “Indigenous” in the first place and in turn evokes difficult questions of authenticity and belonging, questions powerfully shaped by centuries of settler state dynamics of Native elimination. Due to its coconstitutive relationship with the settler state, “Indigeneity” is also intimately entangled with race, gender, land, and sovereignty in ways that are often ideologically obscured. Adding to the contentious nature of the term is that fact that what it describes troubles other popular and scholarly notions, such as the “postcolonial.” Further, while it is often used as such, “Indigeneity” is not precisely equivalent to “Indigenousness.” If it were, we would not have need of two terms. Rather, “Indigeneity” evokes a belonging in a larger, indeed global, collectivity of people who share in some form that state of being Indigenous as against the non-Indigenous. Let’s unpack this.

This essay may be found on page 125 of the printed volume.

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