Mapping Violence against Indigenous Women and Girls

Beyond Colonizing Data and Mapping Practices


  • Annita Hetoevehotohke'e Lucchesi University of Arizona



Indigenous, gender violence, data sovereignty, critical cartography


There is a critical lack of scholarship interrogating how ‘making sense’ of and mapping violence against Indigenous people itself has functioned to facilitate ongoing violence, through practices I call data terrorism. In this paper, I examine how initiatives aimed at collecting data on gender violence against Indigenous women and girls for the purposes of mapping are a product of a collision of colonial obsessions with Indigenous women’s bodies and cartography and data as tools of surveillance and domination. These colonial and heteropatriarchal data and mapping practices work to further entrench settler colonial power, terrorize Indigenous women, and create conditions that facilitate ongoing violence targeting Indigenous women. I argue that this approach to mapping data on violence against Indigenous women is fundamentally rooted in colonial understandings of maps as empirical truth-divining tools, rather than as subjective storytelling devices. Such mapping actively empowers settler colonial states to be the authority on Indigenous women’s bodies, rather than Indigenous women themselves. I close with reflections on how Indigenous sovereignty in data and cartography can enhance the sovereignty of Indigenous women and their nations, and empower Indigenous communities to design more effective data-driven solutions to address gender violence.


Asad, Talal. On Suicide Bombing. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007.

Brody, Hugh. Maps and Dreams: Indians and the British Columbia Frontier. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1981.

Brown, Danica Love. "Daughters of the Drum: Decolonizing Health and Wellness with Native American Women." AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples 12, no. 2 (2016): 109-23.

Bryan, Joe, and Denis Wood. Weaponizing Maps: Indigenous Peoples and Counterinsurgency in the Americas. New York: The Guilford Press, 2015.

Casolo, Jennifer. “Unthinkable Rebellion and the Praxis of the Possible: Ch'orti' Campesin@ Struggles in Guatemala's Eastern Highlands.” Dissertation; University of California, Berkeley, 2011.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Adverse health conditions and health risk behaviors associated with intimate partner violence --- United States, 2005.” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) 57(05) (2005): 113-117. Available from:

Clark, Natalie. "Shock and Awe: Trauma as the New Colonial Frontier." Humanities 5, no. 1 (2016): 14.

Deer, Sarah. "Relocation Revisited: Sex Trafficking of Native Women in the United States." William Mitchell Law Review 36, no. 2 (2010): 621.

Deer, Sarah. The Beginning and End of Rape: Confronting Sexual Violence in Native America. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015.

Downe, Pamela J. "Two Stories of Migrant Sex Work, Cross-Border Movement and Violence." Canadian Woman Studies 25, no. 1/2 (2006): 61.

Fitzgerald, Stephanie J. Native Women and Land: Narratives of Dispossession and Resurgence. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2015.

Hoover, Elizabeth. “Environmental Reproductive Justice: Intersections in an American Indian Community Impacted by Environmental Contamination.” Environmental Sociology 4, no. 1, (2018): 8-21.

Kermoal, Nathalie, and Isabel Altamirano-Jiménez. Living on the Land: Indigenous Women's Understanding of Place. Athabasca: Athabasca University Press, 2015.

Latonero, Mark, and Zachary Gold. “Data, Human Rights, and Human Security.” Data & Society (2015).

Lucchesi, Annita Hetoevehotohke’e. “-hóhta'hané: Mapping Genocide & Restorative Justice in Native America.” Master’s thesis; Washington State University, 2016.

Lucchesi, Annita Hetoevehotohke’e. "Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls: A Snapshot of Data from 71 Urban Cities in the United States." Urban Indian Health Institute, 2018.

Lucchesi, Annita Hetoevehotohke’e. “Mapping Geographies of Canadian Colonial Occupation: Pathway Analysis of Murdered Indigenous Women.” Gender, Place, and Culture 26, no. 6 (2019): 868-887.

Mamdani, Mahmood. Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War, and the Roots of Terror. Easton, PA: Harmony, 2005.

McCovey, Mavis. Medicine Trails: A Life in Many Worlds. Berkeley: Heyday Books, 2009.

O’Neil, Cathy. Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy. New York: Penguin House, 2016.

Perrelli, T. Statement of Associate Attorney General Perrelli before the Committee on Indian Affairs on Violence Against Native American Women [citing a National Institute of Justice-funded analysis of death certificates]. Washington, DC, July 14, 2011. Available from:

Schultz, Katie, Karina L. Walters, Ramona Beltran, Sandy Stroud, and Michelle Johnson-Jennings. ""I'm Stronger Than I Thought": Native Women Reconnecting to Body, Health, and Place." Health & Place 40 (2016): 21.

Seltzer, William, and Margo Anderson. “The Dark Side of Numbers: The Role of Population Data Systems in Human Rights Abuses.” Social Research 68, no. 2 (2001): 481-513.

Sovereign Bodies Institute and Brave Heart Society. “Zuya Winyan Wicayu’onihan: Honoring Warrior Women.” 2019.

Taggart, Marissa Jean. "#AmINext? A Discussion on the Sexual Violence and Trafficking of Aboriginal Women in Canada and the Link to Domestic Extractive Industries." ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2015.

Tjaden, P., & Thoennes, N. “Full report of the prevalence, incidence, and consequences of violence against women: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey [NCJ 183781].” Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice & the US Department of Health and Human Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2000. Available from

Támez, Margo. "Restoring Lipan Apache Women’s Laws, Lands, and Strength in El Calaboz Ranchería at the Texas‐Mexico Border." Signs 35, no. 3 (2010): 558-69.

US Government Accountability Office. US Department of Justice Declinations of Indian Country Criminal Matters [GAO‐11‐167R]. Washington, DC: US GAO, 2010. Available from:

US Government Accountability Office. Missing or Murdered Indigenous Women: New Efforts are Underway but Opportunities Exist to Improve the Federal Response [GAO-22-104045]. Washington, DC: US GAO, 2021. Available from:




How to Cite

Lucchesi, A. H. (2022). Mapping Violence against Indigenous Women and Girls: Beyond Colonizing Data and Mapping Practices. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 21(4), 389–398.



Special Issue - Doing Critical GIS