Laurelyn Whitt & Alan W. Clarke, North American Genocides: Indigenous Nations, Settler Colonialism, and International Law (Cambridge Univ. Press 2019).
In the Introduction to An Indigenous People’s History of the United States, Dunbar-Ortiz quotes Willie Johns of the Brighton Seminole Reservation in Florida: “We are here to educate, not forgive. We are here to enlighten, not accuse.”  Laurelyn Whitt and Alan Clarke set out to educate and enlighten readers on the exterminatory efforts levied against Indigenous peoples in North America by settler-colonists by examining two cases that occurred on Indigenous lands in Canada and the United States: the Beothuk Nation on what is now Newfoundland and the Powhatan Tsenacommacah in the region known as the Virginia Colony. By applying the elements of genocide laid out in a conservative reading of the UN Genocide Convention to the historical evidence found in recorded accounts of what occurred between settler-colonists and Indigenous peoples, North American Genocides: Indigenous Nations, Settler Colonialism, and International Law demonstrates how a hypothetical prosecutor may secure a finding of genocide against specific colonial actors in the two cases.
Whitt and Clarke begin by summarizing the various grounds on which genocides of North American Indigenous populations have been denied or dismissed and dismantle arguments that what happened to Indigenous peoples at the hands of settler-colonists did not constitute genocide. In so doing, they clarify misconceptions about what is required to establish genocide under the Genocide Convention. For example, genocide does not require actual destruction of the group nor even a systemic or widespread attack on the group.  In Chapter 4, Whitt and Clarke explain in detail the elements of genocide and note that acts committed with the requisite intent (to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group) need not be homicidal – forced removal and transfer of children from the victim group may constitute genocide – nor is it necessary to establish an organized plan, policy or governmental sponsorship. Large numbers are not a requirement either. If the group is small, even a small number killed may constitute a substantial part of that group for purposes of establishing an intent to destroy a protected group.
After the authors give a “legal primer” on the Genocide Convention, they closely examine the cases of the Beothuk Nation and the Powhattan Tsenacommacah, focusing on specific actors and witness accounts of violence committed against Indigenous peoples, including statements and circumstantial evidence indicating genocidal intent. Through a methodical application of the Genocide Convention’s elements, the authors advance compelling legal arguments that what happened to the Beothuk and the Powhattan Tsenacommacah constituted genocide under the Convention. One notable actor is Nathaniel Bacon Jr., the so-called American patriot whose rebellion led the way to the American revolution. Bacon’s ruthless attack on the Occanneechee Nation provides the requisite actus reus of genocide, and his virulent anti-Indian rhetoric provides evidence of the requisite mens rea.
North American Genocides dispels any myth that settler-colonialism was a predominantly benign exercise with some unfortunate outcomes or that it was a discrete event that occurred in the distant past. Settler-colonists came to stay and their principle object was the land itself; as stated by the Select Committee formed by the British House of Commons to examine relations with Indigenous peoples, “the new occupants of America…regard the natives as an irreclaimable race…whom it was desirable ultimately to remove.” In other words, it was the objective of settler-colonists to eliminate Indigenous populations. The Select Committee noted that in the span of only 30-40 years, the settlers in the British colonies studied had reduced the population from 8,000-10,000 to about 200-300. Moreover, Whitt and Clarke point out that “settler colonization is a structure, not an event…it changes shape, endures policy realignments, and transformations of legal systems without relinquishing its hold on the land and on what remains of the land’s inhabitants…” As such, Indigenous peoples refuse to accept that we’re in a postcolonial society – settler colonialism is a structure that endures.
The final chapters of North American Genocides argue for a more expansive interpretation of the Genocide Convention that includes cultural destruction. That the Genocide Convention listed the forcible removal of children as an act of genocide indicates that the drafters intended to preserve cultural destruction as a form of genocide, when such destruction takes the form of forcible removal of children. This, the authors contend, is the correct interpretation of the Genocide Convention. However, the broader interpretation that the authors argue should be the law is that the intent to destroy a group culturally could be read more expansively to include other genocidal acts that constitute cultural destruction.
The authors note that “to develop an adequate approach to genocide prevention – we must first develop a comprehensive and detailed understanding of how genocide arises and unfolds in various contexts including settler-colonialism.” North American Genocides: Indigenous Nations, Settler Colonialism and International Law provides a robust legal examination of past genocides and illuminates the deficiencies in the Genocide Convention in describing (and thus potentially preventing) genocide. For anyone who is interested in Indigenous history, settler-colonialism, or genocide studies, this book is a valuable and insightful resource.
 Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Introduction to An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States 1 (Beacon Press 2014).
 Laurelyn Whitt & Alan W. Clarke, North American Genocides: Indigenous Nations, Settler Colonialism, and International Law 21 (Cambridge Univ. Press 2019).
 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide art. 2, Dec.9, 1948, 78 U.N.T.S. 277.
 Whitt & Clarke, supra at 74.
 Id. at 88.
 Id. at 80-81.
 Id. at 153-54.
 Id. at 45.
 Id. at 48.
 Id. at 51.
 Id. at 175.
 Id. at 175.
 Id. at 228.