Animal Colonialism

Illustrating Intersections between Animal Studies and Settler Colonial Studies through Diné Horsemanship


  • Kelsey John Author



The objective of this paper is to highlight the relationship between violence against nonhuman animals and Indigenous peoples and, conversely, to reframe the conversation about horses by positioning horses as teachers and knowers for decolonization. I highlight a theoretical and material tension I name: animal colonialism. Animal colonialism is one interlocking tension that centers the interconnected nature of nonhuman animals and humans. I position horses as “knowers,” and as an entry point to understand interconnected Diné ontologies and simultaneously to interrogate multiple binaries which disconnect and erase Indigenous lifeways. To illuminate the conversation on horses, I use a horse lens to reframe the current conversation about free roaming horses on Navajo Nation. Horses and horse relationality is a form of resistance to animal colonialism because it perpetuates a Diné epistemology of connection, resistance, and healing amidst the violence experienced through animal colonialism.


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Author Biography

  • Kelsey John

    Kelsey John (Diné) is a Ph.D. candidate in the department of Cultural Foundations of Education at Syracuse University and a National Academy of Education/Spencer Dissertation Fellow. She is Diné; her clans are tł ááshchi’i báshíshchíín and bit’ahnii dashinálí. Her research interests include: Indigenous feminism, Diné studies, settler colonial studies, Indigenous methodologies, and Tribal Colleges and Universities. She is committed to maintaining an active scholarly and service agenda through her volunteer work as a sexual assault advocate at Sexual Assault Services of North West New Mexico, Four Corners Equine Rescue, and her work as an adjunct faculty for the Diné Studies department at Navajo Technical University.




How to Cite

“Animal Colonialism: Illustrating Intersections Between Animal Studies and Settler Colonial Studies through Diné Horsemanship”. 2019. Humanimalia 10 (2): 42-68.