Graduation Date

Summer 2020

Document Type



Master of Arts degree with a major in Social Science, Environment and Community

Committee Chair Name

Leena Dallasheh

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Nicholas Purdue

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Kerri Malloy

Third Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Subject Categories

Environment and Community


This thesis examines recent successful efforts by the Wiyot Tribe in Humboldt County, California to resist and reverse forms of settler-colonial oppression with tangible and unprecedented results. The original inhabitants of Humboldt Bay: the Wiyot, and their allies in the local community, have overcome settler socio-political resistance in three contentious, public disputes to preserve and restore tribal sovereignty over ancestral land and culture. While much has been written about the history of the United States as a settler-colonial project, more research is necessary to understand the processes of grassroots decolonization efforts to alter cultural landscapes. Using a combination of feminist and critical geographic theoretical methodologies, archival research, and qualitative interview methods, this thesis informs gaps in the academic discourse on decolonization, focusing on potential strategies that can be replicated elsewhere. The results of this research recognize a historical, legal, and moral justification for decolonization and an emphasis on reading cultural landscapes as an effective decolonization tool, seeking to analyze the Wiyot’s successes in ways that can illuminate tactical strengths and their potential use in future decolonization struggles.

Citation Style