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Research and Films

My research focuses on environmental justice, settler colonialism, and collaborative film methodologies in the U.S. West.

Since 2018 I have worked with the Karuk Tribe's Department of Natural of Resources as an ethnographic researcher, media consultant, and filmmaker. I co-produced a series of short videos about northern California wildfire, the political-ecological impacts of climate change, and the benefits of Karuk cultural burning.

As wildfires throughout the U.S. west intensify, Indigenous fire practitioners fight for sovereignty and survivance while navigating between, on one side, a militarized firefighting apparatus premised on the settler state’s entitlement to environmental authority, and on the other side, a broad-based colonial impulse to appropriate and commodify Indigenous knowledge. Through participant observation, collaborative filmmaking, and interviews, my book-in-progress tracks how settler colonial relations of power and property can be reaffirmed or disrupted by the increasing frequency of environmental crises.

The working title of my book is: Into the Fire: Crisis, Colonialism, and the Resurgence of Indigenous Burning in Northern California

Like all researchers who work with Karuk communities, I have learned the Tribe’s “Practicing Píkyav” process. The policy documentation for “Practicing Píkyav” states that all projects should “support Karuk philosophies and practices of píkyav,” which “includes mitigating environmental and social damages that continue to have profound impacts on Karuk people, and Karuk Cultural Heritage, traditions, and Aboriginal Territory” (Karuk – UC Berkeley Collaborative 2014), and I work with a committee of local advisors. Píkyav—repairing the world—is a goal, method, and field of study in my work.

Published work:



Dominant causal explanations of the wildfire threat in California include anthropogenic climate change, fire suppression, industrial logging, and the expansion of residential settlements, which are all products of settler colonial property regimes and structures of resource extraction. Settler colonialism is grounded in Indigenous erasure and dispossession through militarism and incarceration, which are prominent tools in California's fire industrial complex. To challenge settler colonial frameworks within fire management, Indigenous peoples are organizing to expand Indigenous cultural controlled burning, fire stewardship, and sovereignty. These initiatives emphasize reciprocal human-fire relations and uphold Indigenous knowledge systems and livelihoods. Concurrently, Indigenous fire sovereignty is threatened by knowledge appropriation and superficial collaborations. In this article, we review contemporary research on Indigenous burning in order to highlight the strategies that Indigenous communities and scholars employ to subvert colonial power relations within wildfire management and actualize regenerative Indigenous futures.

Karuk Fire and Climate Justice

Karuk Fire and Climate Justice


Journal Article


Seraphin, B. (2023). Settler colonial counterinsurgency: Indigenous resistance and the more-than-state policing of #NoDAPL. Security Dialogue, 54(3), 272–289.

In 2016, the US-based private military contractor TigerSwan was denied a license to operate in North Dakota. Nonetheless, it coordinated a counterinsurgency (COIN) campaign employing war-on-terror tactics, brutalizing Indigenous and allied water protectors associated with the Indigenous-led movement to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline (#NoDAPL) on Standing Rock Lakota territory. This article takes COIN as an analytic to show that US settler colonialism is a multilateral, internally conflicted, and anxious mode of power. The settler state both depends upon and disavows anti-Indigenous and anti-Black violence enacted by rogue civilian individuals and organizations, a phenomenon here termed ‘more-than-state policing’. The repression of #NoDAPL was not solely a boomerang by-product of the global war on terror but rather exposes an established infrastructure of settler colonial COIN intrinsic to US normal politics, in which Indigenous resistance and sovereignty are constructed as metastasizing, viral threats to settler colonial legitimacy. As modern COIN warfare has evolved from four centuries of North American settler colonial invasion and governance, settler colonial studies are key to grasping 21st-century topics of war, imperialism, securitization, resource extraction, and climate justice.

Permanent link:


Karuk Fire and Climate Justice

Karuk Fire and Climate Justice



MA Thesis Research

From 2014-2017 I visited, traveled with, and interviewed nomadic non-Indigenous "rewilders" in Oregon and California, people living on "the Hoop," sometimes called wildtending.

Published work:

Spring 2020

This chapter centers on an inchoate nomadic movement bound by shared environmental practices, here called wildtending, and speculates about ways Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in the United States Northwest imagine an array of contradictory environmental futures. The chapter situates wildtenders’ ecocultural identity formation within the ongoing structural conditions of U.S. settler colonialism. I contend that such radical environmentalisms could more fully realize their liberatory potential by entering into relationships of direct accountability with contemporary Indigenous efforts toward land repatriation, resurgence, and self-determination. Drawing attention to diverse and sometimes competing visions for the movement’s possible trajectories, I make the theoretical argument that ecocultural identities emerge not only within networks of human and nonhuman relations, but moreover in the ways those relations are imagined into the future. I complicate some wildtenders’ settler futurities by centering scholarship on North American Indigenous resurgence, futurisms, and science fiction, as well as Black feminist Afro-futurism. I propose that such a focus combined with a conception of community organizing as a form of practical science fiction opens space for a hopeful orientation toward viable ecocultural futures, disrupting the predominantly apocalyptic tone of 21st century global warming discourse.

Published in the Routledge Handbook of Ecocultural Identity:

Drawing on a diverse range of contributors who utilise an array of multi-disciplinary lenses, this Handbook provides a much-needed reference on the many ways in which individual and collective ecocultural identities are being produced and performed on individual, local, and global scales. Each section includes authoritative grounded theoretical essays and an international range of case studies. Providing a transdisciplinary overview of this cutting-edge subject, this Handbook will be an essential resource for students and scholars of environmental communication, environmental sociology, human geography, and environmental studies more broadly.

Fall 2017

"Wildtending" is a grassroots movement of mostly white and non-Native nomadic "rewilders" in the northwest United States who appropriate Indigenous traditional ecological knowledge, gathering and replanting wild foods in a seasonal round. Evaluating wildtending's potentialities for settler-Indigenous solidarity, this article discusses the network's rhetorical shifts within the context of the 2016 armed occupation at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and the movement against the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock.

Note: The term “High Desert Wildtending Network” in this article is meant to pertain to the broader wildtending movement in general and neither specifically nor solely to the non-profit organization called "High Desert Wildtending Network."

Spring 2016

This paper presents an ethnographic account of the grassroots "wildtending" movement. Comprising mostly white and non-Native nomads who travel in the northwest United States’ Great Basin and Columbia Plateau regions and live mostly on National Forest land, this movement of “rewilders” appropriates local Indigenous peoples’ traditional ecological knowledge in efforts to gather and replant wild foods in a seasonal round that they refer to as the “Sacred Hoop.” I discuss the Wildtending (or "Hoop") community in order to explore the environmental ethics of a group that is at once strikingly unique and also an embodiment of the problems of settler colonialism within the broader environmentalist movement. I begin by introducing the group's ecologies and ethics, which emphasize human-nonhuman reciprocity and mutual care, and subsequently move into an examination of the multiple and sometimes-contradictory lines of apocalyptic narrative logic at work in Wildtending discourse. I propose that the "Hoopsters’" conflicting accounts of the Anthropocene, and the temporality of its disasters, are a manifestation of their ongoing work grappling with their own racial positionality. Despite the "Hoopsters’" uncompromising critiques of capitalism, and environmental exploitation, the network struggles to come to terms with its role in ongoing colonialism. In this way, Wildtending echoes the troubled narratives at work in broader North American environmental thought, which consistently reveres the idea of Indigenous cultures while struggling to enter into solidarity relationships with Indigenous communities and their efforts toward decolonization and resurgence.

Note: The terms in footnote #2 refer specifically to the names of Facebook groups, and do not necessarily represent the movement as a whole.

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