State Expansion and Indigenous Response in the Arctic: A Globally Integrated Northern Borderland Emerges from the Historical Synthesis of Northern Frontier and Northern Homeland

  • Barry Scott ZellenEmail author


Since the state and its colonial proxies first encroached upon their homeland three centuries ago, natives of the North have continued to assert and defend their Aboriginal rights and cultural traditions and have sought to preserve as much of the autonomy of their independent polities now threatened by state expansion as they could. As natives learned more about the many systems and structures of governance that were exported from Eurasia, from the commercial trading posts and early global networks they were part of, to the representative constitutional democracies that took root in their homelands, they found many new ways to reassert and, increasingly, restore their autonomy—through innovative domestic diplomacy, protracted (sometimes multi-decade) negotiations, and various forms of political protest and engagement. The northern tranquility long observed to define the Arctic region as a whole, and which is particularly salient in the Western Arctic, owes much then to the domestic reconciliation of tribe and state that has taken place during this historic and exemplary northward state expansion.



The author would like to gratefully thank the Kone Foundation of Helsinki, Finland for generously funding my research on cross-border indigenous homelands and indigenous borderlands in 2016 and 2017, making research for this paper possible. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of the United States Coast Guard Academy, the United States Coast Guard, or any other branch or service of the United States Government.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Arctic Study and Policy (CASP), United States Coast Guard AcademyNew LondonUSA

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