Homicide and Indigenous peoples in North America: A structural analysis

Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit

Law and Justice

Publication Date



Indigenous peoples in Canada and the United States experience high levels of homicide and violence. In fact, the Indigenous homicide rate is the highest of any racial and ethnic group in either country. Of particular concern, is the amount of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. While violence has been subject to vast research in Canada and the United States, most of the literature focuses upon the micro factors. These types of explanations however, largely fail to provide the historical and structural framework for understanding violence affecting Indigenous peoples. For instance, the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls must not be separated from the structural embeddedness of colonialism and the impacts of patriarchy. While the history of colonialism is usually evoked within the literature to provide context, this paper argues that colonialism is not only a contextual factor to situate individual violence, but rather that the embeddedness of colonialism within the political, economic, and social organization, or structure of society, leads to the continued precarity of Indigenous people to violence and victimization – particularly homicide.


This article was originally published in Aggression and Violent Behavior. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Aggression and Violent Behavior


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